Intermittent Screeching from front Passenger Wheel - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 08:18 PM Thread Starter
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Intermittent Screeching from front Passenger Wheel

This is a "name that sound" thread. I'm hoping to get a diagnosis since I have an appointment scheduled for Saturday for some routine maintenance at the dealership where I bought the car (I recently moved about 40 miles to be closer to work and the dealership is now ~40 miles away). I'm hoping for some advice on what the noise is and whether or not I should hold out or get in right away at a local dealership.

So, driving home on the highway (~40 miles) last night, I did not notice anything odd until I pulled in to park (although, I was listening to music fairly loud). When I pulled in to park, I heard a very loud screech like nails on a chalk board. I got out, walked around the vehicle looking for signs of the screech and found nothing. I got out and backed up and went forward again--no sound at all.

This morning I drove into work (~6 miles) and heard a very slight whirring noise coming from the passenger side of my vehicle only in the last half mile, but it vanished before arriving at work.

I then went out for lunch and heard a louder "nails on chalkboard" type of sound. I kept driving to try and identify where it was coming from and narrowed it down to the passenger side for sure. The noise would lessen when I applied the brake and then revert back to making a ton of noise.

I immediately scheduled an appointment with a local dealer because I don't want to mess around with metal on metal sounds. But then, on my way home tonight, I started out with really loud nail on chalk board sound, but the more I drove and applied my brakes, it eventually went away.

So, my prognosis so far:
1. It shouldn't be brake wear indicators since the problem goes away when I apply the brakes.
2. Possibly a bearing went? The only time I've had a bearing go previously on another vehicle, it started out relatively quite and increased to just a loud low-pitch whirring noise with increased speed--though I know you can get grinding depending on if you don't take care of it.
3. Possibly it was a rock that was stuck? (I don't know why it would come and go though)
4. Could rapidly transitioning between below freezing to 58 degrees Fahrenheit have anything to do with it?

I plan to take it out for another test drive tonight and if it continues to behave, I'm thinking I will let it go until Saturday and cancel my appointment for tomorrow. I'm just curious if anyone else has encountered something like this or if anyone really thinks I should get it in the shop ASAP even if it the noise has stopped for now.

Thank you!

P.S. My car just went out of warranty last month and has 51k
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 08:32 PM
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Sure sounds like a brake problem, could be a seized brake caliper, not sure if they have double pistons or not. May be just one of the pistons is stuck open? May be a broken brake pad, or rotor. Something like this should show it's ugly face as soon as you take off the tires. Let us know the outcome.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 08:38 PM
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Sounds like (pun intended) brake wear indicators to me. They should make the screech noise when the brakes are not applied and be quiet when brakes are applied. 51,000 mi is about about right for a brake job.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 08:42 PM
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I live on a gravel road and once in a great while a small stone will get stuck between the caliper and the rotor. It makes an awful racket and will suddenly quit after the stone pops back out. I figure it gets ground down pretty quickly and drops out..

A bad wheel bearing will have low growl when it starts to go and the sound may vary as you turn from side to side.

Of course if you didn't drive through any gravel it could be any of the other things you mentioned. Since you'll be at the dealer let them get a look at let us know what they find.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 08:46 PM
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Sounds like (pun intended) brake wear indicators to me. They should make the screech noise when the brakes are not applied and be quiet when brakes are applied. 51,000 mi is about about right for a brake job.
+1!!
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-07-2012, 09:33 PM
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I also have a stone driveway. A couple of weeks after getting our new Outback I went to back up leaving the house. Had the most scary screech. Back and forth a couple if inches and it was terrible. Had the wife get in and got down by the right front wheel. Listened while she put it in reverse. Realized it came from the inner shield. Reached under and pulled the shield back and a small pebble fell out. You wouldn't believe how loud it was. If nothing caught there then I would suspect brakes.

Glenn in South Jersey
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-08-2012, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
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And the winner is... no idea. The issue went away and stayed away, so it was most likely a rock since I drove over a patch of loose gravel a little before parking when I first heard the noise. The dealership couldn't find anything and said my brakes were tip-top with over 50% brake pad life left

Go figure. But if you want to annoy pedestrians, shove a rock between your calipers and turn your music up--it's pretty sure fire.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-08-2012, 10:58 PM
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I'll vote for the piece of gravel being stuck behind the brake shield and rotor. Living on a gravel road we've experienced it several times. Sometimes it takes care of itself, sometimes it comes and goes and sometimes you have to take the wheel off and deflect the shield enough to get the piece of gravel out.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-09-2012, 01:18 AM
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Originally Posted by glenncd View Post
I also have a stone driveway. A couple of weeks after getting our new Outback I went to back up leaving the house. Had the most scary screech. Back and forth a couple if inches and it was terrible. Had the wife get in and got down by the right front wheel. Listened while she put it in reverse. Realized it came from the inner shield. Reached under and pulled the shield back and a small pebble fell out. You wouldn't believe how loud it was. If nothing caught there then I would suspect brakes.
Most likely cause. It has happened to me with other disc brake equipped vehicles.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-29-2012, 09:49 PM
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+1!!
+2

Pull a wheel (the screechy one) and look. Don't play around with brakes or bearings! The wear indicators on my daughter's '05 Legacy came and went for a month until I got to it.
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