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Bad shimy above 60mph '00obw


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24 replies to this topic

#1 porcupine73

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 08:26 AM

Hi, 2000 Outback wagon 2.5L n/a auto trans 119k miles.

It has been having a somewhat bad shimy above about 60mph. It shakes the steering wheel back and forth a little bit.

If I take my hand off the wheel, I can see it move back and forth, and it pulls to the left fairly hard. It does not pull below ~60mph, and below 60mph there is a little shimmy but hardly noticeable. Boom, >60mph shimy. The vehicle is driveable with this shimy; it's just pretty iritating.

It has some other pecularities...

  • Seems to happen mainly when cool/cold outside, say <50 deg F.
  • This summer it was fine, but I remember it doing this last winter.
  • It just started doing it again after I had my NYS inspection last Friday. I noticed it immediately after the inspection.
  • I rotated the front tires to the rear last night, and it still has the same shimy.
  • Tires are Pirelli P400 that were on when I got the vehicle.
  • Tires seem to be wearing evenly; no cupping or scaloping or anything noted
  • I also have Michelin X-ice winter tires on steel wheels; I can't remember for sure but I think I ran these last winter and it had that shimy sometimes too.
  • A few times in the past, I have slowed down on the highway to say <30mph, then when I sped back up to >60mph....no shimmy, smooth as glass; but shimy returns again later.
  • Shook down suspension by hand; no noticed looseness. Wheel bearings are smooth with no noticeable freeplay.

So what say ye to check? Thanks zzz

#2 ccrinc

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 08:28 AM

Your tires need to be balanced. And you probably could use an alignment too.
What you're describing are typical symptoms.


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#3 ron917

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 11:45 AM

Ditto on the wheel balance. I just went through this with our minivan with similar symptoms, except that the shimmy started at about 67 MPH. Sam's Club, where I bought the tires, didn't get it right. What do you expect for $9 for mounting, valve stem, lifetime balance and roadhazard warranty? The local STS (tire shop chain) charges $10.95 per tire for balancing, but they always get it right the first time.

#4 porcupine73

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 12:54 PM

Ok thanks! Sounds like I need to locate a reliable alignment shop in my area that also has a nice tire balancer.

#5 mtsmiths

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 01:18 PM

Ok thanks! Sounds like I need to locate a reliable alignment shop in my area that also has a nice tire balancer.


While there, have them check the tire for ply seperation. Could be delamination within the tire ... gives you that 'squirmey' feeling.

#6 ericem

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 03:58 PM

Might even be a broken belt in the tire if its not a steady vibration.

#7 porcupine73

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 06:17 PM

Ok thanks for all the help. I've narrowed it down to the tire currently at the front right position.

When I got home, I
  • Removed left front tire
  • Put Michellin x-ice winter tire on left front position as a test
  • Put in FWD fuse as x-ice was about an inch more circumference
  • Took test drive up to 65mph....no dice; shimy still there
  • Put original left front tire back in place
  • Removed front right tire
  • Put Michellin x-ice winter tire on right front position as a test
  • Took test drive up to 65mph....AHAHHH that's better, no more shimy.
  • Put some dynabeads I had left over in the front right tire to see if that makes difference and reinstall front right tire
  • Took test drive up to 65mph....a little better but shimy still there.
So that's how far I got. I don't know how much I want to mess with these tires now that I think about it; they have some tread left but not a whole lot....mmm good excuse to get new tires?!

Also noticed that even at lower speeds, if I turn the wheel left a little then right, even though it isn't shimying much going straight, it does feel squirmy for a split second as the wheel is turned.

#8 ericem

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 08:10 PM

Maybe time for some new larger rims and going a little lower profile.

#9 porcupine73

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 08:25 PM

Maybe time for some new larger rims and going a little lower profile.

hey hey I think you might be onto something! :lol:

#10 ericem

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Posted 16 October 2007 - 08:34 PM

hey hey I think you might be onto something! :lol:


Me too :eek: My 93 lego's hub caps aren't as great in today's world :lol:

#11 Caboobaroo

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 12:01 AM

Being the head alignment techician at a tire store (Les Schwab in Redmond, WA) I have seen other things not too uncommon to cause a vibration while the alignment and tires check out. If you get an alignment and the tires balanced and the shimmy continues, check the up and down movement of the CV axles. It should move up and down just a hair but if its anything more then that, time for a CV axle. I had a '98 Legacy Outback come in with the same vibration, would do it and then it wouldn't, (after he had an alignment and his tires balanced 4 times) and turns out the CV axle had excessive movement. Replaced the axle (driver side front) and the vibration was gone. Customer hasn't had a problem with it for 2 weeks now and he does a lot of freeway driving.

#12 porcupine73

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Posted 17 October 2007 - 07:38 AM

Ah ok thanks Caboobaroo. I did check the freeplay on the axles while in there; the right/pass side is an MWE I put in a few months ago, it has a small amount of play by shaking at the inner joint. The driver side I think is the original, it seems to have a little more play than the MWE but not too much. I think it does have a pinhole in the outer boot.

Say do you know if it is practicable for someone to at least do a quick toe check with the strings method? My boss was telling me that's how he does the alignment on his race car. String tied between two jackstands, placed the same distance out from the hubs, the uses a steel ruler to measure the tire's distance from the string?

Thinking so far it is the wheel/tire, as I tried a different wheel&tire on the front right and the shimy went away, but yes it was weird because it seemed to do it only when cool/cold out.

#13 porcupine73

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 02:36 PM

It seems if I make a hard left turn, especially over railroad tracks, then the shimy is gone above 60mph. If I make a hard right turn, boom, nasty shimmy is back over 60mph. Does that sound like a shifted belt or something maybe? I know it is the front right tire from previous experiments.

