Outback Bucking and Lurching

Posted in the Subaru Outback Forum

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Tom Kirkman

United States

#1 Aug 6, 2006
I just bought a new Subaru Impreza OutBack Sport day before yesterday. Driving it about 100 miles yesterday, I noticed an uncomfortable bucking and lurching, back and forth, back and forth. No so bad it tosses you around, but you and the passenger both definitely feel it. This happens when you lift your foot off the accelerator to coast or when you allow the engine to brake down a hill. The problem is particularly bad when the AC unit is on.

My dealer said the problem should go away as I drive it more and the engine breaks in. I think he was just trying to get me to go away.

So my question is, is this thing normal with a Subaru? It's uncomfortable - sort of like being in an erratic rocking chair or on a bucking mule. Do all Subarus do this to some extent? What is it I'm feeling? Any comments are appreciated. This is my first Subaru so I really don't have any other Subaru product to compare it to.
the dude

San Francisco, CA

#2 Aug 21, 2006
After 5 repair attempts and over 30 days of repair time, I am in the process of lemon lawing my wife's subaru outback xt ltd. that has a problem similar to yours. The dealer pretended that the bucking was "turbo lag," claimed that I had fed the car bad gas, and some other nonsense. I politely explained that their arguments were idiotic. Once Subaru admitted that the problem exists, the dealer never could fix it. It sounds like it should be a recall issue; lots of people complain about it online, but my dealer insisted my car was the only one with the problem. I suspect that they turn a lot of people away with their insincere suggestions that bucking is "turbo lag" or that it will go away after a break in period.

My car felt like it was missing on a couple cylinders. On this last repair attempt they admitted that their computer confirmed my diagnosis, but weeks have passed and they cannot correct it.

Keep records, don't be put off by stupid arguments, and get familiar with your state's Lemon Law if it comes to that. Good luck.
Bill

Tucson, AZ

#3 Sep 5, 2006
What year is the car?
John in Wisconsin

Madison, WI

#4 Sep 7, 2006
I've had the "lurchinig" problem with a 2001 Outback with an automatic transmission. It is always solved by replacing a sensor that controls shifting. The sensor fails about every ten months (just short of being out of warranty at least). But it didn't start until the car was three years old.
John in Oz

Coalstoun Lakes, Australia

#5 Nov 24, 2006
Do you know which sensor it is and if it registers an error code? My Outback has just started doing this recently at 6 years old.
Alan Donenfeld

Gibsons, Canada

#6 Dec 11, 2006
I've noticed the same problem in my new Subaru Forester - did you ever get any resolution?
Tom Kirkman wrote:
I just bought a new Subaru Impreza OutBack Sport day before yesterday. Driving it about 100 miles yesterday, I noticed an uncomfortable bucking and lurching, back and forth, back and forth. No so bad it tosses you around, but you and the passenger both definitely feel it. This happens when you lift your foot off the accelerator to coast or when you allow the engine to brake down a hill. The problem is particularly bad when the AC unit is on.
My dealer said the problem should go away as I drive it more and the engine breaks in. I think he was just trying to get me to go away.
So my question is, is this thing normal with a Subaru? It's uncomfortable - sort of like being in an erratic rocking chair or on a bucking mule. Do all Subarus do this to some extent? What is it I'm feeling? Any comments are appreciated. This is my first Subaru so I really don't have any other Subaru product to compare it to.
Anthony Whiting

Jacksonville, FL

#7 Sep 11, 2007
I also have the problem of bucking when I lift my foot off the accelerator to caoast in my Subaru Forester 4 cylinder shift car. Does anybody else have the same problem? What can be done about it? The Subaru dealership says the bucking is normal and nothing can be done about it. Really???!!!
Tom Kirkman wrote:
I just bought a new Subaru Impreza OutBack Sport day before yesterday. Driving it about 100 miles yesterday, I noticed an uncomfortable bucking and lurching, back and forth, back and forth. No so bad it tosses you around, but you and the passenger both definitely feel it. This happens when you lift your foot off the accelerator to coast or when you allow the engine to brake down a hill. The problem is particularly bad when the AC unit is on.
My dealer said the problem should go away as I drive it more and the engine breaks in. I think he was just trying to get me to go away.
So my question is, is this thing normal with a Subaru? It's uncomfortable - sort of like being in an erratic rocking chair or on a bucking mule. Do all Subarus do this to some extent? What is it I'm feeling? Any comments are appreciated. This is my first Subaru so I really don't have any other Subaru product to compare it to.
Uber Steve

Toronto, Canada

#8 Feb 15, 2008
Anthony

I had similar problems and the service team weren't able to recreate and fix this at first.

This service visit - success. I got a callback mid afternoon that Subaru has issued an ECU reflash for the "throttle surge" problem. They asked me to take the reflashed Forester for a long testdrive with my service tech riding shotgun.

I tried all of the techniques I new to get the Forester lurching:
I drove down a long slow gentle incline in 1'st at 1750 RPM, holding a constant speed - no lurching.
I drove a constant speed on a level surface between 1500 to 1750 RPM in 1'st and 2'nd - no lurching.
I tried light peddle fluctuations around 1500 to 1750 RPM - no lurching.

All good news.

The trade off is that there is more throttle dampening now. If you bring the engine to 1000 RPM in neutral, and lift off of the throttle, the RPMs drop more slowly. This will translate as less engine braking coming online when I lift off the throttle in real driving conditions, but I'm OK there.

The service tech was surprised by this, and did offer up that Subaru tends not to share that there is a problem while it is under investigation, only raising a solution when they have one.

