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2001 Outback EJ25-5MT - 406,000km, 2016 Outback Limited Tech-FB25-CVT6 - 9,000km
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92 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My '01 OBW just hit 300,000 km this past weekend. At about 299,750 km I noted a slight whine from the engine or transmission, could not really tell. In the week since noting the start of this whine it has gotten a lot worse.

It whines/drones when accelerating and decelerating in all gears, about equally in every gear, and more pronounced when accelerating. The whine/drone is change pitch with vehicle speed (same sound at 50kph whether in 2/3/4 gear). When coasting in gear there are brief intermittent whines (try as you might you can't really coast any Suburu MT in gear, they tend to pitch a bit between accelerating/decelerating). The droan seems to be worse when corning, does not matter which way I turn. I can feel the drone through the accelerator pedal. And the droan seems to be coming from the transmission tunnel which would be the mid/rear of the transmission (its really hard to tell).

I think the fact that the sound is the same in all gears and is related to wheel speed is reasonably good news as it would indicate that the culprit is the front or centre differential, with the centre differential being more likely.

The VC centre diff seems to be working as it always has. Car drives no differently, still spins all four wheels on ice (still have a lot of that around), and not binding in turns (its droning, but not binding).

My dilemna is what to do about it. My clutch is original, amazing given that I tow a 2,000 lb trailer about 6 to 10,000km per year in hilly terrain. So I don't really want to drop the transmission until the clutch goes, which could be soon, or years from now.

The transmisison is 13 years old with 300,000 km on it, but its seen regular fluid changes, and all the syncros work perfectly. So if its in the tailshaft area I would repair not replace it. But if its not this, and the transmission has to be dropped out, then obviously its a new clutch kit going in, and likely a used transmission, which will have a history that I don't know.

Tommorow it goes up on a lift, and if other posts on this forum are correct as our my assumptions, then its hopefully just a bearing in the tailshaft area where the center differential is located. This would seem to be about $150 in parts and couple hours labour. And the transmission can stay installed.

I have done all the repair jobs on all my previous Subaru's (five so far, one million plus km between them) so I am quite confident on what this sound is not. It is not any of the following:

Tires (they don't make this sound, even though I am still on my snow tires - darn lying groundhog.... spring ain't here yet)

Wheel Bearings (all four replaced in last 2 years, and they don't sound like this)

Drive Shafts (changed boots a while back, and when they go they don't make the sound that I am getting)

Propeller shaft / U Joints (carrier bearing seems tight as do all the u-Joints, and when these go you get a noise and vibration that tends to be more severe than I have)

I did dump the gear oil through a paint strainer to collect any debris. No debris found, and magnet on drain plug had a typical amount of debris stuck to it. The gear oil had about 40,000 km on it (the replacement interval is 48K). The oil appeared to be in no different condition than any previous drains (this would be the sixth drain that I have done).

I put in the lowest cost 75w90 that I could find, since its being dumped anyways once the failure is known and addressed. Normally I run Synthetic lubes. Changing the lube had no impact (some people seem to think that changing lubricants can fix mechanical issues, not really...).

If others have had experiences similar to mine, and it turning out to something other than the centre differential I would like to know about it.

Thanks
 

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2001 Outback EJ25-5MT - 406,000km, 2016 Outback Limited Tech-FB25-CVT6 - 9,000km
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92 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Update - its a noisy bearing

Finally got the car up on a lift today at lunch. Its the very rear of the tailshaft that is noisy, likely the rear bearing on the transfer shaft.


As detailed in a number of postings, in particular on the NASIOC and Forester boards I ordered all four bearings that are in the tailshaft, as well as the rear oil seal. While one bearing is likely gone, you don't miss the opportunity to change all of them, labour costs more than the parts!


The two bearings on the transfer shaft have been superseded with updated parts since the time of manufacture of my '01. All the part numbers listed in the Forester forum are the except same numbers at the dealer from which I ordered the parts from, except for the two superseded parts.


Cost was $160 (Canadian) for the four bearings and seal.


Cross fingers that that is all that is wrong with it. For now the car stays parked until it goes in for the repair on Monday where we hope to confirm that it is just the bearing that is gone and no damage to transfer gears/center diff/viscous coupling.


The transmission shop was stunned at how good the transmission shifted, and also stunned that I had 300,000km on the original clutch, 40,000km+ of which with a 2,000lb trailer in tow.


