2006 Subaru WRX

Shakes or Wobbles problem
2006 Subaru WRX All Wheel Drive Manual 99,600 miles

when car is downshifted and speed decreases to around 30-25mph, a strong vibration takes place in the front area of the (L) dash. Not like a vibration in the dash itself but a sort of monotone noise that sounds like a vibration from some mechanical part. Doesn't really sound like it is coming from the (L) front wheel area. It doesn't do this everytime, only intermittantly. Took it to subaru repair but of course, it wouldn't make the noise when the service tech was in the car. Notice it especially when car is going downhill and is downshifted to slow car down with engine. Not when using brakes. Any ideas?
March 23, 2010.

This is not a normal condition that can be repeated when the car is standing still with the hood open. Look at things with the thought in mind of where things will shift position to when you downshift. In particular, look at exhaust pipe hangers and engine mounts. Hangers always have rubber isolators. If two metal parts rub together, they will transmit vibration into the passenger compartment.

Same thing for engine mounts. One telltale sign of an off-center / rubbing mount is if you see shiny spots on the metal brackets where the paint or rust has worn off.


Mar 23, 2010.
Good suggestions but I don't think that is our answer. It's not a rubbing noise/vibration but more of a " whoop" " whoop" kind of thing. Almost like having a flat tire noise but of course, no flat tire. Someone said the sound was like in older cars when a speedometer cable was going bad but of course, no speedometer cable here according to Subaru Service people.

Mar 25, 2010.
When it's a noise that only occurs when the car is moving, you'll have to listen outsde while running alongside the car! OR, ... A much better idea is to use a tool called a " chassis ear". This is a set of six microphones that are clipped to various suspect parts under the car, then you switch between them while driving and listening with headphones.

When the noise occurs, you identify the loudest microphone, then move them around until you find the source of the noise. This is especially useful for clunks and rattles, but it works with almost any sound that you can hear.

This tool comes in two versions. The older style has six microphones with wires that must be carefully strung through a window or door and you have to be careful to route the wires away from tires and other moving or hot parts. The newer version has four wireless microphones and two still with wires. Many mechanics have never heard of this tool. Some shops have them. Some mechanics have their own.

Chrysler dealers have this tool. They also have one available that detects vibration. The souce of vibration is determined by comparing the frequency of the vibration to vehicle speed. Other dealers might have this tool too, although most dealership merchanics are experienced in finding these types of problems without special equipment.

Based on your followup descriptions, I would still be looking at engine mounts. There are two things that could happen when under reverse load, (down shifting). The engine could shift position slightly and cause the rollers in the inner cv joints to run in different locations in the housings. Worn spots can develop on the roller surfaces that cause the rollers to bind when the shaft is changing length or angle. More commonly that is felt in the steering wheel when turning sharply and accelerating normally from low speeds, but it depends on a number of conditions. The binding rollers could cause the engine to be pushed back and forth sideways once or three times per tire revolution. This is a very low speed pulsation that will not make an audible sound, but you could be hearing the RESULTS of the engine moving. That could be a pulley rubbing on a plastic splash shield, an exhaust pipe hanger touching metal on metal, or any other source where two pieces come in contact with each other to transmit sound.

A simlar condition can exist when the engine rocks forward and backward. Most font-wheel-drive engines with manual transmissions have a damper to limit the amount of engine movement caused by the constant on / off rocking during shifting. If that damper is worn or broken, the engine will oscillate back and forth. Besides the obvious parts touching each other, a gap could open up in the flexible exhaust pipe coupler, or a loose part in the air intake system could open a gap that prevents the system from muffling the turbulence of the incoming air.

The chassis ear does not work well for these kinds of noises that must be " heard". The microphones work best when the noise is transmitted through a part the microphone can be physically attached to.


Mar 25, 2010.