Hope this helps you with your Forester.
Anthony Whiting wrote:
I also have the problem of bucking when I lift my foot off the accelerator to caoast in my Subaru Forester 4 cylinder shift car. Does anybody else have the same problem? What can be done about it? The Subaru dealership says the bucking is normal and nothing can be done about it. Really???!!!
<quoted text>
Gary

United States

#9 Apr 28, 2008
I just purchased a 08 forester, It does the same. I am contacting the dealer tomorrow. It also has a slight pull to the right all the time.
Gary

United States

#10 Apr 28, 2008
I just bought an 08 forester. It does the same bucking, at coast, in all gears (manual). Not great for a new car.
Glen in Massachusetts

Revere, MA

#11 May 18, 2008
My wife's 2001 Outback with the V-6 just started doing the bucking routine about a year ago, but the car had over 100,000 miles on it when the problem first appeared, so I guess I am lucky judging from the other comments. Bucking occurs around 40 MPH and 60 MPH when taking foot off accelerator. We have been to two different dealers with no resolution. Maybe I will try replacing the shifting sensor as John in Wisconsin has suggested. Worth a try.
Chris in Brookline MA

West Lebanon, NH

#12 Aug 4, 2008
Glen,

By the sound of it, I am having the same problem with our 2001 outback. I am currently dealing with MetroWest Subaru (we're on our 3rd drop-off). I would be interesting in discussing your experience!

Chris
Glen in Massachusetts wrote:
My wife's 2001 Outback with the V-6 just started doing the bucking routine about a year ago, but the car had over 100,000 miles on it when the problem first appeared, so I guess I am lucky judging from the other comments. Bucking occurs around 40 MPH and 60 MPH when taking foot off accelerator. We have been to two different dealers with no resolution. Maybe I will try replacing the shifting sensor as John in Wisconsin has suggested. Worth a try.
nutritionman

Berthoud, CO

#13 Aug 5, 2008
Uber Steve wrote:
Anthony
I had similar problems and the service team weren't able to recreate and fix this at first.
This service visit - success. I got a callback mid afternoon that Subaru has issued an ECU reflash for the "throttle surge" problem. They asked me to take the reflashed Forester for a long testdrive with my service tech riding shotgun.
I tried all of the techniques I new to get the Forester lurching:
I drove down a long slow gentle incline in 1'st at 1750 RPM, holding a constant speed - no lurching.
I drove a constant speed on a level surface between 1500 to 1750 RPM in 1'st and 2'nd - no lurching.
I tried light peddle fluctuations around 1500 to 1750 RPM - no lurching.
All good news.
The trade off is that there is more throttle dampening now. If you bring the engine to 1000 RPM in neutral, and lift off of the throttle, the RPMs drop more slowly. This will translate as less engine braking coming online when I lift off the throttle in real driving conditions, but I'm OK there.
The service tech was surprised by this, and did offer up that Subaru tends not to share that there is a problem while it is under investigation, only raising a solution when they have one.
Hope this helps you with your Forester.
<quoted text>
I have the same problem of engine surging on light throttle with a 2008 Outback and Subaru admits they have no fix. What year and model is the vehicle you got the reflash done on?
Uber Steve

Toronto, Canada

#14 Oct 1, 2008
Nutritionman

My Suburu is a 2007 Forester X with the N/A engine and a MT. The problem is still fixed and I've had months of happy motoring.
steve

Andover, MA

#15 Dec 2, 2010
I also have a 2002 outback, and have just started to get the bucking problem. However, when I start off in 3rd then once attaining a decent speed, I can shift to drive (D) and there is no bucking. My mechanic's computer said it was a bad spark plug,replacing them did not help, $100 bucks later I still have the same problem. I will go with flashing the sensor, that makes more since. You would think that Subaru would do this for free, it seems to be a large problem for many owners.
Christopher

Anaheim, CA

#16 May 14, 2013
We bought the year 2000 Outback with 146K on the odometer The engine is great and strong in our Outback but the bucking just started at 200K miles. Every attempt to rectify such as new plugs,new gas and air filter,Jiffy Lube de-carbonate,replace timing belt,clean inlets, new head gasket, top grade gasoline reset the computer has only a temporary effect.The car runs perfect for a while and then starts bucking again with my wife at the wheel.Sometimes the RPMS go up and own slightly for no reason .No mechanic has a solution. My wife says get a reliable car and get rid of this one.
Ginger

Westminster, CO

#17 May 27, 2013
I have a 99 Outback and had the engine replaced after 145K miles because of head gasket problems. Never had this problem before the engine was replaced, but sometimes after filling up with gas at Costco (prior to engine replacement) I would get a brief surge and then it would be fine. I just started experiencing the lurching/bucking problems with this new engine and it happens as I begin to accelerate or decelerate in city traffic. Have also got an oil leak under the engine but have no idea if that's related. Will take it back to the mechanic who replaced the engine tomorrow.
Judy

Parrish, FL

#18 Sep 15, 2013
Purchased a 2014 forrester two months ago. I'm still not use to it. I'm aware of every luch, bump and sound. Usually it takes me 25 minutes to get use to a car when I rent one so I feel I'm comfortable in any car I drive but this one is DIFFERENT. I feel a luching from zero to 40 MPH. My husband does not agree. Also, it sure doesn't like bumps....feel like I'm in a truck. Just got back from a "road trip" and feel the passenger seat was not very comfortable. Should have kept my Sonato.
John

Coburg, Australia

#19 Nov 26, 2013
Hello I have a 2005 outback 3.0, I bought it recently and I just realised that the car makes a little thud downshifting from 4th to 3rd. It kind of hangs for a few seconds and then thuds into third. All other gears are excellent shifting up and down. Any ideas
roy

Dedham, MA

#20 Apr 7, 2014
03 Forester, had car for 10 moths but last week got my 1st "bucking" by a car :)
Just replaced the O@ oxygen sensor but problem re-appears. Why is this not recallable?????

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