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Subaru Legacy/Outback Unusual Clunks and Noises



  • subypartssubyparts Posts: 1
    Yes you should take the vehicle back to the dealer and insist on having them change the driver side pistons. there was a bulletin out for knocking noise and it depends on your warranty that you have. it should be covered if you have a subaru gold plan!!
  • I've searched the archives, and come up with nothing, so here goes a new thread.

    Our fairly new(to us) 96 Brighton AWD Wagon w/136k on the odo has a ballsy rumble coming from under the vehicle. To me it sounds more pronounced in the back seat than the fdront, but I now how sound can travel from its origination point in a vehicle. It is pretty consistent both in town at low speeds and also on the highway. The noise seems to be vehicle speed-related and not engine speed-related, so I'm leaning towards drivetrain issues.

    Before I go in and replace wheel bearings, wheels/tires, Center Driveshaft bearing, axles, and tear into the rear differential, I was hoping this forum could help me isolate the cause a bit.

    My wife drives it more than I do, so her despription is what I'm using here. She says(and PO comfirms this) that the noise is more pronounced when making a sweeping right hand turn on the open road but turning back to the left, the noise is still there, but not as noisy. A simple right hand turn on a city street doesn't generate any more noise than a left hand turn and no clicking sound symptomatic of a CV joint going bad.

    The PO is a friend of ours and has stated that this noise has been with the vehicle for as long as they've owned it and it hasn't gotten any worse over the last 50k. Thee PO did some on- line research and found out that Subaru re-designed the 97 model drivetrain to get rid of this "problem".

    If any of you know what this is specificically and how to fix it, I'd be eternally grateful?

    New tires didn't solve the problem for the PO, so I'm sorta ruling that out.

    If I have to install a 97 or later rear Differential or drive train, will they interchange and how do I tell if I'm getting an"improved" model other than checking the VIN number on the car?


  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    I think it is probably the drive shaft bearing. It is not the bearing itself, but rather the rubber bushing around the bearing that causes this problem. My '96 Outback had it when I purchased it at 83K miles, but it only manifest itself when accelerating (increased torque) and sounded like a "thunking" under the car, in the rear (even though the bearing itself is mounted about at the mid-point of the cabin).

    Replacement of the front drive shaft (which included the bearing) with a junkyard special solved the problem and it never returned (put 140K additional miles on the car). New, I think the "part" was about $500, because for some moronic reason the bearing was not available without the front shaft. Basically, these are two separate parts, save for the bearing having a slightly dented bit of metal on it to affix it to the shaft. Once removed from the car, a heavy duty screwdriver will shift that metal "ding" and allow you to slip the bearing off the shaft. Finding a new bearing, though, might be tricky unless a shaft is attached. :sick:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Just by probability the most likely cause would be a wheel bearing. We've seen a lot of those fail, is all.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    I veered away from a wheel bearing due to the length of time the previous owner stated it was making noise. Still possible, I suppose - just seems less likely to me.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Our 626 had one fail. The noise was speed-dependent and got progressively worse. It did seem to deteriorate slowly, though.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    That is what I would expect from a wheel bearing. The drive shaft bearing noise is speed dependent as well, as it is basically flopping around in its rubber seat and does it faster as the shaft turns faster. But, I would also expect the noise to intensify under higher torque situations.

    To me, it almost sounded like someone thwacking the underside of the car with a rubber mallet.
  • Thanks, folks. I will put the screwdriver pry job on the U joints and see if they move before I go any further. I also don't feel that the center driveshaft bearing is the problem as we don't get the thunk thunk sound. it's somewhat of a relief to know that no one so far thinks it's the differential itself. I don't see any leaking old or new back there either.

    As an aside, the PO did tow a fair sized power boat with the car, so the rear wheel bearings could be over worked a bit. I'll update when there's something to update!!


  • I have the same problem with my 1999 Subaru Forester. The rumbling you describe started at around 80K miles. I had the wheel bearings checked out at that point but there was no problem there. The noise worsened significantly from 100K miles. Now, when driving off, the car emits a 'sneakers in the tumble dryer' noise from the rear. At speed, the rumbling is more pronounced when making sweeping turns to the right, as you describe. I even have the distinct feeling that the car pulls occasionally to the side, as if buffeted by a gust of wind, but that may just be my imagination.

