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Subaru Legacy/Outback Unusual Clunks and Noises

shanelegacyshanelegacy Posts: 6
edited March 2014 in Subaru
Hello All.
Have a quick question about a 95' Legacy L wagon with FWD. I bought the car in 2004 with 154,00 miles on it. It's been a good car so far. My only problem has been this strange continuing noise up front on the driver side. I was told it was the front driver side axle. So I had it replaced in 2004. then again 2005. I am starting to think it is something else. I don't travel up hills much, as I know this is hard on those front axles. The noise develops arond 35 Mph very softly, kinda sounds like a blrrrrrr, then changes in sound with engine rpm's. It can only be heard on the driver side. The sound will return around 50mph when the rpm's drop, this is when it becomes quite loud with a blrr poppy sound kind a. At 70mph it really sings. once over 80mph it goes away. the sound is only heard mainly at o to 35 mph then slowly you hear it again at higher speeds. when you let of the pedal it makes a reveresed blrrrrr sound. I recently had it in the shop for a check and no one found anything wrong, even during test drives the mechanic never hears it. only one time did they hear it when I pointed it out. the axle was replaced, but the sound came back almost right away coming of the lot. any ideas ?


  • My 02 Legacy wagon was noisy from new. Bad piston slap out of the box so to speak. 27000 kilometres & Lots of whining at the dealer and they finally put in a new short block. I saw inside of motor and beleive me it is DESTRUCTIVE. New motor now has almost the same k's and rattling again. Now out of warranty. I can live with the noise but expect to put another engine in soon. Anyone know of any supplier of better or long skirted pistons to fix the problem for good???
  • I,too, owned a 2002 Subaru Outback wagon purchased new in 2002 that developed the piston slap after about a year. It got so bad that when the engine was cold it would be so loud the neighbors would come out of their houses wondering what all the noise was about! Very embarrassing! The noise would almost go away, once the engine warmed up, but never completely went away. The dealer absolutely would not do anything about it no matter how much I whined and complained. At least you got some satisfaction with a new short block even though temporary. I finally traded the car off for a new 2007 Outback hoping upon hope that this one doesn't develop the noise..With less than 1000 miles on it the engine is very quiet so here's hoping.
  • i just replaced the heads on my legacy gt 2.5 lt sedan and the water pump and timing belt and thermostat and the tempiture gauge is not moving but it shoots water into the overflow bottol. what can i do to fix this :sick:
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,078
    :surprise: Too many and's! So, by "shooting" you are saying that more than the normal amount of coolant is being pushed into the overflow? It sounds to me like either your temperature sending unit is not connected or it was damaged during the overhaul and needs to be replaced. Start there, then determine how the coolant temperature is behaving. Just to make sure... was the thermostat installed properly? A moment of carelessness and it could be installed backward quite easily.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • My 2000 Subaru Outback Ltd with almost 80,000 miles is developing a knocking noise in the engine. I have 6 months left on the extended warranty. The dealer says it is a piston slap which is typical of the Boxer Engine and not to worry. Is this typical of this engine type and is there something I should do (or can do) with the warranty?

    Appreciate any comments/assistance.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Have the issue documented. If it isn't already, call 800-SUBARU3 and ask them to enter a "customer says" ticket. Ask for the problem # so you can track it.

    Then, if it gets worse after the warranty expires, you can say you pointed it out before it expired.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I want to say wheel bearings, but the fact that the noise is tied to engine speed throws me off a bit. :confuse:

    The bearings were a common enough problem that I'd have that checked out. Maybe they replaced those when the swapped the axle, though. By the way, I'd do both sides to keep things in balance.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,078
    My initial thought was wheel bearings as well, but my reservation is that it does not sound like it is behaving like a typical wheel bearing problem. Along the same lines, though, it also does not sound like an CV/axle issue! In fact, unless the CV joint is really bad, the only time you are going to hear any noise at all is when turning sharply, such as in a parking lot.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'll agree, doesn't sound like a typical wheel bearing noise. Another thing to check is the nut on the axle end. I had one loosen up on my legacy, and we thought it was a bearing issue, stopped racing it for a few events and when we went to change it, turned out to be the aluminum ring that holds the nut tight, loosened and the nut backed off about 1/4 turn and was causing the noise.

    CVs are actually a fairly simple repair, we did a set on a legacy this pas weekend in about 2hrs. Cheap parts too.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 13,078
    Okay, here I go off topic, but Mike, did you replace just the CV joint or the whole axle assembly? The axle on my 1996 Outback, while simple to replace, was a $209 part. Maybe though, that is partly because I purchased at the local dealer's shop. :sick:

    I did not consider replacing the joint itself as the local advice at the time (that was pre-Edmunds days for me) was that they are built to be a one-piece unit.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    As far as I know you can't replace the joint itself. We've only replaced the whole axle/joint assembly. I won't tell you how much they cost from a distributor, you might kill your dealer!


