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2010 to 2012 Subaru Outback Rear Sway Bar Modification

 
For some drivers, one of the complaints about the 2010 to current year Subaru Outback’s is that despite the rugged look it drives more like a butterfly floating through the air.

There are a few simple things that can be done to enhance the feel for the driver, one is just increasing the tire pressure to something closer to the Max PSI rating for the tire VS the ratings on the door, this needs to be done with care and caution.  Next despite your New Outback having new tires, there is always a better tire.

The suspension in the current era Subaru Outback is built much more for Comfort than the “Drivers Experience” this is really because there are many more options for Subaru now such as the Forester XT, WRX, STI and Legacy GT models with a more tuned to the road type of driving experience.

The most common thing we have done is a modification to the vehicles involving replacing the rear sway bar with a 19mm unit for a 2009 STI, this requires replacing the sway bar bushing to match the diameter of the 19mm sway bar and It’s not a bad idea to check the alignment as well.

It will stiffen the ride up quite a bit, correcting some of the higher speed sway and in my opinion enhancing the drivers experience and regaining a sense of control of the vehicle at all speeds.  I will point out that my wife liked the way it drove before and I do think that this speaks to a driver for every car and a car for every driver type statement.  You can modify just about any vehicle you own to reflect your tastes.

Modification VS warranty.

If you modify your Subaru your warranty is still valid with the exception of the component you replaced and any affected systems.  Meaning if you replace the rear sway bar with a larger diameter sway bar and a link pin breaks as a result that would not be a warrantable repair, however if you replace the rear sway bar and the check engine light comes on a month later from a failed 02 sensor your still covered provided the car is in fact still under warranty in terms of mileage and time.   I want to again be clear there is no such thing as a voided warranty only deniable of a warranty claim in the event that an aftermarket component caused the failure or there is clear indisputable evidence of driver abuse.

Below find some pictures of the rear sway bar modification in progress.  We also added a set of White line Adjustable end links later on to see if there was a difference, while I did seem to notice an improvement with the Whiteline end links I didn’t care for how they fit and they were technically for a 2009 STI, look for a follow up article later on that modification in the future

2012 Outback sway bar

2012 Outback sway bar

As you ca see there is a pretty big difference in size of the sway bar from the 2010 up Outback VS the STI.

Subaru Outback Sway Bar Upgrade

Subaru Outback Sway Bar Upgrade

2010 to 2010 Subaru Outback sway bar end link

2010 to 2010 Subaru Outback sway bar end link

2012 Subaru Outback Sway Bar Modification

2012 Subaru Outback Sway Bar Modification

Subaru Outback Sway bar and End links

Subaru Outback Sway bar and End links

White line Adjustable end link Kit

White line Adjustable end link Kit

We have tried the car as I mentioned with both the Factory Links and White line Adjustable links.  Ill post an update when I have put some miles on the configuration as we now have  it.

Thanks For Reasding

Justin

Helping you, get more out of your Subaru!

 

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41 Responses to 2010 to 2012 Subaru Outback Rear Sway Bar Modification

  1. Matt January 14, 2012 at 3:51 am #

    Did you by chance use the sway bar braces?

    • Justin Stobb January 17, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

      No Just the New Bar, Bushings and Different Link pins for a while.

      Justin

      • Mark December 25, 2012 at 3:04 am #

        I have reading alot and after talking to several like rallitek etc they pointed out that not using a brace on each side after upgrading to a 19mm rear bar that the mounting point is weak/thin steel and will eventually bend or worse break. I have been concered after deciding to upgrade but Avo is/seems to be the only one that makes the brace and not wanting to take the chance of damage without them. Avo dealers are all out till seems jan or feb.
        Is there other options besides Avo, I know Cobb makes one but is out too from what I have have heard.

  2. Jim Martin March 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

    Any update on the rear sway bar fix? I’m having the same ‘Floating Outback’ feeling on my 2011 3.6 at speeds over 40 m.p.h.. It’s the biggest complaint I have with this car.

    • Justin Stobb March 6, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

      Hi Jim,

      I am happy with the set up right now which is the factory sway bar and bushings for a 2009 STI. Its a little stiff when traveling over bumps but it also much firmer at freeway speeds which is what I wanted.

