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Old 10-08-2001, 12:01 AM   #1
AZScoobie
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Default WRX odd steering problem. (Need help)

A few weeks back I posted about a very odd steering problem on my WRX. I canít find the post so here is a fast run down on what is going on:

Since day one my steering wheel was off center to the left just a tad. The car drove straight so I figured I would live with it and get an alignment someday. Then one day I noticed that the wheel was off to the right. At first I thought it was the crown of the road or tire pressure. I checked the tires and drove on various roads. Still to the right. Then it was back to the left. While going to work one morning I sailed through an on ramp at speed. When I came out of the corner and entered the straight highway I noticed the wheel was off to the left side... I then yanked the wheel hard to the left and the wheel straightened out. I can change the position of the steering wheel buy steering abruptly. Yank to the right and the wheel sits to the left... Yank to the left and the wheel sits to the right. This takes a hard Yank on the wheel to get the wheel to (slip) move like this. If driving normal this does not happen unless you take a swift corner.

I took the car in to the dealer. You guessed it "found nothing wrong". I showed them on a test drive and his response was, "thatís odd, I have never seen a car do that before". Ok, If its odd please fix it. "Cant, nothing is wrong, this must be normal". Several people on this board emailed me and stated that there car does the same thing. I thought it was the bushings in the suspension moving and past this off as my answer.

The car is now doing this on almost every turn. I am now to the point of being scared to drive the car and I prefer others to not ride with me. If this is a normal trait of this car then fine. I will simply sell it or trade it off on something else. No biggie. I own it outright. If this is not normal then I want it fixed. I would NEVER be able to sell the car if this is not normal as I would not be able to sleep at night for fear of having someone be hurt in the car.

I have a feeling that there is a defect in the steering. I have an opinion on what the problem is. I have taken the car to two alignment shops for opinions and have checked every bolt my self.

I need your help. I have a feeling that many of you have this problem and have not noticed, or you may think this is normal. I am asking you to test your car to see if you have a problem. Please contact me through email or through a reply to this post. If nobody posts or contacts I will assume that you do not have this problem and I will not post about it again and I will not waste any more of your time. If you do have this problem we could work together to resolve the issue. My dealer refuses to do something about it. The next step for me is to contact SOA and lodge a complaint. I am about to stop driving the car for safety reasons.

Again, in the beginning you would need a hard almost loosing traction corner to make this happen. As miles went on itís getting easier to produce. Here is what I would like for you to do:

In a SAFE area with no traffic! Go to a business park or other area with no traffic. Be safe and do not speed!

1. Drive straight on several roads and note the position of the steering wheel as you let your hands off. I say several roads as the crown of the road may cause the wheel to be off a small amount.

2. Grab the wheel with both hands and Jerk the wheel to the right. When I say jerk I mean it. Pretend you are performing an evasive maneuver.

3. Note the position of the wheel going straight with your hands off the wheel for a moment. Did it change?

4. Try step two again but to the left.

5. Did the wheel stay the same as before or did the wheel sit off to either side???

6. Drive the car the rest of the week as normal but this time note the position of the wheel from time to time. Does your wheel ever change from left to right?

Again, if I jerk the wheel to the right my wheel is pointing to the LEFT. If I turn left hard, my wheel points to the RIGHT. Its backwards of what you might think.

Hard a swift corners will cause the wheel to change is straight position. I have noticed that a hard jerk will do the same and can be easier and safer to perform.

I thank you all for your time reading this and I thank you for all your help! I hope to discover the problem. This may be my car only or it may be 5,10, or even hundreds of cars that have this problem. This may not be a safe situation.

Thank you

CT
C_Turner@ix.netcom.com
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Old 10-08-2001, 08:26 AM   #2
seanmmcc
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yep same thing here ive noticed this ever since ive had it 10k.

Sean
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Old 10-08-2001, 09:55 AM   #3
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Interesting. I've had my car aligned twice. Both times the wheel was straight for a while, and then went back to being off center. I think I'll try your test. I will report later.
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Old 10-08-2001, 10:10 AM   #4
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This problem is due to the ECU NOT the steering wheel it self. If your steering wheel is off center to the right all you have to do is to turn your steering wheel all the way to the left lock position and the problem will go away and vise-versa if the steering wheel is off center to the left. Doesn't matter how many times you re-align your steering wheel mechanically it will always mess up after you turn it from clock to clock position. It is just an ECU defect.
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Old 10-08-2001, 10:25 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Hanzo
This problem is due to the ECU NOT the steering wheel it self. If your steering wheel is off center to the right all you have to do is to turn your steering wheel all the way to the left lock position and the problem will go away and vise-versa if the steering wheel is off center to the left. Doesn't matter how many times you re-align your steering wheel mechanically it will always mess up after you turn it from clock to clock position. It is just an ECU defect.
How in the world can the ECU effect the position of the steering wheel. This is not Steer by wire.

