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"Ghost Walking"


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29 replies to this topic

#1 ShawnW

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 02:36 AM

Thanks to the internet, we have a bit of a mess in the Subaru world. I would like to give my take on it.

Im pretty open minded but when someone comes to me and says that their Subaru steps out, or "ghost walks" I have ask about 10 minutes worth of questions before I am even willing to road test the car with them.

The true symptom is, the car, on ice or gravel surfaces, will step out from the rear and try to fishtail. It only seems to happen on 2005-2008 model Subaru Outbacks and the ones I have seen in my shop are mostly the earlier of that being 2005-2006.

It needs to be said that the suspension and steering on these cars is unlike many previous models. Its sensitive, its drive by wire, its ABS is really sensitive, and the weight on the rear wheels is not being supported by long struts like previous models. These cars handle much differently than the older generation Outbacks. They are quieter, smoother, and more Buick like than previous models.

But the fact is, the 4EAT transmission is usually a factor. And this one has a slightly different situation in the rear when it comes to Duty Solenoid C and such. Its not in the tailhousing like the old ones.

The ones I see that exhibit the problem usually have a thin gearstack measurement in the tailhousing. When I get a moment I will have to pull up the spec on it but its usually about 1/2 a clutch off! Thats a great deal.

The 3 that I have fixed that actually had the ghostwalking and weren't just old, typical AWD system no no's like mismatched or worn out tires, blown rear right strut and brand new left, or previous known driving of thousands of miles with the spare tire on it.

Im really tired of seeing people just go on and on about how Subaru should fix this. Give it up. Its not going to happen. Most of these are way out of powertrain warranty, but more than that, good luck proving that you or a previous owner didn't cause the problem or that some normal wear and tear item isn't the problem.

Instead, put the FWD fuse in like the good old days and see if the problem is made worse. See if you can drive on ICE like any normal FWD car can. If you can, move on to fixing the rear. If you can't-it could be the driver! :horse:
Like I said, these cars are more sensitive. Trying to run cheap tires on this car is a disaster. Its not a crime to run snow tires on this car in the winter. Trying to be macho and say you are gods gift to driving and that you don't need them is ridiculous.
I fixed one of these cars on a bet and the customer bought me new tires for my car after I put clutch packs in hers. She said she could drive on bald tires on Ice because it was a Subaru. Maybe an old one. The clutch packs were bad, but putting the tires from my wifes 06 on it truly solved the majority of the problems.

Its an improvement. It really is. Its not that the cars have gotten worse. They have improved but to get the full potential of the car you have to invest a little in it. When you do, it pays off.

If yours does have "IT" I recommend:

Make sure you aren't expecting too much of the car first. Thinking you can drive 60 on black ice isn't an expectation.

Anyway,
First try the clutch packs. Diagnose with the fuse a little. Go from there to repair. Its a few hours and the trans doesn't have to come out. Remove the driveshaft, remove the tailhousing, and measure the combination of the clutches and steels while in the housing. Compare to spec for that year. Order a gasket, clutches, and re install.
Second, consider the tires. Are they all season? Were they less than 70 bucks each?!? Try quality.
Third, check the rear struts. If they have 100K or more on them, they are suspect. KYB Excel are almost identical in every way to the factory ones. No alignment necessary. Ride quality will really improve and if it doesn't solve the problem at least you got your ride back to being responsive.
Anything beyond this, it could be the driver. Try having someone else drive it and see if the "problem" is still there. :)

#2 CNY_Dave

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 08:06 AM

Make sure you add this to the end of the lengthy ghostwalking thread over on the other really really good subaru forum, subaruoutback . org



Dave

#3 The Dude Abides

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 08:42 AM

How serious of a problem is this, theres a difference between just letting the back end get away from you and having the rearend lock up and toss you around.

#4 Mike104

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 08:50 AM

Shawn,

Thanks for posting this it is a real good explanation of how to fix the issue (assuming its not the driver) and is important to know. I had dismissed purchasing a 2005-2008 Subaru based on the reported "ghost walking" issue. Now that a solution that can be used is know, may add a few other cars to my replace list when the time comes to replace my '99.

#5 gregB

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 09:00 AM

Shawn,

I read your post with great interest. Last fall we bought the wife a 2008 Outback LTD, with the dynamic control system. There does not appear to be a FWD fuse in it , at least that I can find. This winter was so mild we did not have any conditions to test it out, really. Would the VDC system affect or minimize the "condition"? Save for waiting for ice is there anyway of checking the car out?

#6 TheLoyale

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 11:18 PM

Pretty long post, but was a good read. I've actually never heard of this issue until seeing the thread and wondering what you were talking about.

I have never driven a Subaru newer then a '01 3.0 Outback Wagon (Which rides like a Cadillac) I can not imagine how the new ones are, they are a totally different breed that is for sure. But I guess having an Automatic which actually gets out of its own way is nice ;)

#7 ShawnW

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 11:56 PM

Shawn,

I read your post with great interest. Last fall we bought the wife a 2008 Outback LTD, with the dynamic control system. There does not appear to be a FWD fuse in it , at least that I can find. This winter was so mild we did not have any conditions to test it out, really. Would the VDC system affect or minimize the "condition"? Save for waiting for ice is there anyway of checking the car out?


