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weehooker 09-24-2008 01:19 PM

Torque Bind or differential issue?
Hi, all, I've done some searching here and got some good info but not quite specific enough.
My son has a 1996 2.5 Outback (auto) w 121K on it that we're trying to nurse along to until he finish's colege in 2010. It's been a great car and is great/safe in snow but is now starting to nickle and dime me with problems. Replaced a front CV joint a few months back and now it feels like there is a problem in the rear. Specificly, if you crank the steering wheel to turn at slow speeds ( like to turn into a parking space) , it feels like the rear inside tire is slipping and grabbing alternatly. ( Slight chatter noise goes with it.). It's pretty noticable ( but only at slow speeds and moderate tight turns.) It sounds like torque bind as described in a few other threads. I've noticed that the rear differential is wet and am guessing it probobly needs a fluid top off /change anyway. ( We've had it since 77K and havn't changed any fluids but oil) So my question is:
Could this be the result of low differential oil? ( which I'll change anyway.)
If not, does it sound like an involved /expensive fix? ( I'm handy but don't want to drop differentials/trany's etc on a 20 yr old car anymore.)
Will it cause a catistrophic failure of some sort if we don't fix it/fix it soon?
I want to avoid dumping it at the dealers to get a $1000 repair bill on a $2500 car.
Thanks in advance!


porcupine73 09-24-2008 02:35 PM

Hi and :welcome2:

There's some info in this other current thread:

Changing differential gear oils, yes good idea to do for maintenance esp if not known when done if ever. However it is not likely to make any difference with the binding.

Hooray 09-24-2008 02:41 PM

"I want to avoid dumping it at the dealers to get a $1000 repair bill on a $2500 car.
Thanks in advance!"

i sold mine for about 2500 with the torque bind. the guy who bought it was convinced it was a ujoint or cv even though i told him it was the VC in the center diff. that was one repair i did not want to have to make.

weehooker 09-24-2008 05:01 PM

Thanks Gents, it doesn't sound good for "ol Blue".
I paid $5800 3 years/ 45K mi ago and have had to put about $1300 in repairs into it since ( including exhaust repairs, timing belt, tune up, 4 tires and a battery). The exhaust is still needing replacement at some point and the body is beat-up. ( His first car.) I still have an O2 sensor & cyl 4 misfire light (code) that seems to come on /clear now and then too. I'll try the fuse trick and see if that helps but it's sounding like ANY attempted fix is going to get expensive fast. Too bad, otherwise, it runs good and would likely go a long time. I'm just not going to put serious $ into this car at this point. ( I can buy it's twin for $2700 at a dealer down the road right now.)
Having said that, we'll likely drive it into the ground ( any guess's how fast this will get bad?) and then shop for a newer outback. It's been a great car for his needs. Safe, good on gas and sporty looking.

porcupine73 09-24-2008 05:57 PM

>>Having said that, we'll likely drive it into the ground ( any guess's how fast this will get bad?) and then shop for a newer outback.

Having said that, provided all your tires match (sounds like they do since you said you got 4 new tires), and you are not currently getting a flashing AT temp light, then I would try putting in some differential limited slip additive in with the ATF. This is something Subaru used to recommend for binding in the early 90's. It's a little controversial I guess but it is worth a shot.

AWDFTW 09-24-2008 11:10 PM

If you're not up for a $1200 or so repair [what it cost to get our 96 OB fixed after the Duty C solenoid failed...torque bind for the lose] I'd give both front and rear diffs fresh fluid as well as a complete tranny fluid flush. Complete, not just a single drain and fill. eithr do a total fluid transfer or several drain and fills over a few days worth of driving. This will likely cost under a hundred bucks, maybe even less depending on what brands you use, and might buy you a little time. Then again it might not. But for the price it may be a band-aid fix to limp the car along for a while.

weehooker 09-25-2008 08:17 AM

Thanks again. Yes, all tires match ( and are factory sized), no idiot lights going off. Sounds like I should flush and refill the differentials and tranny ( I can do myself) and try some additive. That shouldn't cost more than a 1/2 months car payments! Really would like to get another year out of it. Any ideas, how long it will take to flat out leave us stuck? We talking 1000 or 10,000mi?

FWIW Dealer down the road has a 97', 115K, in excelent shape for $2750. Tempting but I wonder if it just be more of the same on a car that old. Likely go for a 01/02 this time around.

p.s. Any particular brand fluid I should look for? Also, is the anti-slip a dealer only additive?

porcupine73 09-25-2008 08:37 AM

Hi. The limited slip additive you should be able to get at pretty much any parts store. It's usually used as an additive for gear oil for clutch based limited slip differentials. In this case we add the limited slip additive to the automatic transmission fluid (if you are wanting to go this route). The additive is a friction modifier and just kind of helps the transfer clutch not to be so grabby. There are those who say they wouldn't add it to the ATF, well Dexron ATF is already a fairly friction modified fluid and we are just adding more friction modifier.

If you decide to go for an '01/02 soob at some point be sure to make note of the potential external head gasket peeping leak on those, but you may be able to find one where the HG's had already been replaced under warranty.

Changing the differential gear oils is always good as maintenance esp if you have no idea when it was done last. Generally the binding has nothing to do with the differentials though.

weehooker 09-27-2008 10:44 AM

One last question. I went to find the FWD fuse today and don't see it in either the under hood or under dash block. Is it somewhere else on a 96'??

porcupine73 09-27-2008 10:56 AM

Hi. Sorry this pic is so blurry, but it is of a '96 (legacy). You can see the FWD fuse holder at the top left of the pic. It is above the strut tower, and below the wiper motor. It's kind of hard to see it's black with blurry white letters on it.

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