      Justin

    • tom dennen April 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

      Hi Justin, The highway sway with my 2012 OB is so un-nerving I’m asking Subaru to take back the car. My argument..it’s not safe. There’s much evidence that others complain about the same thing. I’ve owned ’99 and ’05 outbacks; neither have this sway. Not looking for the same ride as the earlier OB but it needs to drive straight. The car caon’t be going in a direction I didn’t point it. Has the STI sway bar been tested and shown to elimate most of the sway? What do u mean by stiff? The ride gets more bumpy or there’s less roll. I have a Miata and know what is a stiff ride. The bumps are harder but the ride is smooth on smooth road.

      • Justin Stobb April 12, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

        Hi Tom,

        I am sorry to hear that.

        If your Outback has the Continental tires I would let them switch the Continental Tires out to the Bridgestone before making any Rash decions that will cost you a lot of money. You typically wont be made whole on a Buy back.

        I dont have anything in our 2012, nor have I experienced anything in the hundreds of 2010 to current Outbacks I have driven that scares me.

        As far as stiffness, when you go over any type of bump its more noticeable with the STI Sway bar, the body roll is less in corners and freeway speeds which is what I wanted plus I will tow a small trailer wit Kayaks and the rear sway bar will help greatly with that.

        To the proven thing, I have not driven your car before and after to know if you would be happy with the results, but do want to tell you that while a few dont like the way the new Outback drives they have sold thousands and thousands of these cars and dont have a wide spread problem but do have complaints. Its difficult to reconcile all of that and think your situation can be resolved with out a lot of issue.

        Justin

        • tom dennen April 27, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

          Hello Justin. Subaru swapped the Contininental tires for Bridgetone Torenza bl42. When inflated to the proper pressure they seem to ride a little better than before. Its still not as good as I expect but not as bad as before. A Subaru technician from the factor came to look at the car and found nothing wrong. I
          would expect them to find minor problems. Not too happy with the final outcome.

          • Justin Stobb April 28, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

            Hi Tom,

            Did they look at the alignment angles, and when you say proper pressure did they tell you what they inflated them too? My 2012 runs the continental tires, the alignment was a little off from the factory so I corrected it, and inflated my tires to 38 PSI day one for improved fuel economy mostly.

            Justin

        • Steve Hinkle July 11, 2013 at 2:37 am #

          True Subaru has sold 1000s of the cars to people that never owned the older models…..
          So they don’t have anything to compare it to and don’t know what they are missing. I have a 1998 Outback with 200,000 miles on it with original suspension. It is way tighter on corners and does not “float” and display bodyroll. Just had the 19 mm sway bar installed on my 2011 Outback today..And it was the 1st day I drove the car at highway speeds with only 1 hand on the wheel and felt safe.

          • Justin Stobb July 15, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

            The 1999 had true McPherson strut suspension front and rear. While the 1995 to 1999 Legacy and Outbacks were fine cars, there have been so many improvements to other aspects of the car to suit the majority of the buyers.

            Whats great is having a car like a Subaru where you can actually take a STI sway bar and have it fit, good luck buying another brand and coming up with a remedy if it doesn’t drive to your liking.

            Justin

  3. billy June 11, 2012 at 3:00 am #

    Hello, I am looking for an Rear sway bar upgrade for an Subaru Outback 2011 (2.5L), including new endlinks. Do you sell those? I could not find them under your part selection. Thank You!

    • Justin Stobb June 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm #

      Due to the shipping costs we have not offered that for sale at this time.

      Thanks

      Justin

  4. Tom D September 14, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    Hi Justin

    Still not happy with the 2012 OB. My 2005 OB drives fantastic. When I go back to the 2013 I am reminded of how bad it drives. The bridgestones were minor improvement …what can I do to get it to drive straight like my ’05?? I dont expect it to maneuver like the ’05, just don’t want to have to constantly keep correcting to get to go straight. Do you have customers who found the 19 mm sway bar helpful in stopping the lane wandering. Would a higher brand tire help (Michelin )?