If the car has a FWD fuse its in the under hood fuse box and is very small.
The VDC/Traction control can typically be switched off with the button on the left side of the dash under the instrument cluster and to the left of the steering column.

#8 ShawnW

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 11:59 PM

Shawn,

Thanks for posting this it is a real good explanation of how to fix the issue (assuming its not the driver) and is important to know. I had dismissed purchasing a 2005-2008 Subaru based on the reported "ghost walking" issue. Now that a solution that can be used is know, may add a few other cars to my replace list when the time comes to replace my '99.


I think I would still leave this range of cars off the watch list. They are wonderful but I really think, bang for the buck the 2000-04 or the newest generations are better. Less quality issues with dash rattles, wheel bearings, etc. Still great cars. But for 5000 you can buy a really really nice 2003 or so car, and that would buy the worst 05-06 on the market-if one that cheap is around.

#9 ShawnW

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 12:02 AM

How serious of a problem is this, theres a difference between just letting the back end get away from you and having the rearend lock up and toss you around.


When it does it, you have to let off the gas completely and let the tires try to grab. It feels like its going to put the car into oncoming traffic. Most drivers that experience it and aren't at fault in the situation want to take the car and push it off a cliff. Its bad. But its usually quite fixable with proper diagnosis.
In my opinion, a dealer is not as likely to fix it as an independent. A dealer is going to try to say its the nature of the car, that they all do that, etc. An independent isn't going to have a worry or look over their shoulder mentality of lemon law worry.

They can fix it and not worry about the customer wanting them to call Subaru and say they have a safety bulletin/concern to file.

#10 WoodsWagon

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 12:29 AM

I think there were updated rear suspension alignment specs too, so that was subaru's "fix" for the issue.

#11 987687

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 07:48 AM

So this only effects the autos? Or is it a suspension thing as well?

My mom has an 08 5speed. It drives pretty well, even in snow. Just don't want to have this happening. I broken rear end stuff on an old legacy that made the rear want to lead the car in snow, it was scary!!

#12 CNY_Dave

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 12:41 PM

How serious of a problem is this, theres a difference between just letting the back end get away from you and having the rearend lock up and toss you around.


This phenomenon has been studied and duplicated, it doesn't affect all of that year it seems.

The rear end steps out without warning, with people having to crawl along on a slippery straight road getting passed by virtually every other type of vehicle.

There is definitely an alignment component to it, a power transfer component would explain some aspects of the problem nicely.

Dave

#13 docommenter

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 04:28 PM

My wife and I used to love this car but......While driving my relatively new 2013 CrossTrek 11,000 miles from Wisconsin to Detroit to attend the Winter Hockey Classic had repeated problems with ghostwalking. (This is my 4th Subaru and my 36th winter driving season so not an inexperience problem.) It was snowing but the roads were clear of thick snow but had a thin greasy sheen. It was difficult to keep a straight line and the rear end felt like it wanted to spin out (the old rear wheel drive feel) especially if the wind blew. Most cars were passing me old new big small. As a Subaru driver I am used to passing others on winter roads and did not like feeling like the little old man everyone was steerign around. Thinking the problem was the factory installed tires, we bought new snow tires for $925 at Belle Tire the morning of the return home. Similar weather (snowy blowing greasy roads). The car handled slightly better. But each time we got up to speeds over 40 mph the car would try to turn abruptly whenever we went under or over an overpass on a straightaway....Very nerve racking. Ended up bailing out in a hotel in Toledo until the next morning when the roads were mostly bare and dry. I am very familiar and like the feeling of the AWD kicking in to enhance the traction and control of the car. In this situation it feels like the AWD is kicking in and trying to turn the car anytime there is a slight slick spot. Did check to see if the car would try to drift left or right on a dry flat straightaway (goes straight). I am hoping the problem is related to a rear end alignment issue but disconcerted by my car which feels dangerous when I most need it to be reliable. Will trade it in and look to a non Subaru AWD if the dealer can't fix it.

#14 efseiler

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 08:15 PM

Your car wants to be a proper lady...so let her grow nails and get studded snow tires.  (manicure is optional)  :-D

 

 

Put horseshoes on the dang thing fer chrissakes!

 

 

Cheers!



#15 heartless

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 11:06 PM

Your car wants to be a proper lady...so let her grow nails and get studded snow tires.  (manicure is optional)  :-D

 

 

Put horseshoes on the dang thing fer chrissakes!

 

 

Cheers!

 

Sorry efseiler, but tire studs are not allowed in many states - Wisconsin included & we have some nasty winter weather - so they are not an option for a lot of folks...



#16 efseiler

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 09:46 AM

Sorry efseiler, but tire studs are not allowed in many states - Wisconsin included & we have some nasty winter weather - so they are not an option for a lot of folks...

 

Really?  Who cares about some lousy law...grow up, graduate from Kindergarten and get a waiver.

