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Vibration on turn after rear passenger accident

Our “brand new” 2010 outback (7K miles) was hit while parked on the street. Rear-ended on the passenger side, both rear tires and Left front tire were no longer vertical. The hit was also so hard that the front bumper had to be replaced from hitting the car in front of us.

Luckily there was no frame damage, only tires & drive train.

Almost $9,000 in repairs later, the car vibrates when turning at moderate or higher speeds (30mph or faster). The Vibration sounds like hitting the rumble strips on the edges of the highway and gets worse the tighter the turn or the faster the speed. When going straight, no noise or vibration.

Mechanic says its a bearing, but can’t tell which one because its not bad enough yet.

My uncle thinks it might be related to a mis-alignment in the drive train - possibly causing the rear axles and Differential? to be out of square with each other or how it is actually bolted to the frame.

We have put on about 600 miles with no change except a fear of doing more damage.

Are either of these on track? Or do I really need to bring it to a Subaru dealer/repair shop? (our local mechanic convinced us to let him do the work, and due to a variety of reasons we decided to go that route - hope it was the right one)

Is the mechanic who did the work a Subaru specialist?

Have someone follow you in another vehicle, and watch your tires as you make a turn at the speed that causes the vibration. If they can see the vibration, then you will know which wheel is having issues.


no - he has a local garage - repairs all makes. He serviced our 1997 Outback for 8 years without a problem.

Really? You’re kidding right? drive @ 30 MPH, make a turn long enough to have someone in another car SEE if a wheel is vibrating - Not one time, but 4 times… First, I would estimate that this is a damn near impossible task, and second I would hope so, its spinning around and absorbing all the bumps in the road. enough said… (I hope).

I believe you need a new shop. It need not be a dealer (most dealer work of this type is done by a local body shop not the dealer.

I would start by seeing what your local garage that did the work has to say about it.

I am hoping that I don’t need to change shops - this one is within walking distance (I am in Brooklyn NY)and the nearest dealer is an hour a way. The shop owner has assured me that he will solve the problem at his expense if he has to. I brought it there last night and basically said, it needs to be fixed. He has driven the car and knows what the problem is, just not what the cause is - and I was posting here to see what should be looked at. (I have faith that the shop does good work, but I fear that this is beyond their abilities to troubleshoot) - And he also mentioned that even if we bring it to a dealer, they would most likely sub the work out. Which I find odd - the dealership we bought it from has their “own” service department - wouldn’t they do the work - or be the best people to bring it to?

I followed a guy driving a 99 Nissan Altima just the other day, and watched his left rear tire wobble because its wheel bearing was shot. This was in normal driving traffic, about 30 mph.

I’ve watched people’s wheels oscillate like crazy with blown shocks all the time, at city street speeds to highway speeds.

So yes, it can be done, and doesn’t take that long.
I can’t understand why you don’t think its possible.


Having someone follow you and looking to see if any condition affecting handling or ride is visible is a perfectly valid diagnostic technique, and just may be the one that provides you with an answer.

I guess its that the vibration is not a wobble and its very brief in duration. I have a hard time thinking that you would be able to see this type of vibration. It is very fast. I would assume that it would be less than 1/2" of movement - which I would believe is hard to see. Again this only happens when turning, so it would be hard to maintain the condition long enough to actually see - never mind the fact that it would a three man operation, because how would the second driver be able to watch the my wheels close enough and turn his own car and be safe.
I can certainly see that the condition you are describing would be visible, but in this case, I don’t don’t think the vibration as the amplitude to be visible.

Next time your on the highway, stray to the side and hear/feel what the rumble strip at 65mph is like. Now imagine that it only happens for 3-5 seconds while turning - that’s what we’re trying to find.

I respectfully disagree for this case. I don’t think the vibration has the amplitude to be visible and I’m not sure how to see the front two wheels while following.
However, given votes for this technique I’ll mention it to my mechanic if he can’t get to the problem otherwise.

Think of the technique as cheap and simple. I am not suggesting that if the “follow me and look” technique does not show any fault that no fault exists. When you are faced with a difficult to diagnois condition be open to giving it a try.

Just so I can be sure on this:

You don’t want to try this very simple task, and you want to discredit the possibility of it being effective without ever actually trying it?

If yes, I won’t look at your thread again.


