Are you a current or recent car shopper who bought an EV and then installed solar – or who had solar already, making the decision to go electric easier?
Are you a recent EV buyer (past 3 months) as a result of manufacturer incentives and dealer discounts on these vehicles, including year-end deals? Were you convinced to buy an EV after finding a good end-of-year deal, or due to uncertainty around which EVs will no longer qualify for full/partial EV tax credits in 2024? A national business reporter is interested in speaking with you. Please reach out to [email protected] by 12/15 if interested in sharing your story.

2010 Forester XT "Clunk"

pger_98pger_98 Member Posts: 9
edited October 2014 in Subaru
I just bought an 2010 XT in January. I have about 1500 miles on her.

Lately, when I start in the morning and drive....and I give her normal gassing, i hear a "clunk" type noise coming from the front. Dealership cannot find it no matter how I explain. It also did it when i was backing out at a slope.

I am very frustrated.....

Has anyone had this issue?


  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Not that I've heard.

    Does it feel like the transmission is engaging? Do you hear it, or also feel it?

    Does it happen while you are already moving, or just when you start to move?

    Forward and reverse?

    Steering wheel straight or turned?

    Sorry for all the questions, just trying to narrow it down a bit.
  • pger_98pger_98 Member Posts: 9
    Other than that noise, everything is fine. Transmission engages fine. I do not feel anything. It only happens when I start out, and only if the car has set more than a couple of hours. So far it is forward, however my husband and I tried using the e-brake on a downward slope and it did it in reverse. After that, we could not replicate in reverse. Steering has been both...I have to try that out.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Now I'm thinking it's a sticky brake caliper. It pops loose and could be the cause of that clunk.

    Some surface rust is normal, and at times the brake pads will stick to them. The clunk is what you hear when it breaks loose.

    Could also be the parking brake.

    At the next oil change, I would bring it up to your dealer, have them inspect the brakes and lubricate the calipers with high-temp stuff.
  • pger_98pger_98 Member Posts: 9
    Now that you say that, it makes sense. They said they checked everything to make sure it was ok just to be sure, however I am for sure going to mention this.

    You said it could be the parking brake, how so?
  • pger_98pger_98 Member Posts: 9
    Now that you say that, it makes sense. They said they checked everything to make sure it was ok just to be sure, however I am for sure going to mention this.

    You said it could be the parking brake, how so?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    If the parking brake is sticky and won't release, the same thing could happen.

    I'd have them clean the brake parts and make sure the moving parts have heat-resistant lubricant so they continue to move freely.

    I had to rebuild a rear caliper on my 93 Miata because it was sticking like that. The rebuilt caliper solved the problem.

    Yours is new so it's more likely to just need lubrication.
  • billwvbillwv Member Posts: 48
    Just in case you are not aware--

    The ABS/VDC system goes through a self-test when you first start up and drive off. It involves, among other things, a grabbing of a brake which can sound as you describe--sometimes more noticeable than others. This is completely normal.

    Could this be what you are experiencing?

  • aathertonaatherton Member Posts: 617
    This normal ABS self-test has been reported as a complaint on another Forester forum, too. I do not notice it on my 2008 Forester, but can plainly hear it on my 2006 Scion xB.
    Others have complained about their Forester engine "knocking" after being shut off. That turned out to be the ticking of cooling heat shields.
  • pger_98pger_98 Member Posts: 9
    Thank you all for your response. I am going to get her in again. It is very disruptive to my schedule when I hear the noise each day and they have it for two days and do not hear it. I am going to make these suggestions as well so they check something. I swore my 2006 S40 AWD did the same thing....however I cannot remember. It only did it once in awhile, as this is daily. It is fine after that.

    More to come!
  • bcj77bcj77 Member Posts: 6

    Did you ever discover the cause of this clunk or knock? I have a 2011 XT with 2k miles on it that has been making the same noise, typically only when the engine is cold. Any feedback you can share would be appreciated.

  • pger_98pger_98 Member Posts: 9
    I had taken it to the dealership a few times. I have been told it is the AWD system "checking". It only does it initally when i drive off and it is cold.
  • bcj77bcj77 Member Posts: 6
    Hmm, thanks. Sounds a little suspicious, but I hope they are right.
  • aathertonaatherton Member Posts: 617
    You said: I have been told it is the AWD system "checking".

    I think you misunderstood the dealer. The AWD system does not check itself. However, the ABS systems on all cars do check and reset themselves upon restarting and moving. And on some cars under some conditions, this reset can be heard.
  • pger_98pger_98 Member Posts: 9
    They had mentioned the ABS also. When I took it to another dealer they said ABS. I did not mention that-apologies.
  • bcj77bcj77 Member Posts: 6
    I took mine in today for this same issue. Dealer says it is a normal sound that the secondary air injector makes when it is cold, standard on turbos.

    My guess is that they were not able to replicate (or hear) the sound...
  • maybesubie1maybesubie1 Member Posts: 30
    I have something similar happening, but not on a turbo. 2011 normally aspirated Forester that I have only had about two months. Shortly after a cold start, usually around 15-40 yards after putting it in drive, there is a clearly audible noise. Not loud, but noticeable. To me, it sounds like a lightweight sheetmetal flap closing against something else metal. One clank and that's it until the next cold start. Can't feel it in the steering or transmission. VDC-check of some kind seems plausible, but I'd like to know for sure.
  • aathertonaatherton Member Posts: 617
    Just google "ABS self test noise" and you will see that all cars do it, you just can't always hear it.

