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Old 11-07-2011, 05:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Loose axle shaft

My brother in law replaced the 2 axles in the front end of my wife's car 8-12 months ago. We had a knocking noise & he was looking for a few bucks. In hindsight, I wish I had checked it all 1st. The noise never quit. In looking at it the other day, the passenger side "shaft" (or whatever it's biblical name is) that comes out of the tranny/diff/transfer case has play in it. There appears to be a removable seal or bearing where the play is. I am not familiar with Subarus so, I was seeing if anyone knows what I mean or if I'm actually looking at a tranny rebuild. I would think if it were inner differential issues, I'd have play on both sides. Thoughts?
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Old 11-07-2011, 08:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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have you checked the trans fluid? auto or manual?
front diff fluid as well if it's an auto.

did the issues change or stay exactly the same after the new axles were installed? sounds like it stayed the same...which would suggest the axles are not the cause? need to rule that out since aftermarket axles are absolutely horrible.

i doubt this "play" is the culprit but maybe you should describe it better? the inner joints have some play to them, they aren't structural really, they just transfer power. on the auto's - if you yank the axle hard enough the stubby shaft just plops right out of the trans, held in only by a circlip.

auto or manual trans?

can you describe the noise better?
do you know exactly where it's coming from?

cracked flexplate, piston slap, rod knock, timing tensioner failing and flopping around.

have the headgaskets ever been replaced?
trans fluid ever been changed?
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Old 11-08-2011, 11:13 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Head gasket job twice with the most recent about 6 months ago. It started making the noise right after we bought it from a buddy of mine. He had a head gasket job done about 20k miles before i bought it. The noise sounds just like a knocking CV joint. It increases with speed but does it intermittently. I jacked up the front end and a buddy and I pushed on the wheels because I was suspecting bearings on the hub or maybe a suspension issue because it makes the knock every time the brakes are applied(weight shifting). Anyway, started hearing the knock while spinning the tires. Passenger side the shaft coming out of that case looks and feels sloppy compared to the driver side and it's most definitely the source of the noise. Honestly, I do not know when the last AT flush was. I bought the car about 25k miles ago and it's been a lemon of sorts. Not sure I would buy another Subaru but if I get more comfortable with repairs, I might not burn the thing right down to the ground.
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Old 11-08-2011, 12:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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In reading an article about CV replacements, I REALLY regret replacing the axles with the $80 specials now. I admit, I'm a novice. I just went and looked at it again. It's the passenger axle coming out of the diff case that I'm describing. I guess that's the "inner" CV joint/boot there? I wonder if it was just a bad part to begin with now? I need a transmission diagram so I can see what connections or bearings are right there where it goes into the case.
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Old 11-08-2011, 05:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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If you could take one or a few pictures of the area that your looking at, and show where the slack or looseness is, it might be easier to narrow down the problem. (Post them to a photo storage website such as photobucket.com and then provide the links here.)

In the absence of photos, I've attached diagrams of front axles that should apply to 99. (There's two different models, but for this purpose the difference isn't relevant.)

I presume the slack or movement is at the differential end, that has the larger "can" with the accordian-like rubber boot.

Can you describe, using the diagrams, exactly what is moving and in what direction?

Also, if the "can" moves in toward the transmission, and out toward the wheel, check to make sure the roll pin is in place.
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Old 11-09-2011, 02:44 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for the diagram! The movement is in the "can"/joint back by the roll pin. When I spin the tires back and forth there is play in and out of the diff but it's slight and I assume it's normal travel but there is also slight horizontal movement. Perhaps it's normal too. My brother in law says he thinks there is an inner bearing that's bad but he's not a Subaru mechanic. Roll pins are in place. AT fluid is full and appears clean, oil in the diff looks a bit low after driving it just now. When driving, the noise is intermittent and does it more so at less than say, 15 mph and is always upon acceleration. Never hear it once we're clipping along. Took a pic and a video. Thanks for your time!

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Old 11-10-2011, 08:41 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I've looked at the video a few times but can't really identify where the slack is, that is, is it in the can (sort of under the flexible boot), or in the differential.

Also, if the roll pin is in, then the whole "can" should not move out from, or in toward, the differential to any degree. This is because the axle (stub) shaft that goes into the "can" and is locked in place by the roll pin, is held inside the differential by a circlip that fits into a groove in the shaft and into a corresponding groove in the differential side gear. (See #10 in the attached diagram)

I wonder if when the axle was replaced, the stub gear was pulled out (it can be) and then not re-inserted far enough so that the circlip locks in the side gear groove. Or, the circlip might have broken. In either case, this would allow the shaft to move in and out, and could allow this to cause the noise you hear.
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File Type: pdf MSA5TCD99L181.pdf (59.9 KB, 106 views)
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Old 11-10-2011, 11:06 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The slack and the knock both appear to be in that can. The knocking noise is definitely in the can. The video may be kinda poor. It's just an iPhone video. Is the knocking normal? I could take the axle out & replace it myself but I wouldn't know if it's actually needed. My wife insists the noise stopped briefly after the axles were replaced. Is there a way I can "test" a CV joint?
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Old 11-11-2011, 09:07 AM   #9 (permalink)
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There should not be any slack or noise coming from inside the "can", as far as I know.

Both axles were replaced. Have you compared the noisy passenger side with the one on the driver side? I presume the driver side doesn't have that slack and make that noise. If so, then the passenger side is not right.

Here's something to try: Hold the larger can with one hand and try to rotate the narrower axle coming out of it (going to the wheel) with your other hand. Can the narrower axle be rotated relative to the can? Again, compare to the other axle, to see if it's different.

Based on what you've said, there might be a bad joint in the can. (That joint is often referred to as the DOJ, to distinquish it from the joint nearer the wheel. DOJs can bend, but also move in and out (i.e. stretch in overall length), to allow for the up and down movement of the wheel.
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Old 11-11-2011, 10:21 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I already compared the 2 and I don't really see or hear a difference though, it's tougher to see the drivers side one. I think I'll pull the passenger axle and look for broken parts
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