Funny.

CT.
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Old 10-08-2001, 10:29 AM   #6
Kaiser
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Quote:
Originally posted by Hanzo
It is just an ECU defect.
Can you explain that further? I don't understand how an electronic device could affect a purely mechanical one.

thanks,
Kai
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Old 10-08-2001, 10:39 AM   #7
Hanzo
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The dealer that tried to correct the problem said they are going to contact Subaru of America to see if there is a way to fix it. The alignment mechanic told me that.
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Old 10-08-2001, 10:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Hanzo
The dealer that tried to correct the problem said they are going to contact Subaru of America to see if there is a way to fix it. The alignment mechanic told me that.
I cant see how the ECU could effect the steering. I have checked every bolt myself and can't see where the steering shaft even hits a sensor let alone a motor. If you find out ANY more information PLEASE contact me.

Its good and bad to know that its not just my car. On one side more people mean a faster fix and safer cars. On the bad side I worry that someone will get hurt.

CT
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Old 10-08-2001, 11:16 AM   #9
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I've also had problems with my alignment. When I got the car, it was out, so I took it to Subaru Springfield (VA) and they did an alignment under warranty. It was fine for a while, but went out very quickly, say 500 miles. Now I notice that somtimes the car tends to pull left, but sometimes, it has no pull at all. When i get my car off of blocks (getting wheels powdercoated) I will perform your test.
As far as the ECU messing up alignment, that kind of has me stumped as well. The only thing I could possibly think of would be if the car had an active torque distribution system. The only distribution system these cars have is an limited slip rear diff, all mechanical/hydraulic.
Be sure to let me know how this one turns out with SOA.
Loren
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Old 10-08-2001, 11:25 AM   #10
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funny you should write this. I've had two WRX's (a loaner for a week and the one I bought) and BOTH had the steering wheel off center and to the left slightly. The cars drive straight, but the wheel is a little off. I haven't noticed it changing, but will keep and eye out. My car was like that when I first got it (never driven by any other customer).

-C
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Old 10-08-2001, 12:24 PM   #11
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ECU?? I'm scratching my head.
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Old 10-08-2001, 01:55 PM   #12
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ECU Causing this? There used to be a BS meter around here. Anyone see it? There might be something loose that is causing the wheel to slip. In this case, I would get that thing back to the dealer ASAP. If you can make it to Camelback Subaru without to many hassles, I would try them over Pitre any day. I dealt with Pitre when I lived in Gilbert, and they are worse than morons. I haven't seen an issue like this on either one of my cars. Just had the wagon aligned (Max neg camber for track), and the wheel is as straight as can be. This is a HUGE safety concern, and NO car should do this for any reason. Contact SOA immediately. Get them involved so that they can get a tech that knows something out here to look at it. Good luck.

Curt

Last edited by Turbo4me; 10-08-2001 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 10-08-2001, 02:41 PM   #13
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*adds to the checklist of things that are making me paranoid about getting a WRX*
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Old 10-08-2001, 02:53 PM   #14
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My steering has always seemed true and dead on (2200 miles). I will definitely check it now...
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Old 10-08-2001, 03:02 PM   #15
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First off, it has nothing to do with the ECU, thats drunk talk.

I can't say I know what is is for sure, but here are a few things you might want to get a dealer to inspect.

-Thrust Bushings at the top of the strut tower. Sometimes, if they become sticky or jam, they can wind the spring creating 'memory steer'. Although it usually causes the steering to stick to the direction you just turned. <New Struts>

-Power steering spool valves. If it should happen that they are somehow out of spec or slipping, the power steering could be thinking you're turning and giving you a hand when you don't need it. <New Rack>

Thats all that comes to mind right now, if I think of something else, I'll post it. I'm going to check my car now.

-Pete
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Old 10-08-2001, 04:11 PM   #16
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My WRX (Wagon) seems to have the same problem.

For the last couple of thousand miles, the steering wheel has been mis-aligned slightly clockwise. Prior to that it was slightly counter-clockwise.

It also pulls slightly to the right.

I'm going to take it into the Dealer this week and have it looked at.
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Old 10-08-2001, 06:03 PM   #17
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Yea i though I was alone I had my car for about 500 miles now and its starting to drift to the right when I let go fo the steering wheel. I didnt notice this till my friend drove the car and said that its not aligned. So i guess people are having the same problems as me. Well I'm taking it in tomorrow to get it realigned and I'll report back if they do find out its out of alignment.
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Old 10-08-2001, 06:14 PM   #18
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Default crowned roads

Is everybody sure it's not the crown of the roads? I've noticed my car doing that too, but it's always to the side the road seems to be crowned to. On roads that look perfectly flat and straight the wheel is dead on straight. Even after autocrossing I didn't feel any change in the steering. I will definitely keep an eye on it though. 9k in a little under 3 months.
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Old 10-08-2001, 07:07 PM   #19
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AZScoobie,

Just curious, have you changed the tires? If you have, your new tires might have less aligning torque to help them return to center.

