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Strange feeling / slight wandering on road '96 Legacy

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Hi, in the last week I've started to notice a strange feeling in my '96 Legacy Brighton 2.2L AT 130k miles. It's hard to describe. It seems like it feels slightly fishy on the highway, like it will drift in the lane just a bit. It's not very bad, and it has been pretty windy the last week, but it just feels odd.


In turns it feels funny too. It almost feels like inside rear weel in the turn is going to lift off the ground. I know it isn't going to but it just feels strange.


It doesn't feel unsafe at all, it is just something different from normal.


Do not feel any strangeness or freeplay in the steering wheel.


Now a couple of the tires are in a bit of rough shape, tread really worn down, definitely need replacing. Not sure if that's it.


I shook the entire suspension down. Everything is tight, struts and springs in good shape, tie rods inner and outer good, wheel bearings no looseness, strut mounts good, sway bars and end links good.


Lug nuts all tight. I always check that first because I've had them loosen up on me a couple times in the past. That was when I was trying to use a torque stick instead of a torque wrench though.


Acts the same in AWD or FWD.


The one thing I did notice is the right ball joint is loose. It has noticeable freeplay when using a pry bar on it. Could that be causing this feeling?

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Hey after reading this...Yes the ball joint could be part of the problem but with that when is the last time you had a TRUE 4 wheel alignment.

The reason I ask is that my 97 obs 5 speed had a similar characteristic. I had pretty worn tires but no cupping and my car felt great after doing the alignment. I was able to do mine myself and knew it was all dead on but depending on your ability if you go to a shop just be specific that you want all 4 aligned not just a front toe and go.

Hope this helps,


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Thanks, it has never had a true 4 wheel alignment such as on a laser rack. I have done the toe and camber on all wheels myself, but that was probably three years ago. It does seem to pull to the left a bit, and the front left tire, well it is in rough shape, but it was somewhat like that when I put it on  (borrowed the tires from a different vehicle). It might not even match the make/model of the other tires (but I run in FWD mode most of the time).


I am happy at least that I didn't turn up anything suspiciuosly loose, other than that ball joint, in the shakedown. That tells me it's probably not unsafe to drive. The feeling is slight, it's very strange, noticable to me that it is different than normal but hard to quite put a finger on how to describe it.

Edited by porcupine73

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Had the same sort of feeling for a long time in my 96. Several things made a difference.

First was the bushings on the steering rack. The factory rubber bushings had fallen apart and were practically gone because of oil contamination. Replaced with Whiteline polyurethane rack bushings and took a lot of slop out of the steering. Fixed some of the wandering.

Had a front transverse arm bushing that was leaking fluid (grey silicone goop) and that fixed some of it.

I just replaced the front bushings on the rear trailing arms, also installed a bigger (outback) sway bar in the rear and that pretty much took care of it I think.

It still feels stupid on the back roads but it doesn't walk all over the lane on the interstate anymore, which is where it was the worst before. Anything above 60 and it would just wander its own way down the road.

Not sure what else to replace because the rest of the bushings feel solid, ball joints are in good shape, tie rod ends are all new within the last couple years. Alignment about 8 months ago after some suspension upgrades and it felt no different after the alignment than it had before.

Steering rack bushings, transverse bushings, and the trailing arm bushings all made noticeable differences.

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