 

Sorry you people have to live under such a tyranny...but I guess there's a reason for everything.

 

 

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#17 afterbang

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 10:52 PM

I completely forgot about this problem existing, as it's been at least a couple years since I've seen any posting on the topic. Being in the market to buy a new-to-me Subaru, do you know if this problem as been exhibited on any 05-07 Legacy wagons? I live in the Cascade foothills and I often drive in the snow with my 2 and 4-year-old daughters. Freezing fog and black ice is also a big problem too. It scares me just reading about this phenomena and I wouldn't even risk buying one of the last of the Legacy wagons if there is even a remote possibility of this being a problem.

Even if it can be remedied, I am not buying a new car so I can jump right into wrenching on it. I only ever have time to work on other people's cars and this is one of the reasons why I'm looking for something newer.

#18 grossgary

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 11:24 AM

Ido you know if this problem as been exhibited on any 05-07 Legacy wagons?

he said it has and those can generally fall in the range of possibility.  2005-2008 is what he listed.  subaruoutback.org has lots of threads/discussion about it.


Edited by grossgary, 06 January 2014 - 11:25 AM.


#19 ivans imports

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 11:31 AM

I see the front trailing arm bushing blown witch allows the rear wheels to move slightly forward or back causing the rear wheel to turn in or out slightly making the rear of car lean or sway bad on rear. A 1/4 inch of slop makes a big difference in cars handling have had 6 or more like this now add a bad strut or wheel bearing and they get realy scary



#20 ivans imports

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 11:40 AM

one more thing The tire pressures directly affect cars handling And winter control is very overlooked but extremely important a tire with less air will work better in ice and snow. And in Canada STUDS STUDS STUDS  lots and sharp ones.  



#21 grossgary

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 12:02 PM

thanks for info Shawn.

 

The ones I see that exhibit the problem usually have a thin gearstack measurement in the tailhousing. When I get a moment I will have to pull up the spec on it but its usually about 1/2 a clutch off! Thats a great deal.

Im really tired of seeing people just go on and onere. :)

i'm asking to better understand - why are they a "1/2 a clutch off"?   are older generations similarly off and just don't exhibit symptoms or are these off for some specific reason?



#22 Gloyale

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 01:18 PM

Really?  Who cares about some lousy law...grow up, graduate from Kindergarten and get a waiver.

 

Your cavalier boastery is foolishly ignorant.  Sounds like your the one that is refusing to "grow up" and face the rules of the road.......like adults with the privilege of driving all have to do.  You better care about "some stupid law" or get your dumb arse off the road, OK?

 

You can't "get a waiver" to run studs in states where it's illegal.

 

They can hear you driving with them on.  And see them. 

 

You will be ticketed and possibly made to tow your car to a tire shop.  Or they'll just tow it for you to the impound lot.

 

I love studs, and I run them here in Oregon in the winter.  But when I lived in Wisconsin I used non-studded snow tires (Blizzaks)


Edited by Gloyale, 06 January 2014 - 01:22 PM.


#23 brus brother

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 02:02 PM

Last winter I experienced horrendous handling in my 05 OB and at first I thought the ghost had taken up residence in my car.

Turns out the alignment was way off. The four corners of the car were fighting each other for supremacy.

New tires/balance and alignment and the ghost was exorcised.

Just sayin' if you hear something clip-clopping down the road, chances are it is a horse and not a zebra.

Common things occur commonly.



#24 afterbang

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 06:57 PM

he said it has and those can generally fall in the range of possibility.  2005-2008 is what he listed.  subaruoutback.org has lots of threads/discussion about it.


I keep on reading conflicting information on this topic and cannot seem to sort the factual from the anecdotal. Per the subaruoutback.org website: "Ghostwalking does not seem to affect European/Austrailian/Japanense spec Outbacks, nor does it affect the Legacy cars."

"The USA Outback is raised an additional inch compared to Outbacks sold in other regions and does not include a load-dependent self-leveling system. It is plausible that the added height and lack of self-leveling feature compromises the suspension geometry and driving dynamics."

However, I have read instances where people have complained about symptoms of this issue in their Legacy NON-Outback wagons. I am sure I will not find definitive answers to my questions, but I was hoping someone on here with more knowledge of the problem could let me know if buying an N/A 05 Legacy 2.5i would be a sound purchase.

#25 efseiler

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Posted 06 January 2014 - 11:43 PM

Your cavalier boastery is foolishly ignorant.  Sounds like your the one that is refusing to "grow up" and face the rules of the road.......like adults with the privilege of driving all have to do.  You better care about "some stupid law" or get your dumb arse off the road, OK?

 

You can't "get a waiver" to run studs in states where it's illegal.

 

They can hear you driving with them on.  And see them. 

 

You will be ticketed and possibly made to tow your car to a tire shop.  Or they'll just tow it for you to the impound lot.

 

OK...so you have the guts to talk to me like that...but a law-abiding citizen in one state can be a serious felon in another and vice-versa.

 

 

Sooo...kids and adults alike need to think about that.

 

--Damien






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