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ElPkLegacy 06-13-2012 04:36 PM

New Owner with Handling Questions

I just bought my first ever Subaru, so I'm new to the forum and new to the car as a whole. It's a 2012 Legacy Premium 2.5 CVT, and overall I think it's a great car. I wanted something safe for my family and good in winter without having to get an SUV. The second I drove it off the lot I noticed that when I had the steering wheel at center the car had a strong veer to the left. (Never test drove this specific model while looking.) I was able to get the car moving in a straight line on the highway when the steering wheel was a few degrees right of center and on a coast it stayed pretty true so I figure the wheels are balanced ok and it is an alignment issue. Took it to the dealer and they made some adjustments but it's still slightly off and continuing to veer left. Less so then before, but still there.

I also noticed on my first long highway trip that at 60-75mph the car seemed to fight me to stay straight. I didn't feel like I was moving the steering wheel around but I always seemed to be correcting it. I previously owned a Saab 9-5 and we currently own a VW Rabbit and neither ever felt this way on the road. I thought that perhaps the movement and "heavyness" of the steering was due to it being an AWD, but I've driven my parents Audi with Quattro and that never felt this way.

Is this highway wandering something that is fixable or is it just a quirk of the Subaru AWD and something to get used to over time. And does anyone have thoughts about the alignment.

You help and suggestions are appreciated.

Thank you.

minuccims 06-13-2012 05:42 PM

Not right. If the road you are using is severely channeled and humped, the car will follow the groove.

These cars are sensitive to tire pressure. Make sure the front has 1-2 psi more than the rears. Try 34/32 and 35/33 first and see if that helps.

Jace2010LGT 06-13-2012 06:14 PM

Any car will follow ruts or road crown. Subarus are slightly more succeptable to this because the alignment settings are completely neutral. A knowledgeable tech can make a car do anything if he fully understands alignment adjustments. The steering wheel is slightly off center because it wasn't perfectly straight when he adjusted the alignment. I just did an alignment on my car after I put the stock springs back on. My legacy wanted .00 degrees front and rear camber and .00 degrees toe fr and rear. This is a completely neutral setting and may cause the car to wander at high speed. By comparison a 2010 Camry will have positive rear toe of .15 per side for a total of .30 rear toe. It will have .05 neg fr camber per side for a total of .10 and the same for front toe. These settings greatly improve steering wheel return and high speed stability. This is the reason a Camry feels so stable. When I did my alignment I set my car at .10 per side rear toe and .05 per side fr toe with .02 per side fr camber. These are all positive numbers. I used these setting because I spend most of my time on the interstate and value good tracking. If the road is rutted or has excessive crown the car will still follow the ruts or crown but high speed instability will be greatly improved. The numbers above may seem drastic but we are talking about tenths of a degree and will not cause abnormal tire wear. If you have a good place ask them to run these settings they will greatly improve tracking. Hope this helps if you have any questions feel free to ask.

Jace2010LGT 06-13-2012 07:00 PM

Just looked and I ment to say .02 negative camber per side everything else is positive.

ElPkLegacy 06-13-2012 07:08 PM

Thank you for your replies.

All the alignment tests I did were on newly paved roads with negligible slope, but your points are well taken.

I will certainly double check the tire pressure and see about those adjustments.

I will also copy the information on alignment you supplied and see what the service department can do. I have just under 500 miles on the car and want to put on another 500 to get an even better sense of how this car performs. Since I too do a lot of highway driving and it's important to feel secure on the road and not feel like I am in a tug of war with the car. I'm not as knowledgeable about what the adjustments mean but will do some research to understand more.

Thank you again and if you have any further tips or suggestions please feel free to pass them along.

Jace2010LGT 06-13-2012 07:19 PM

If the tech tells you he can't do these setting he's lying. He may also try to scare you by saying it will wear your tires out. This is because he doesn't understand alignment basics and just does what the machine tells him to and also because warranty pays him very little to do a alignment adjustment. If you live close to Atlanta let me know and I'll do it. If I can explain anything let me know. Good luck.

halwith 06-13-2012 07:19 PM

Hi and welcome! This is present in my 2011 also. You will hear many suggestions of how you will use your time and money to fix subaru's poor design! There will also be others to tell you that the legacy is solid as a rock on the highway and that you cant drive or are stupid in some way, please ignore them! There truely is something wrong with your car. mine also and a few others here.

There has been some mention of people having luck with modified alignment specs and new tires. BUT ITS NOT COVERED UNDER WARRANTY. maybe you can start fighting with the dealer now and get subaru to buy it back in the near future.

I've personally been able to talk 3 people from buying the legacy just by letting them test drive mine on the highway. Its a shame you will have to deal with subaru now. best of luck. Keep us updated.

Jace2010LGT 06-13-2012 07:23 PM

If you go to a reputable shop and pay for an alignment they have no way of knowing what's been done and not. The above setting will make it much better. If I were you I'd invest $89 to have someone align it to the above specs. Just please use a reputable shop not pep boys etc.

ElPkLegacy 06-13-2012 08:02 PM

Do you mean the new specs are not covered under warranty? My service tech at the dealership told me that alignment issues are fully covered under the 3yr/36K warranty and so I was planning to speak with him about it.

Thank you for the offer Jace2010LGT, but I live in Northern New Jersey.

Jace2010LGT 06-13-2012 08:17 PM

Yes they are covered when you put it to their specs. Good luck let us know how it turns out.

halwith 06-13-2012 09:38 PM

the dealer initially claimed it was an issue with the tires. they check and adjusted the alignment, then told me alignments arent covered because subaru cant control potholes and such which knock alignments out.

after much complaining i ate 50 dollars for alignment, it still sways like crazy as i found out this weekend.
regardless of the outcome, be sure to file your complaint. subaru should build better than this.

canadianelbow 06-13-2012 11:07 PM


Originally Posted by Jace2010LGT (Post 3937485)
Yes they are covered when you put it to their specs. Good luck let us know how it turns out.

Alignment specs have tolerances. There is never (never is a pretty strong word) a acamber spec that requires a 0 camber with a +-0. The front end guy should be able to get it within factory tolerance, but still provide a little negative camber. A slight amount of toe in would go a long way too like Jace mentioned before. 0 toe, and 0 camber doesn't offer alot of forced support.

LegacyZero 06-14-2012 12:40 AM

-.05 camber will offer slightly better stability front and rear. i have set up my car that way(-.04 front and -.05 rear) but i also am running 37 psi in the front and 35 in the rear. i don't have any wondering issues but my toe is at factory specs. it also might have to do with the relatively narrow tires on the 2.5i model. are you getting any swaying in the rear as well?

10legacy 06-14-2012 04:54 AM

I had the wandering issue with my 2010 2.5i, it was terrible to drive on the highway.

I thought the 2012 already had a thicker rear sway bar than the 2010's but if your 2012 doesn't have a thicker sway bar the first thing you should do is put a bigger rear sway bar in, 19mm or bigger. I put on a 20mm

the stock tires if they are the turanza 400's still are really soft and putting on a set of stiffer sidewall tires helps a lot.

with new tires and a bigger rear sway bar the stability issue was completely solved for me. it just sucks that you have to spend your own money to get the car to drive the way it should.

ElPkLegacy 06-14-2012 07:13 AM

I haven't noticed any rear sway, but I did read that the 2013 Legacy's are getting a retuned suspension that might address some of these issues people are having.

Adjusting the tire pressure is an easy option to try and I will review all the alignment specs with the service department to get the best and safest highway ride possible.

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