    "Are you sure you're not just hearing the ABS self-test? That makes a bit of a clunk, I believe. I've noticed it in every Subaru I've driven."

    #11 in

    "I think I've come up with a way to prevent that awful ABS Self-test brake noise to occur. Right after starting the car, press the brake pedal down a few times before putting the car into gear. I've been doing that for the past few days and haven't heard that sound since!"
  • aathertonaatherton Member Posts: 617
    Page 7-16 of my 2008 Forester Owners Manual:
    "ABS system self-check.
    You may feel a slight shock in the brake
    pedal and hear the operating sound of
    ABS from the engine compartment just
    after the vehicle is started. This is caused
    by an automatic functional test of the ABS
    system being carried out and does not
    indicate any abnormal condition."
  • aathertonaatherton Member Posts: 617
    edited February 2011
    "... VDC-check of some kind seems plausible..."
    VDC is traction control that senses vehicle direction and uses brake, throttle and engine management to help maintain stability. I don't think Subaru has such a thing a self-checking VDC. Some Subarus have VDC, although not my 2008 X with the 4EAT automatic. VDC is a completely transparent feature as it is not even mentioned in the Owners Manual, much less any self-checking of it.
  • maybesubie1maybesubie1 Member Posts: 30
    2011 Owner Manual has similar language now that I look. So ABS seems likely, even though I haven't noticed anything in the brake. Thanks.
  • bcj77bcj77 Member Posts: 6
    This does sound encouraging, but I'm still a little skeptical. Mine is often fairly loud and it really sounds like something is stuck and then releases, making the "clunk" sound.
  • mariner9mariner9 Member Posts: 3
    I have a new 2011 Forester XT with only 1800 miles on it that has made this noise since I bought it. After starting it any time, not just first thing in the morning, and within moving 50 yards or so there is a very noticeable clunk. I told the dealer at the 30 day check and at first they were surprised. Then they said all Foresters do this. So i asked to drive a new on on the lot to confirm that. It didn't make the noise. Now it may be that it's a benign issue in terms of being a mechanical problem. But it is nonetheless a problem that Subaru needs to fix. I have had lots of cars with ABS. This is the first that has made this noise. Is there a fix that anyone has heard of? This seemingly is a mechanical/electrical engineering problem and that's what engineers do. I think.

    I'm thinking of asking the dealer to replace my car with one that doesn't make the noise. After all I'll probably drive this car for years and the prospect of hearing this noise 1000+ times a year is not a good thing.

  • bcj77bcj77 Member Posts: 6
    I have a 2011 XT as well, making the same noise at the same time. Just had my first service and had them check it again. They initially said they didn't hear it, so I had the service guy get in the car with me when I was picking it up. He heard it and agreed that it did not sound right. He said he had never heard that noise before and would look into it. Just spoke with them again and they are still saying it is the secondary air pump and that all Turbos make that noise. When I told him it doesn't sound like air, but metal, he said he would look into it and get back to me...
  • soulersurfersoulersurfer Member Posts: 1
    edited May 2011
    I bought a 2011 Forester Limited (not turbo) and it has the same problem. The car now has ~1500 miles, but has made the clunk noise ever since we bought it. The first few times, I ignored it thinking i ran over a plastic bottle or aluminum can. But after a few times, i started to realize it wasn't just my imagination. Of course the dealer says they have never heard of this problem before. The way i describe it is, it happens when the engine is cold. Even if it's been sitting in the sun all day, when you turn on the car, let the engine idle until the blue light turns off indicating the engine is warm, and then slowly drive away. At about 10 miles an hour, you hear the one-time clunk or thunk noise. You can feel it in the passenger and driver floor board, so it is pretty loud. This doesn't happen while turning, it only happens once. Living in San Diego, I rarely use the AC. Since it's not on, i wouldn't expect it to be an AC compressor. Also, i don't use the parking break, so i don't think the breaks would be sticking. Any suggestions? What's the policy for asking the dealer to give you a forester in exchange for one that doesn't make this noise?
  • bcj77bcj77 Member Posts: 6
    I finally got the service manager to look into mine and he came back with the conclusion that it is the ABS self-test. It still seems odd to me that not all cars make the noise if that is actually what it is, so I'm skeptical, but the car runs fine otherwise.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    FWIW I've heard about that before, so I think he could be right...
  • al0324al0324 Member Posts: 1
    just wanted to chime in that i bought a 2011 forester nonturbo. it also makes this noise in the exact description you have made. Appears when i start the engine, and go less than 50 yrds. Maybe 20 feet who knows. after that its hunky dory. it sounds like you run something over.

    i guess its normal.
  • billwvbillwv Member Posts: 48
    edited June 2011
    It is the ABS self test which test the ABS system after start up when you reach about 9 miles per hr speed. In my 2009 manual this is described in section 7 page 23 entitled ABS system self check.

    Enjoy your new Subaru.

This discussion has been closed.