  • Ok yes everything hear makes sense. um I'm confused now. How about this, when the car was in for the axle replacement in 05' they also found an engine code that indicated that the third cylinder had a misfire. they cleaned the wire and spark plug and said everything was ok. now I don't seem to have any hesitation or anything like that. the engine and tranny where checked and everything is fine. one think I have noticed is it gets louder on raining and windy days, more noticable. also in weather below 20 degrees no noise is noticed, almost like what is causing this noise is silenced at low temps. weird I know, the weirder thing is no one can find anything wrong. mayb this is a subaru noise and I'm thinking it's abnormal. no other car I have ever driven made this weird strange sound.
    confused ? LOL
  • hondafriekhondafriek Ottawa CanadaPosts: 2,976
    If I read your post correctly you should still have warranty. The power train warranty is 5 years or 100,000 Kilos. You are within that with year 02 and 54K

    Cheers Pat.
  • bfindlaybfindlay Posts: 1
    The piston slap problem is still an issue with new cars too. My wife and I purchased a 2006 2.5I Outback last year and after only 4000 miles we started hearing a terrible slapping noise when the car warms up that sounded like someone was taking a hammer to the engine block! The trouble is, it is inconsistent and of course when we bring the car into the dealership it doesn't act up. It seems to be associated with cold days and when it happens (about 40% of the time) our neighbors are looking around wondering what that banging noise is. This car is still practically brand new! We are taking action with Subaru and plan on selling the car as soon as we can get it fixed. Too bad since other than this problem we love the car...

  • More than likely this is not piston slap as the pistons of the 2.5 engine no longer have the shorter skirts. What you are hearing is most likely valve train noise caused by lack of oil at startup. Try switching to a lower xW viscosity oil like a 5w-x or 0w-x or a synthetic. If you want to stick with conventional oil, try Havoline Deposit Shield 5w-30, it is a thinner weight 5w-xx oil. These oils will start flowing faster and easier in the cold. You might also want to consider a different oil filter. The Subaru OEM and Purolators are very good and offer excellent flow.

    Even if what you are hearing is piston slap, it has very little affect on the life of the engine and you have stated that it hardly every happens and goes away after the car warms up. I am not seeing what the big deal about this is? Is is really that bad of a problem to get justify getting rid of the car? I guess you might see this as being a terrible problem, but I guess I just don't see it.

    I seem to be seeing more of this lately. Someone has one minor problem with their car and they are flaming away on message boards saying how horrible their car is, etc... I owned a 2001 VW Passat, I KNOW what an unrealiable car is, and yours ain't got nothing on it.
  • ssteveksstevek Posts: 45
    The Check engine light came on my '02 Outback 2.5 a couple days ago. The mileage was about 95,900, don't know if that's any significance. Checked everything obvious, looks ok. I don't notice any unusual sound (I do get pinging with regular gas which has been going on for awhile)or any lack of performance. Wonder if anyone has had the same warning around the same mileage. I'll probably just have to take it into the dealership.
  • Piston slap has nothing to do with CELs. If you are pinging on regular gas you should get that engine checked out anyway, you may have carbon build up on your valves causing hot spots. My guess is that the pinging has something to do with your CEL, maybe a bad O2 sensor or the like.
  • pathtomaxpathtomax Posts: 215
    I had the exact same thing around 110,000 miles. I am far from being a technician, but I would bet it is the Knock Sensor. My CEL came on intermittently for about a week and when I brought it, they replaced the sensor.

    From what I have read online, it is prone to happen around 100k miles.
  • i've noted that other folks have had their problems with the 2.5l engine, and the obonoxious loud ticking noise which seems to appear without any prior cause... however, my car was in the subaru dealership in january '07, after the garage which takes care of basic maintenance noticed an oil leak from one of the manifolds, and they told me that they were aware of gasket failures in certain subarus, and to have the dealer replace under the powertrain warranty.
    ( had about 57k at the time, and less than the 5 years).
    i did exactly this, and the next morning, sure enough, it was the proud owner of a loud ticking noise, which became more apparent as rpm's increase in city driving. ( please also note that the dealer replaced the timing belt since this had to be removed anyway, and i only had to pay for the part)... at highway speeds, the noise is very hard to discern, primarily due to highway and tire noise, and running at about 2,500 to 3, 000 rpm on the tach....
    the local gargage, which is highly respected and aaa approved, noted that they have mentioned that the valves might need to be adjusted as this is common when timing belts are replaced.... the dealer however explained that this should not be necessary because the valves were not impacted when this major engine work was performed...
    the question to subaru was, why did this new headache inducing noise appear after this major engine work when it never, ever made this noise before..... tis a mystery to them, and next week it will go in to the dealer for analysis and whatever engine repair is necessary to eliminate this unpleasant situation.. this will be under my extended warranty purchased through the dealer at the time of purchase, so glad i did...........
    and for the individual who may think this should not be made a big deal.... spend 27 grand for something which now sounds like my '62 beetle's engine and you be happy with it... we all should expect high quality from suburu for what they tout as exeptionally crafted automobiles....
  • ssteveksstevek Posts: 45
    Like yours I think mine may be intermittent, it turned off on the way home today. Sounds like it may be the same sensor,
  • 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: 13,078
    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:
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • 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: 13,078
    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.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • 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: 13,078
    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.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • 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.


This discussion has been closed.