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Roof Rack on OBW and stability in windy conditions


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8 replies to this topic

#1 SubaruForDan

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 11:11 PM

I have a 99 obw, owned since new. I think I have used the roof rack all of one time since I got the car.

Lately, I've been noticing more and more, that during gusty wind conditions, my car is being tossed around, a lot. It feels about as stable as balancing a sheet of plywood on a bowling ball.

I got new tires last november, and that helped a lot. On calm days, which seems to happen maybe once every 2 months, it is billiard table smooth. Anything more than a gentle zephyr, and it is white knuckle death grip time. Ok, I'll admit to being slightly melodramatic there.

The suspension bits are still original. I've asked the techs at my dealership if worn parts could contribute to the problem, only to be greeted with blank, unknowing looks.

I swear this was not always the case, but it could be just me. I happen to be particularly attuned to proprioception. The short version of the explanation, I feel very small movements of the car and am acutely aware of them.

Would removing the cross members help to reduce this 'grabbing' feeling I'm getting from the gusty winds? I was actually thinking of removing the rails altogether. I never use them, and am sick of the wind whipping my car around.

They call the wind Maria, I call it 'not that b*tch again':D

#2 stevecd

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 11:29 PM

I don't think the racks grab as much air as you think it does since if they did a lot of people would take them off. I would lean towards the problem being with the suspension. besides if you take the rails off you will probably have two marks going down your car.

#3 JT95

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 11:35 PM

I don't think the racks grab as much air as you think it does since if they did a lot of people would take them off. I would lean towards the problem being with the suspension. besides if you take the rails off you will probably have two marks going down your car.


I'd have to agree there. My 95 wagon has the factory roof rack, plus the bike carrier trays I added, and it doesn't feel any different than any non roof-rack cars I drive in the wind. Plus if you have always had the roof rack but used to not notice the unstability in wind, I doubt that'd be the cause.

#4 a97obw

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Posted 28 March 2006 - 11:58 PM

Getting rid of the roof rack cross members on my 97 outback got rid of a LOT of the wind noise/whistling stuff. But like yours, a good cross wind is quite noticeable in the outback. I think even a lot more noticeable than in my old 92 legacy AWD wagon. Must be the slightly taller roof line.

However, it is nothing like driving a 66 VW microbus in a cross wind, where you hold the near horizontal extra-extra large pizza sized steering wheel 40 degrees into the wind to keep going straight....and when that gust stops look out!!:eek:

#5 jamal

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 07:05 AM

I definitely don't think the cross bars would make a significant difference. The only things I notice are that my ski racks make a lot of noise and my top speed drops a bit with the rack on.

It could be a bunch of things, although I'm mainly thinking struts. A trashed bushing somewhere or loose tie rods would probably be more noticable in normal every day driving.

Struts gradually wear out so you don't really notice. Then when you put on some new ones it's like "wow, this is awesome!"

60k miles is getting there for struts, and I'm guessing you have at least that.

#6 Ranger83

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 10:15 AM

///Would removing the cross members help to reduce this 'grabbing' feeling I'm getting from the gusty winds? I was actually thinking of removing the rails altogether. I never use them, and am sick of the wind whipping my car around.

Probably not. I have always removed mine and put them in the back. It makes snow easier to clear and a little less noise on the highway.

Check wheel alignment and tire pressure. The gusts won't move the car as much as the air warms up, as well.

#7 SubaruForDan

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 01:10 PM

Struts gradually wear out so you don't really notice. Then when you put on some new ones it's like "wow, this is awesome!"

60k miles is getting there for struts, and I'm guessing you have at least that.


That was what I was thinking, yet, when I asked the techs, I got the Stepford Wives look. Dull, blank, uninterested, vacant, bovine, etc. Sheesh, you would think they'd at least try to sell me new struts and separate me from more of my money:brow:

I don't think the higher roofline is really the culprit. Like I said before, I sense small movements very readily. Why does it seem like I'm driving the 66 microbus clinging for dear life while everybody else seems obliviously unconcerned in their much taller SUVs?

What about dents in the door panels? I had a Bambi encounter a year ago new years eve. Not one but 3 deer ran into the side of my car, when I stopped to keep from running over their mother. There is a substantial crumble in my driver side rear door. Would that significantly increase susceptivity to turbulence? And, no, I didn't get it fixed because I simply do not have the 500 out of pocket to cover the deductible.

#8 nipper

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 03:40 PM

Getting rid of the roof rack cross members on my 97 outback got rid of a LOT of the wind noise/whistling stuff. But like yours, a good cross wind is quite noticeable in the outback. I think even a lot more noticeable than in my old 92 legacy AWD wagon. Must be the slightly taller roof line.

However, it is nothing like driving a 66 VW microbus in a cross wind, where you hold the near horizontal extra-extra large pizza sized steering wheel 40 degrees into the wind to keep going straight....and when that gust stops look out!!:eek:



hehe try a 1988 GL hatchback with a crosswind. Those skinny tires and the suspension gemoetry made that a handful on a good cross wind. Unfortunitly due to the suspension geometry on the subaru and the boxy design of any station wagon, your going to get pushed around. If it is a truly windy day, crack the windows on the downwind side of the car. The car doesnt get blown as much as it gets pulled by the lower pressure on the opposite side of the car. By cracking those windows, you reduce the pressure differential, hence you reduce the pull on the car. This works better on some cars then others.

nipper

#9 SubaruForDan

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 06:03 PM

If it is a truly windy day, crack the windows on the downwind side of the car. The car doesnt get blown as much as it gets pulled by the lower pressure on the opposite side of the car. By cracking those windows, you reduce the pressure differential, hence you reduce the pull on the car. This works better on some cars then others.

nipper


Now that is something that I had never even given any consideration to. I'll have to try it.




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