    • Justin Stobb September 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

      Hi Tom,

      I am sorry to hear that. Have you driven other like vehicles to see if its just yours or does everyone not meEt your expectation. The reason I ask is I really know these vehicles well, I have turned several friends on to them as well as own a 2012 which I currently drive. My wife drives a 2005 Outback XT and she really prefers the 2012, from day one before I tweaked the suspension to my liking.

      A good friend of mine doesn’t not like the way their 2011 Outback drives, but his Wife loves it. He drives a Toyota Tundra as a daily driver.

      Another Customer did not care for how the 2011 Outback drove, but yet again his wife liked the soft feeling we changed sway bars, links and struts, he is happy but now his Wife is less happy.

      I installed the sway bar on my Outback because at freeway speeds(mostly passing on a 2 lane highway) I did not like the body roll, I know that Subaru wouldn’t build a unstable vehicle, I just didn’t care for the lack of feedback from the road so I enhanced it for my driving style.

      I guess what I am saying is that If Subaru or another shop is unable to pinpoint an actual issue, its possible the car may never drive to your satisfaction, I have driven so many cars through the years I know this to be plausible, most recently I drove 4 different rentals cars after being involved in an accident. I came away from some of those cars with a “who would ever buy it” type of mind frame. I you have driven the same car and it feels ok, and yours does not, you need to keep at Subaru until you are satisfied.

      Justin

      • tom dennen September 27, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

        I found a local Goodyear Store whose owner has a 2012 Subaru OB. They offer a 30 day return policy on all new tires, (will check the fine print.) As their focus is tires and alignments I am considering having them check the alignment and trying the Goodyear Comfortred H speed rated tires. Any advice if this will improve the handling of the car. Several owner postings have indicated switching to Michelin Defenders of Goodyear Tripletred or Comfortred resolved their problems.

        • Justin Stobb September 28, 2012 at 2:10 am #

          Hi Tom,

          I cant specifically comment on either tire on the Outback, as I have not tried that combination.

          I would be interested to know the PSI and Load rating of the tire, as well as the Alignment angles though.

          Justin

        • Buck December 3, 2013 at 3:56 am #

          Tom,
          I have a 2010 OB and its great. This first mod I made was upgrading to a stiff sidewall tire and riding with them at max psi and I drive the crap out of mine. The other day I drifted it around clover on dry road with traction control off and it didnt flip. Other than tires mine is stock. Therefore, if a good set of stiff walled tires doesnt fix your problem find another car because you’re never gonna be happy with it.

          • Justin Stobb December 3, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

            Thats great advice Buck!

  5. Dave September 30, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

    Quit your crying. If you are really not happy with your Outback, just get rid of it.

    2012 Outback Owner

    • Tom D March 20, 2013 at 1:58 am #

      If you do not have anything constructive to offer, not interested in listening to off the cuff remarks.

  6. Lilly Avery November 19, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

    Hi, I have a 2011 OB and have had great luck with it. However it needed new tires so I just had 4 Goodyear Nordic snow tires put on with an alignment done at the dealer. We drove the car to Maine upon picking it up and it felt funny which my husband noticed as well. I have put 1000 miles on the new tires thinking I need to get used to the beefy grippy tires on it. It feels like a weight has fallen off, a funny wobble, even on new pavement and slower speeds. I did take it back to the dealer and they checked it and said it was perfect a .o5 change, but all was good. I still feel it and so does my husband I miss the old tires that came on it but they would have not held up for the winter roads. Any ideas, would tire preassure be the next thing to look at? Thank you!

    • Justin Stobb November 20, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

      Hi Lilly,

      The tire pressure could be an issue, but not knowing where they are at now, and the range of the tires installed I cant completely answer that question.

      Yes it is apparent that the 2010 to current Outback is very sensitive to the type of tire installed on it, if you have a car that does not derive as well as it did with a different set of tires you should bring this to the tire stores attention and maybe move into a different set if changing the tire pressure doesn’t seem to help..

      I hope that helps and I wish you the best of luck going forward, if you find a tire that seems to feel better please re-post so the next 2010 and newer Subaru Outback owner has that information.

