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Vibrating Steering Wheel on 2000 Subaru Forester

Hi everyone,

I have a 2000 Subaru Forester that my wife and i recently bought used.

The previous owner was the original purchaser, and waxed, changed the belts, changed the oil, and changed the tires just because the owners manual told him to.

So needless to say, the car was in great shape.

We had some pretty bad storms here in Maryland last week, and on my way home from work, I saw a guy in a big GMC pickup truck wedged in a ditch against the guardrail of the median. I pulled over, and agreed to help him push it out.

I got behind him, and gently pushed against his rear bumper.

My all-wheel-drive Subaru pushed him out very easily, though he was pretty stuck in the wet grass.

Last weekend, we drove up to Philadelphia to visit her parents, and I noticed a faint HUMMM underneath my feet.

By the time we returned 2 days later, the HUMMM had turned into our steering wheel rocking back and forth (about an inch), when we go 60-65 mph. Under 60 mph, the vibration is still detectable, but if you put your hand on it, it doesn’t rock.

At 40 mph, you can’t tell at all.

So, I have three questions:

1. Is my wife correct in that I hurt the car with my good Samaritan efforts?

2. Is this going to be pricey or cheap to fix (the economy is bad, please say it’s cheap)

3. Can I order parts online or from a junkyard to save money?

Thanks a bunch!

How many miles are on the car?

There’s no way to tell what the story is without actually being able to inspect things. So there is no way to answer # 1 or 2. On #1 though, if it was “very easily” done, whatever happened was likely about to happen anyway. On #3, the answer is - very unlikely. The typical kinds of things that cause stuff like that are basic maintenance and wear & tear items - not generally good candidates for salvage yard purchase.

I would simply take it to a good front end shop, ask them test drive, check the tire balance and inspect the front end. If what you hear scares you or sounds implausible or unreasonable, post (with as much detail as possible) what they tell you about the problem and how to fix it.

If your steering wheel is bouncing back and forth an inch…you’ve got a major issue somwhere in your steering/suspension/tires. It could be somthing as simple as having lost a wheel weight but have it looked at asap.

Being a good Samaritan didn’t tear up the front valance (bumper) on the car?

It’s difficult to determine what the problem is based on limited info and no car in hand, but have you checked the tire pressure?
A low tire can cause all of those symptoms.
If a tire has developed odd treadwear patterns due to underinflation then it may be impossible to get rid of the noise without a tire(s) replacement.

(I don’t know that pushing the other vehicle contributed to any problems but you should reconsider doing this in the future. A local guy here owned a Subaru and worked in the oil field. After the engine blew up his wife said that he was using that Subaru out in the oil patch in an attempt to pull 2 ton trucks through 2 feet of mud. I rebuilt the engine, his wife made him listen to my cautioning about never doing this again, and within 2 months he blew it up again doing the same thing.)

A likely, easy and cheap fix is getting your wheel balance checked. While there they can verify the rest of suspension components if qualified.

The likely case is a wheel weight is missing.

Your Subaru bumper is not designed to push other vehicles.