If I had the resources - two cars, three people & 3 hours - and if I could find a place to make it happen - I would consider it. But the only two lane road, with the right curves and speed is 30 minutes away and on a very busy highway - with no way easy way to turn around.
Never mind the fact that I don’t know anyone else with a car and that would be willing to help - it is New York after all most people don’t have or need cars.
(and the city speed limit is 30 - so I can’t really cause the problem locally)

So the short answer is, no I don’t see it being an easy logistical possibility to even consider trying. If I lived somewhere else and I could find a location to keep the wheel turned long enough for someone to look, while I told someone else on a phone that the vibration was happening “now” then I’d consider it.

I’m really not trying to be “that guy” on these forums. I recognize that given different circumstances your idea could have merit - however given my particular situation its not really an option at this time. But please feel free to ignore this tread from here on, unless you have another idea that we should consider.

I don’t think that the OP actually wants help here.
It’s also clear that they don’t realize that a small vibration inside the car can be from a visible (and larger) tire movement.

Thank you for your comments. It appears that other than watching the tires, there have been no other ideas to examine - and as I stated above, given the circumstances, I would find it difficult to implement. I will be sure to mention it to the mechanic. If he is unable to diagnose the problem, then perhaps he will follow me and try to see the problem from his car.
Short of that it seems that I’ll have to find a Subaru specialist.

Chances are its a wheel bearing, and by the sounds of it, you had 3 damaged wheels.
You can either just replace all three wheel bearings, and hope it wasn’t the one from the undamaged wheel, or you can have your mechanic check those three wheel bearings by hand and change the ones that he feels might be the culprits.

Finances shouldn’t be an issue, since the other party’s insurance is on the hook for all the repairs.

Was the car parked next to a curb on the left side of the street, which is how the left front tire was damaged with a hit to the right rear of the car?

I know that the front wheel bearings of the newer outbacks are weak.
My friend owns an '06, and his wife owns an '07, and they have replaced 5 wheel bearings between their two cars so far. Around 50k miles on both cars, at this point in time, I believe.

I grew up in Queens, across the Cross Island Parkway from Belmont Racetrack, so I can understand the road issue you are facing, but it should still be very possible to check. Not sure where you are in NY, so I can’t really offer ideas for good roads to try.


After a MASSIVE hit like that sooo many things can go wrong…just like this. Im sure you know who did the repairs to the vehicle after the hit…take it to them and ask if they had to put the car on “The Rack” to repair the damage. Tell them what you are hearing and feeling… If they cant sort it out it might be possible that they should NOT have repaired the vehicle and should have had it totalled…in fact with a bill that large I bet it was damn close to being totalled.

Ask the shop for a full list of items repaired or replaced and let us know what they were so we can know how in depth this accident was. This may be an item for the insurance company because they prob should have totalled the vehicle and gotten you into a new Subie-roo… Let us know what they repaired and if the car went on the dreaded “RACK”

Some good information there - my sister owns an '06 outback.
Yes the car was parked on the left side.
I just re-read the repair estimate from our Insurance and it did not include any bearings.
So it could be anyone of the 4. I thought that maybe due to the damage that the three bearings would have been replaced.
I have notified insurance that there is still an issue, but I am concerned that they will not cover it. The accident was on November 24th. They didn’t want to pay for the additional rental car days even though the shop couldn’t get parts - and they even confirmed it.
We finally got them to. We got the car back in January. Having a two-wheel drive rental during the storm really SUCKED!

In Brooklyn Near the Museum - nearest two lane road I can tell it is happening is the Jackie Robinson.


I thought it should have been totaled, but the agent wouldn’t hear of it. And our mechanic said it wasn’t as bad as it looked. That there was no frame damage - and he did show me the body when it was up on the lift, and to my un-trained eye the frame looked fine. With the wheels taking most of the force. But regardless, it needs to be fixed.
I just looked over the insurance estimate repair parts list, its over a full page, but these are the parts that I think are non-cosmetic:
Front Bumper
Radiator Support
Lower Tie Bar (Front left)
(3) Alloy wheel "resurface"
RT Lateral arm
RT Upper cntrl arm
RT trailing arm
RT ABS sensor
RT Axle Assembly
Susp crossmemeber
RT Lower Control arm
LT Lower Control arm
RT Strut

Looks like no bearings were replaced. Not that I know cars, but it seems that if the wheels aren’t vertical, that they should have been replaced?