    Have you got any further with your investigation? It would be useful to know what you have found out before I take mine to the mechanic.


  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Definitely sounds like a wheel bearing in your case Alex. I'd have it re-checked at a different dealer/shop.

  • rodin1rodin1 Posts: 2
    I have noticed a loud ticking or flapping (like the sound those old rubber-bladed fans that we grew up with used to make when you stuck something in the blades at slow speed!) in my 98 Impreza Outback. It's intermitten, of course, so mechanic never hears anything, has looked under the hood & not seen anything obvious. It comes & goes but when it comes, it is primarily upon slowing down as for a stoplight. Once stopped & idling, the noise idles down too & stops! It seems to be coming from the left side of the engine up close to the driver compartment.

    Any ideas,

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Does it stop as soon as you stop? In other words is it relative to your speed? or relative to engine speed?

    Motorsports and Modifications Host
  • rodin1rodin1 Posts: 2
    No, it doesn't stop as soon as I stop. As the engine speed slows, like in coming up to a stoplight, the noise slows. And when I am stopped at the light, for example, the noise slows down & stops. And it's not constant. A few days ago, I drove from town to home, making several stops along the way. It started on the first leg of my trip home, was silent for the next leg, started up again on the third leg, was silent on the last leg!
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Just to eliminate them as possibles, check the plastic covers in the engine bay, especially the timing belt cover, which extends across the whole front of the engine. It may be that one is rubbing a moving part intermittently. If so, and it is on the outside or under a lip of said cover, you should be able to notice - either by sight or touch - wear marks on a point where it comes close to a moving part.

    If it is a "dull" noise rather than a metallic ticking, then it is likely plastic.

    You might also check to see if there is something small and flexible wedged through the radiator and protruding into the space where the dual cooling fans spin. The fans might be sucking it in occasionally, while other times it flops down and sticks to the radiator.

    Just brainstorming here.... :D
  • cjtechcjtech Posts: 3
    I bought a Subaru Legacy 2008 2.5i several months ago and have questions about engine noise.

    When I turn the car off after driving, the engine continues to make a clicking sound for a while. It almost sounds like a faucet dripping (but there is no leak on the ground) or clicking sound which continues for a minute or two. Someone told me that this is the sound of the exhaust system cooling down. Is this true? I hear the same sound if I stop the car and put it in park but leave the engine on.... I don't hear it when just idling at a light (not in park).

    Also, when I do I a cold start of the engine, it is very loud at first. The noise goes down significantly as the car warms up. After fully warm, the car is very quiet. Just wondering whether is normal or not and what other people's experiences were with both types of engine noise.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    The clicking sounds are normal and tend to be louder when vehicles are new. It is just metal contracting as it cools. Sort of a slow, quiet symphony of *tink* *pop* *tink* *click* *click* *tink*. You hear the noises in park? Perhaps transmission components cooling, but yes, the majority of the sounds typically come from the exhaust and associated heat shielding once the engine is shut off.

    As for noise on start-up, what sort of noise is it and at what temperatures do you hear it?
  • cjtechcjtech Posts: 3
    Thanks for the information on the clicking sounds.

    The noise at start-up is not really an unusual sound... regular engine start-up sound but it is a lot louder than other cars I've had in the past... mostly Hondas. Once the car warms up, the engine sound is ok. Is this just typical of boxer engines?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    The boxer engine is a noisier engine in general, but it should not sound... harsh. In sub-zero temperatures, the engine on my 08 Outback only exhibits the extra start-up noise for 15-60 seconds, depending on temperatures. The most notable noises when it is extremely cold (about -20 and lower) are belt and accessory complaints. I do not really blame them. :D

    Some folks have reported PZEV engines running very rough upon cold start. I noticed on Subaru's website a few days ago that there is a TSB related to this, though I have not looked at it.
  • I have a torn boot on the driver side of my 93 Legacy. How do you replace it? I am new to Subaru, so this is a first time? Thanks.
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