Rear end clunking noise? - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums

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Old 09-23-2013, 06:39 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Rear end clunking noise?

Just this morning while going to work like I always do, I was driving down to get on to the highway and noticed when hitting bumps there was a new strut squeak from the back of my car. I thought nothing more of it and pulled on to the small highway I always take to get to the interstate and noticed a constant clunking noise coming from the back of my car. Concerned, I slowed down. It was still there. 5 miles later I finally found a safe place to pull off the road. All the tires looked fine, none were low on air, etc... Everything looked normal. The rims were not hot either.

Figuring it was just the road, I continued to try to go to work. When I merged onto the highway, the dreaded clunk came back. I put on my four ways and limped it at 40 mph to the next exit and limped it home (at that point maybe 10 miles) at hardly ever more than 20 mph.

Some things I noticed: when under a pull like going up a hill and trying to maintain a constant speed, the clunking stops. When applying heavy braking, the noise seems to stop. It only seemed to clunk when the car was cruising or under light acceleration. The clunk happens when the vehicle is in or out of gear.

Recent work to the car includes changing brake pads and painting the calipers and brackets. That job was finished on Saturday, I drove the car around town yesterday (dinner with the girlfriend and whatnot) and it never clunked and drove perfectly fine. The noise seems to have started just today.

I feared it could be the center differential, but when I tested it (tight corner at very low speed) there was no issue, no clunks, nothing. The car behaved normally.

The tires on the car have been on the car for quite some time. They are approaching due replacement, but otherwise seem fine. The front tires do look to have more tread left than the rear tires. I'm very concerned about this.

I'm going to call a few local shops on my involuntary day off and see what it can be.

Meanwhile, does anyone else have any suggestions or ideas?
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Old 09-23-2013, 08:44 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Can't decide from your description alone. Could still be a lot of things, some cheap and low priority, others not so much. You're on the right track getting it on a lift and having it checked out now.

Regarding the tires- if you don't replace them soon you should move the best tread to the rear for winter driving. It will help prevent spin outs in low-traction conditions, and applies to all 4-wheeled cars regardless of AWD.
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Old 09-23-2013, 08:58 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Long shot here, possibly one of the caliper hangers came loose(lost a bolt) and is allowing the whole caliper and hanger to knock either against the wheel or the rear knuckle/radius arm.
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Old 09-23-2013, 09:24 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Well it finally got light out and I got under the car to tighten up any bolts that I might have missed, etc... on the right rear. One bolt was just a touch loose. It maybe tightened 30 degrees at most. I took it on a drive, rolled down the window (stupidly, I didn't do that this morning) and the noise persisted, but this time, it was from the front driver side of the car!

So I took a look at the wheel, thinking it maybe, just possibly it being a wheel bearing, so I shook the wheel. It only moved a little, which made me notice that the lug nuts were not tightened down the whole way. I could have SWORN I tightened them down with the air gun after finishing the brake job. I tightened them down and took it for another drive, and viola. No more noise.

Either someone wanted my rims and decided they weren't worth it, or (most likely) I got distracted while tightening down the lug nuts and only did two.

rasterman, I have a set of basically new 16" Cooper Weathermasters from an old vehicle I drove not even 200 miles before a catastrophic engine failure. Once I find an old set of 16" Subaru rims at a junk yard that are in good condition, I'll be using them and my current tires will be replaced when spring comes. That said, I'm going to heed your advice and move the tires with the best tread from the front to the back of the vehicle. And be sure to tighten the lug nuts the whole way this time...

Thanks guys!
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