      Justin

  7. Sam March 26, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    My 2012 Outback 2.5 had a defective front strut cartridge at 17K miles. Handling was awful until it was fixed. Now it is mediocre. In my correspondence with SOA I was told the 2013 model is a lot stiffer in the front but that the axle carrier is different from ’12 so there is no way to upgrade to ’13 damping.

    I am not inclined to do anything to the rear until the front is resolved. Nobody I can find offers a front strut cartridge to mimic ’13 in a ’12 model. I also think the rear gets a lot of its stiffness from the friction and mass of all those bushings and links. The coil-overs look miniaturized compared to a strut assembly. Smaller diameter springs look out of place.

    I drove a ’13 model Outback while they r/r’d my bad strut.

    Engineers’ fumbling with spring and damper rates could be explained this way. Rear struts, and struts in general afford low friction. Multi-link designs are rare on long travel suspensions. Rebound and compression do not happen the same way.

    The car is such a major downgrade in handling from my all strut 2001 Forester (ride comfort is similar between the cars). ’12 Outback rear end can’t keep the tire pinned to the pavement over very low-speed shopping center speed bumps. Tire slaps turning heads. Forester stepped over the same bumps noiselessly.

    ’12 Outback gets better over bigger bumps at higher speeds. A load helps also. But these conditions accentuate the too soft front, prone to bottoming-out even with good struts. Old Forester had to be brutalized to bottom-out. No comparison.

    Multi-link rear ends, developed for nose-heavy RWD german cars, is a step backward on AWD cars where the risk of the car breaking away in the rear on a high speed sweeper when you open the throttle is almost minimal compared to a silly german RWD car. Big dollar RWD sedans were famous for deflected camber on compression that robbed the car of traction.

    I realize interior strut towers take-up space in the load bay but the complexity and ineffectiveness of multi-link is not a fair trade. It feels like a rigid axle.

    Still I buy Subaru because I love boxer engines. CVT is masterfully executed.

  8. Terry Murphy May 10, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    You know have read and read all of the posts about the New OB’s and I guess I would consider myself blessed. Having a 2010 OB Premium 2.5i have never had the wobble/bouncing problem. Convinced it is the alignment and how it is accomplished. I was surprised to see all of weights on the inside of the rim, where I have the balancing done they put weights on the inside of the rim and the outer rim on the inside of the tire.

    Have 44,000 miles on the car and have only run Continentals on the car, that includes winter tires as well made by Continental and I run 40 psi in them all, all the time. Ride is great did a 6,000 mile road trip and had a blast. Yes, the wind while driving North to South thru Wyoming would grab the car but after driving a full size pickup not that bad. Have just received the 19mm sway bar and will put it on. Wife and I are getting ready to do another cross country with a roof car carrier.

    I have no complaints, this past Easter returning from the UP of Michigan on one of our Nations Turn Pikes, I was passing a semi at 0430 in the morning, the semi thru a retread, the entire thing, it chased me across three lanes but alas I hit doing 75mph. The car handled outstandingly never gave a whimper, lost the front bumper and inner and outer wheel well on the drivers side and never missed a beat. We stopped and continued home. Great Car.

    • Justin Stobb May 13, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your experience!

      Justin

  9. dave December 2, 2013 at 12:27 am #

    Justin, in one of your posts you stated “We have tried the car as I mentioned with both the Factory Links and White line Adjustable links. Ill post an update when I have put some miles on the configuration as we now have it.”

    Wondering if the whiteline’s are worth it? Or do you know of any other links that will work with the 19 mm sway bar? I don’t see anywhere I’ve researched that people are also updating the links, only the sway bar?

    I’m getting ready to install a 19mm sway bar and would like to do both at the same time.

    • Justin Stobb December 2, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

      Hello Dave,

      The White line links are bit of a bear to set up as they are adjustable and I saw no performance enhancement but did have a little noise, I am currently running factory Links, no issues so far, was worried they could bend with the increased load of the larger sway bar but so far so good and I have been off road plenty.

      -Justin

  10. Curtis December 14, 2013 at 1:52 am #

    Hi Justin:

    Do you know if the 2009 STI rear swaybar and bushings will fit my 2014 Outback? I love the car but living in the mountains and driving the twistes dail, I’d like to firm up and reduce body roll. Also, I seem to recall that stiffening a rear swaybar will tend to induce oversteer. True, in your experience?