#14 ericem

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 02:42 PM

Definitely still could be. Think about the way a tire is balanced. Do they just spin it fast and apply pressure to certain areas? Maybe the same thing is happening when you go over the railroad track.

#15 porcupine73

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 02:57 PM

Yes it's kind of like a toggle switch. Make hard left esp over railroad tracks, then happily drive vehicle above 60mph no shimmy, can start/stop, sit overnight etc., but curse the time I make a sharp right, then go over 60mph, shimy is there, until I can find opportunity to make sharp hard left again.

#16 J A Blazer

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 04:32 PM

Be sure to check the boots (inner and outer) on both front axles. At that mileage, if they are original, they may have split and spun out all the grease.

#17 montana105

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 04:48 PM

This is a little baffling. You said you have two sets of tires and in the past both sets have produced shimmy,yet you are able to replace the front right with one of the tires that also showed shimmy. I'm thinking this is more suspension or steering related possibly even a brake rotor. Keep us informed of your results.

#18 porcupine73

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Posted 25 October 2007 - 04:56 PM

Ok, will do. Not sure what to make of it. It is confusing. These pirelli tires don't have a ton of tread left anyway so am considering new ones and an alignment; unfortunately I think I missed the $100 discounttiredirect.com discount.....oh well may see who Nile recommends.

#19 wtdash

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 04:52 PM

Interested to know if you've put on the Michelins or got new treads and the result?

I've got a similar issue that occurs w/both my all-seasons and studded snows. I thought it may be due to the struts needing replaced....but the CV axles are both from the local Autozone (I know! I know!), so maybe they're the culprit.

#20 mnwolftrack

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 05:20 PM

Other causes for a vibration can include:

1. driveshaft issues (bent, out of balance, u-joint, loose bolts)
2. dirt/mud caked to the backside of the wheel
3. bent wheel
4. flat spot in tire (e.g. skidding to a stop)
5. alignment wear on tire(s)
6. worn axleshafts, CV joints, or bearings that the axles ride on/in in the transmission or hub assembly (likely not your issue)


Simply rotating tires to different positions on the same vehicle may not be enough, particularly if they are all the same age and wear. You said you tried swapping a completely different tire and wheel one at a time to each front position. Your results would indicate the right front tire/wheel were the issue. It could be a worn tire, seperated belt (not super common anymore), thrown wheel weight, or a bent wheel (rail road tracks like to do that).

I'll further point out that vibrations felt in your fanny but not the steering wheel are typically not in the front end. Vibrations felt in the steering wheel with the steering wheel actually shimmying back and forth on it's own typically mean the front end (and most often a tire or wheel issue).

I recently just put tires on my wife's car. It had some pretty lousy and worn tires on it, and I could feel vibrations in the steering wheel just as you described, and I could feel it in my fanny. Not only were the front tires in bad need of repair (front shimmy), one of the rear wheels was bent causing the vibration in the butt.

And speaking of tires for my wife's car, I just bought four Blizzak WS-60 snow's off tirerack.com and am very happy with them. I've never bought snows before, but I must say, these things are quieter than the sissy all-seasons we threw away! We still need some snow to test out their snow capabilities, but these things look wicked yet sophisicated and are supposed to be Bridgestone's latest greatest thing.

#21 porcupine73

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 06:11 PM

Thanks for the info. Yes I like Blizzaks too. I can make my shimmy problem above 60mph go away by making a good sharp left turn. Then it's fine until I make a sharp right turn and the shimmy above 60mph returns. I think right front tire because it was shimmying bad, I swapped in a different tire (snow tire), the shimmy was completely gone, put the original tire back on, and the shimmy was back.

#22 mnwolftrack

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Posted 14 November 2007 - 08:58 PM

Yes, it does sound like the tire and/or wheel.

This kind of thing is especially noticable to me because I run 35" mud terrains on my SUV and 33" tires on my pickup. They are HARD to balance and they'll never balance as smoothly as a normal size car tire. I even run dual steering stabilizers, and the shimmy will still come through. These big tires really pronounce and emphasize tire balance and wheel problems.

I worked in a tire shop for several years, so I've seen a lot of stuff. We didn't do alignements or anything else besides just tires and batteries, but it gave me a lot of good experience. If a regular car tire is off an once, you can often hear and feel it on the tire balancer. In the same respect, if my 35" mud tire is off an once, it won't matter! Even if my 35" tire "balances" out correctly, it still normally won't make it truely balanced.

#23 porcupine73

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 01:32 PM

Hello. I just wanted to post an update on this issue. It has been about five years since I first posted about this issue, and I have been living with it since then. Even with different tires and wheels it still persisted.

I believe the issue turns out to have been a faulty front right wheel bearing. I finally in the last few months noticed looseness in it, so I replaced it. The handling is much better, it doesn't seem to wander as much. So far I have not noticed any shimmying anymore, the wheel is dead smooth even up to 70mph. Which is very very good!

Interestingly, this wheel bearing really didn't give any signs of being bad until the very slight noticeable looseness in the last few months. Before that, it felt tight, but it seems like it may have been the cause.

#24 coolskaterkid

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 01:46 PM

good to know i have done, alot to my front end even a steering rack and cant get rid of the shimmy, so i will go ahead and try wheel bearings since i cant find anything else in the front end.

#25 Caboobaroo

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Posted 24 June 2012 - 02:42 PM

What's funny is I'm currently having an issue with my '04 Outback. Right after we got it, my better half avoided an accident but ended up hitting a ditch instead. Now it has a vibration that starts at 65 and gets worse as you go faster. Also makes it unsteady at highway speeds and darts a bit. I did all the suspension work it needed and aligned the vehicle so everything is on point. I figured it was going to be a bent hub or a wheel bearing on the left front corner as that's the side that hit the ditch.




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