Of the approximatly 30 Subaru's in town, they have repaired six of them, 2 solenoids (4EAT), one multi-plate transfer clutch (4EAT), one bearing like mine (5MT) and two complete rebuilds of WRX STI transmissions (one guy in town has a highly modified 500HP+ STI) (ran into him once as a gas station, asked him about mileage, he indicated 150 to 200km per tank (64 litres)!)


The shop figures 4 to 5 hours total with approximately 1 to 2 hours fiddling with the exhaust (it needs to come off to access the tailshaft). To save them time I will be repairing the flange on the end of the catalytic convertor pipe, about half of the flange is missing, and while it will come apart at this joint, it may not go back together, just not enough flange left. I will grind that clean and install a split "fix a flange", along with a new "donut" gasket.


The heat shield needs to come out to drop the propeller shaft out of the way, fortunatly I found all of the bolts holding it on to be in excellent shape and loose. Aside from that rusted flange its amazing how good the underside of that car looks after 13 years and 300,000km, half of which time exposed to road salt (this year perhaps more than half...).


So hopefully that 4-5 hours of labour cost actually works out to be 2-3 hours.
 

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2001 Outback EJ25-5MT - 406,000km, 2016 Outback Limited Tech-FB25-CVT6 - 9,000km
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92 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Links to procedures and part numbers

BTW:

Parts listed here: Help with Center Diff Transfer Drive Gear Bearing R&R - NASIOC

Superseded parts here:
Subaru transfer driven gear bearings - Automotive Service Professional

And some repair instuctions here:
Center Diffs and How To Replace Them - Subaru Forester Owners Forum

All the part numbers (including superseding part numbers) from the above posts were correct for my '01 Outback. Makes sense since its really only Phase 1 vs 2, gear ratios and final drive ratio that have varied on this transmission since it was introduced in 1988/89.
 

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Gallery Ninja, ,
2004 Outback "Bluebaru" & 2005 Outback XT
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5,195 Posts
Good posts Clmbr, this will be helpful to someone in the future!
 

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2001 Outback EJ25-5MT - 406,000km, 2016 Outback Limited Tech-FB25-CVT6 - 9,000km
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92 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Bearing Fixed

It was not the rear bearing on the transfer shaft that failed, it was the front bearing.

A couple of the rollers had a bit of pitting in them.

All four bearings were changed out.

One thing to note is that the shims/spacers are useless once you take the tailshaft off. New spacers have to be used, and there is a procedure detailed in the Subaru Service Manual to measure and select the correct spacers. The spacers force the roller bearings into compliance and account for variances in the machinging of the transfer shaft, bearings and transmission case. The shop I took it to is a transmission speciality shop, they have a huge assortment of spacers on hand.

Total cost was $160 + 5 hours labour at $80 an hour, or $560. I could have spent less but the shop I went to knew what they were doing. The car is really quiet, I can swear that a noise from the transmission that I have been living with for about 2 years is also gone. The big issue started about two weeks with a whine, which turned to a drone. If this happens you do not want to put many miles on the vehicle. You can overheat the failing bearing leading to a catastrophic destruction, or warp parts like the transfer shaft or cause gear wear requiring replacement of the very expensive shafts back there.
 

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5spd MT is generally seen for new clutches or failing release bearing between 130,000 and 180,000 miles or 250-300K in your speak. The release bearing is known for failing before the clutch material is done.

Local subaru shop manager however has seen clutches completely toast nothing left after 30K clearly the user lacks proper skill in that case.
 

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2001 Outback EJ25-5MT - 406,000km, 2016 Outback Limited Tech-FB25-CVT6 - 9,000km
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92 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Release bearing noise? - seems to be gone...

The noise that I thought was the release bearing seems to be gone. But it can't be. The fix only dealt with bearings that are in motion when the car is moving. The noise that I had noted starting two years ago seemed to originate from the bell housing, and went away when the clutch pedal was depressed. That's either a shaft bearing or release bearing. The fact that the transmission has not blown up in two years and almost 60,000 km of driving suggests that its not a shaft bearing. Odds are that noise will return at some point....

The other noises that have disappeared is the rattling exhaust. I removed all the heat shields, fixed them up and reinstalled them with some stainless steel scouring pads as an insulator. I used these scouring pads years before and they hold up well. I still have one rattle somewhere.... its an ongoing battle to locate and fix these.

I also had do deal with the flange behind the second catalytic converter. 2/3rds of it had disappeared, and the parts around the spring bolts were about to go. Easily fixed with a 2" split "fix-a-flange".

And its April Fools Day, and the jokes on us in Northern Ontario, its snowing, turning to ice and the road crews seem to have stood down for the season on March 31st....
 
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