    -Curtis

    • Justin Stobb December 19, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

      Hello Curtis,

      Should fit just fine, I have the 2012 and that’s what I installed in mine.

      The rear sway bar can improve under steer, but I never really noticed a problem prior, I did mine to stiffen the ride and improve out of the corner situations.

      -Justin

  11. Greg Jones January 12, 2014 at 3:03 am #

    Tom D,
    I have a 2006 OB XT, it had well used continental tires on it when I bought it used 3 years ago. It drove Great till about 80km, then got a “speed wobble” and had me white knuckling it at two and ten if I went our 100km rated highway speeds. I went to a local good year store after some research and mechanic inspections, and got a pair of Good year Assurance, touring. it made little difference, so they swapped them out for the Comfort Touring tires run at 37 psi… Absolutely no issue since!
    Side note. I use a premium Toyo winter tire, and they don’t seem to have the same speed wobble issues either. though, I don’t drive the same speeds on snow to prove my theory correct.

  12. Greg Jones January 20, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    Hi Justin,

    I can’t tell you how much I have learned from just reading your blogs here. Your very informative, and helpful, and I’d like to thank you.

    I’m wondering if there is a quick swap/upgrade to the sway bar on my 06 OB XT? I’m happy with how it drives, but would very much like a more stiff ride if possible.

    thanks Justin.

    Greg Jones.

    • Justin Stobb January 22, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

      Hello Greg,

      I put the White Line adjustable sway bars on our 2005 and liked it.

      Sometimes they can be difficult to locate as White line does things in batches and there can be a lag between the parts selling out and being produced.

      -Justin

  13. Derrick April 13, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    Hi Justin, I am a first time subie owner. I bought my 2012 outback 2.5 last june. Since then it has been in to 2 different dealerships multiple times for the mentioned handling issues here and on the outback forum website. The mechanics claim theres nothing wrong with the car. I have been complaining to SOA for months now as well. They keep telling me to take it back to the shop for another look. Yesterday I experienced a day from hell when i had to drive from Milwaukee to St Louis with 20-30 mph head/cross winds. I have never had such a bad driving experience as I had yesterday. My car was all over my lane for 400 miles. Tomorrow I will be working my way up the ladder with SOA before I get rid of this car. There is no reason a car should handle as dangerously as mine does at speeds above 50mph. The limit in Illinois is 70 which i was unable to maintain.
    I ordered the 19mm rsb from the dealership last week but the bushings did not arrive before my trip. Without telling SOA that i did this SOA told the dealership if I paid for the rsb SOA would reimburse me. I received an email confirming the check was requested. I cant help but think that Subaru knows theres a problem but wont admit it.

    • Justin Stobb April 14, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

      Derrick,

      Most Current platform Subaru Outbacks don’t have any issues, I am well aware of a few that seem to handle poorly at higher speeds, most were the 2010/2011 models.

      Some have been improved from a larger sway bar, some from better tires, some where just a simple alignment and tire pressure setting adjustment. A few have gone unresolved as you have read about. But most have been resolved when the driver took matters into their own hand to make it drive to their liking.

      -Justin

  14. bob shelton May 10, 2014 at 1:30 am #

    where can i buy the 19mm sway bar and bushing

  15. bob shelton May 10, 2014 at 1:34 am #

    where can i buy 19mm sway bar and bushings

  16. Embry Rucker July 7, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    Bought a 19mmsway bar without measuring one on my 2011 outback & . So found mine was already 19mm. Measure first any other suggestions on stabilizing at hi way speeds?

    • Justin Stobb July 8, 2014 at 5:08 am #

      Has anyone looked at the quality of the tires and the alignment readings?

      -Justin

  17. Dave Sion August 30, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    Try Kart Boy 2008+ rear end links , they improve the action of the sway bar and are significantly stronger also you can upgrade to a maximum 22″ sway bar — the 2008 impreza sti rear sway bar from Perrin fits. How ever this is much stiffer.
    For the front end there is an adjustable end link available –slightly stiffer but I couldn’t find any stiffer sway bar to fit the front.