What is your caster? Caster helps the steering return to center also.

The comment about the top mount friction is a good one. If the problem is not due to something that has come loose then it must be due to friction. If the simple fixes fail, I'd suggest trying top mounts or a new steering gear.

BTW, my car exhibits none of these symptoms.

Although I don't work on Subarus, I am a Suspension Engineer and if you PM me, I can assist you with any more general suspension/steering related technical questions you may have. I also might be helpful to you when you get an explanation from Subaru to determine if it is valid.
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Old 10-08-2001, 09:16 PM   #20
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My WRX pulled to the right from the day I picked it up. The car was inspected by the dealer and was reported to be without defects and in proper alignment. Eventually, under my persistence, the car was aligned with no improvement. The right wheel follows all of the imperfections in the road, suffers from bump steer and can be felt moving from left to right independently of the left wheel when cornering. It also pulls under hard acceleration and during braking. Certain bumps seem to shake the whole front end as well.
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Old 10-08-2001, 10:03 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by HydeX
Yea i though I was alone I had my car for about 500 miles now and its starting to drift to the right when I let go fo the steering wheel.
isn't this a safety feature of all cars so that you go OFF the road if you lose the ability to control your vehicle (aka pass out, etc.)
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Old 10-08-2001, 10:37 PM   #22
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I saw a similar problem when I got my car aligned by a custom alignment shop.

They claimed that the steering wheel drifting was caused by the steering rack flexing in it's rubber mounts. I have had the dealer (a very reputable dealer) look at the car, they found no evidence that the rack was moving in the bushings. I was a bit skeptical, but since I have not been particularly bothered by it.

It's really hard to tell the difference between this potential problem, and curvature of the road for instance...

If it becomes a "real" problem (I use the term loosely) then I will upgrade to the STI steering rack bushings.
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Old 10-08-2001, 10:42 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by blue5spdwrxwagon
AZScoobie,

Just curious, have you changed the tires? If you have, your new tires might have less aligning torque to help them return to center.

What is your caster? Caster helps the steering return to center also.

The comment about the top mount friction is a good one. If the problem is not due to something that has come loose then it must be due to friction. If the simple fixes fail, I'd suggest trying top mounts or a new steering gear.

BTW, my car exhibits none of these symptoms.

Although I don't work on Subarus, I am a Suspension Engineer and if you PM me, I can assist you with any more general suspension/steering related technical questions you may have. I also might be helpful to you when you get an explanation from Subaru to determine if it is valid.
Thanks for the information. I will be in touch at some point. I want to get this fixed one way or another.

I do not have the stock tires on the car and that is a VERY good point. I will switch the rims tonight to stock and retest.

I have a feeling the problem is in the lower A arm bushings. The main ones to the rear of the arm. I jacked the car up again and had a close look at them. The left bushing is sitting out of the cup about /14 inch. I can see from the dust that there has been some movement. This could be my problem. Remember.. If I turn to the right the wheel sits to the left and vise versa. That is the odd part about this. I even started to Think it was the rear.... I just cant seem to comprehend the fact that its oposite of what you would think... Turn left and the wheel is to the right...

Thanks guys...

CT
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Old 10-08-2001, 11:17 PM   #24
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The steering wheel on my WRX Wagon was just a tad off to the right from day one. But I really didn't pay attention to it since the car still seems to be driving straight.

But it's now off to the left (just a tad also) after I came back from a two days DE weekend couple weeks ago. But oddly.... the car still seems to be going straight.

I thought it was just my alignment was out of specs but now I'm getting worry....
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Old 10-09-2001, 12:30 AM   #25
AZScoobie
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Quote:
Originally posted by SilverAP1
The steering wheel on my WRX Wagon was just a tad off to the right from day one. But I really didn't pay attention to it since the car still seems to be driving straight.

But it's now off to the left (just a tad also) after I came back from a two days DE weekend couple weeks ago. But oddly.... the car still seems to be going straight.

I thought it was just my alignment was out of specs but now I'm getting worry....
After at least 15 emails of confirmed cars that have the same problem as mine I know there is an issue. This may be normal and it may be safe. I am working like mad to find out what is going on. I am going to research the steering box slipage idea very soon. I have ordered STI bushings already and I will install them. If I have to pull the entire front of the car apart and mark each joint I will. At this point I am almost positive that the Rubber bushings are slipping cause the off alignment. I will prove this on Saturday at the alignment shop.

Subaru has not offered any help and has told me that this is normal. I do not feel 100% just yet... When I do figure it out, and I will, I will offer my finding to the people on this forum. Stay tuned...

CT
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