flat4_5spd Reader
6/18/24 8:30 p.m.

I'm working on an '08 Outback.  The driver (not me!)  smacked the right front wheel into a curb in the rain. Post crash, the steering wheel needed to be held at about 1/4 turn to the right for the car to go straight and the passenger side wheel was displaced backwards in the wheel arch- very close to the mud flap.  The right lower control arm was a bit buckled, but tire and rim seem A-OK.  Nothing else seems obviously bent. I installed a brand new OEM LCA/ball joint. The wheel is now centered in the wheel arch, but the car still needs almost 1/4 turn of the steering wheel to the right to go straight.  

Here's where it gets strange. Before sending the car to be aligned, I thought I'd look things over to avoid a "your tie rod/subframe/frame rails are bent, we can't align it" call from the shop. I put a long straight edge on the passenger's side wheel- with the steering wheel set straight, the straight edge is almost perfectly parallel to the body lines.  I did the same on the driver's side and the tire is toed out (pointing to the left when the steering wheel is set straight.) 

I am so confused, I'd understand if things were tweaked on the passenger's side, but it would seem that the relationship between the steering wheel and the angle of the driver's side tire would be dictated by the length of the tie rod on the driver's side, the position of the steering rack etc. It all looks fine and for the wheel to be toed out, the driver's side tie rod would have to be LONGER. (It's front steer) Bending a tie rod can only make it shorter.  

The driver swears that nothing other than the right front wheel smacked the curb. Does anyone have any ideas? I know it's hard to diagnose w/o seeing it, but I feel like I'm missing something obvious.  


GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/18/24 8:38 p.m.

Maybe worn rack bushings and the rack shifted? Could it be that the subframe shifted or was bent?

Apexcarver MegaDork
6/18/24 8:38 p.m.

Bent subframe.

Measure front track width.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Publisher
6/18/24 9:05 p.m.

Assuming the subframe isn't bent, I'd guess the steering rack shifted--either worn bushings, broken mounts or some combination of the two. 

flat4_5spd Reader
6/18/24 9:30 p.m.

OK, thanks to all for the suggestions- I'll report back when I have some more info! 

Hopefully someone got the ancient car meme referenced in my title, I think it was a VW Vortex thing 20 years ago. 


GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/18/24 9:33 p.m.

In reply to flat4_5spd :

I got it. We still use that in the GRM AC league laugh

Edit: Seems the original has been lost to history sadly: https://www.vwvortex.com/threads/crub-two-fents.2475906/

wvumtnbkr GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
6/18/24 10:02 p.m.

I got it right away.  I was thrilled and intrigued to see the reference.


Well done.


I feel like you should add D.E.I to this car.


Also, pretty sure the rack or subframe isn't straight.  Also, whats the gap at the back of the fender on the passenger side versus drivers side?  In other words, is the entire front end tweaked?

flat4_5spd Reader
6/18/24 10:50 p.m.

When you say "gap at the back of the fender" are you talking distance between the wheel/tire and the wheel arch/mudflap? It was tight with the old LCA, the wheel was pushed in the direction of the rear of the car,  but seems normal with the new LCA, wheel seems centered in the arch and the distance seems symmetrical side to side (just using finger width to check the gap, I haven't broken out the calipers yet)  

The "add D E I to this car" reference went over my head. Another old school meme? 


GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/18/24 10:57 p.m.
Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/18/24 11:07 p.m.

Is there a load cam knock?


Measure the distance from the tie rod end to the rim.  Betcha the upright is bent.


It's possible that the rack got shifted in the subframe but not likely without breakage.


Here's a fun thing to try.  Hold the brakes firmly then (with the engine running) turn the steering wheel all the way to the left against its stop.  Then force it.  Feel if anything in the front suspension pops/gives way like the rack is shifting.


Do you still have the same number of turns left to right?  It might in theory be possible to for the pinion to jump teeth on the rack, but this is an anorexically thin likelihood.

Rocambolesque Reader
6/18/24 11:15 p.m.

Better ask the driver if he heard a load cam knock wink

chandler MegaDork
6/19/24 7:11 p.m.
Rocambolesque said:

Better ask the driver if he heard a load cam knock wink

I had the drawing saved forever but can't find it now

flat4_5spd Reader
6/24/24 5:01 p.m.

I am still completely stumped on this one. Tried to do a string alignment check to get a better feel for the issue. 

Visually set the steering wheel straight and confirmed with scan tool (it's a VDC equipped car) 


Driver's side: 

Half an inch off (this is the rear of the tire, so it's toed out) 


Passenger's side (side of hit, new lower control arm) 

It's hard to see, but it's touching both front and back fine. 


I pried on the steering rack to see if I could shift it, I inspected the mounts for it,  cranked the steering wheel hard against the stops in both directions to see if anything shifted or bound or made noise...nada.  The subframe appears centered, I measured things as well as I could. 

I'm assuming that 1/2" out is beyond the "adjust it and shrug" range? 

GameboyRMH GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/24/24 6:02 p.m.

Considering the direction of the shift it makes sense that the subframe is still in the correct position, which makes it even more surprising that the steering rack doesn't seem to have moved. The steering rack shifting to the left could've explained all of this.

Where is the steering wheel angle sensor, on the column or the rack? If it's on the column, could it be that something in the column twisted or slipped, like a splined connection?

flat4_5spd Reader
6/24/24 7:16 p.m.

I think the sensor is in the column. IIRC, there are no wires or anything going to the rack. If something in the column, the coupler, etc slipped or bent, I'd expect that the passenger's side would also be showing equal toe to the left. The distance outer tire rod end to other tie rod end SHOULD be the same. 

I made an appointment at an alignment shop tomorrow. We'll see what they make of it. I suspect I'll be getting a "no can do" call, but I sure hope they can figure out what I can't.  This is making me feel stupid. I guess I should feel lucky that I don't have extensive experience repairing tweaked suspension parts. 

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/25/24 3:28 a.m.
Rocambolesque said:

Better ask the driver if he heard a load cam knock wink

I need a tshirt with this on it. 

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