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Wife's Car - 2005 LL Bean Outback, Daughter's car - 2005 Impreza RS Sedan, Son's Car 2011 Outback 2.5 Premium
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131 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey Folks,

Has any one ever run into this issue or know why it might happen? :confused:

The driver's side front axle has popped part way out of the differential. This happened when turning a corner.

The car belongs to my son's fiancee. It is a '03 Outback with 2.5 and 4 speed automatic. She bought it about a year and a half ago. the car now has ~133,000 miles on it. CV joint boots appear to be OK as there isn't any leakage evident. A few days before this happened, my son asked me to take a look at the car as there was a new sound and it seemed to be getting worse. It seemed to be coming from the tranny. It changed pitch with speed and I could feel a slight vibration on the gear selector (stick) as well. The noise and the vibration would go away if you let off of the gas though.

I checked the ATF and it is at the proper level and looks OK on the dipstick and paper towel. I also checked the level of the lube in the differential and it looked good as well.

We were going to take it to a tranny shop and have it checked out. but the next time the car was driven, the axle came out part way. She was turning a corner and all of sudden the little noise got VERY BIG.

Ideas ? Commments ? Suggestions ? :confused:
 

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Premium Member
03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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18,113 Posts
someone working on the car in the past (maybe struts, bearing, likely axle replacement) didn't seat the stub into the diff or the stub is missing its circlip to retain it.

if you're lucky, the seal is OK. I'd consider changing the diff fluid, reseating the axle stub and hope no serious damage was done.

it is uncommon and I have only read of it a coupla times in the past.
 

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01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
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15,483 Posts
The axle came out? It didn't separate at the joint or brake? It can brake and leave an intact boot.

If it came out, I'd say it wasn't locked in the differential to start with or the drift pin was left out. Both would be due to previous repairs and the tech erred. If it is broken or came apart at the joint, it's not unheard of.

I would also be looking into loose ball joints or lower control arm bushings. Something in the suspension allowed for the extra extension needed for the axle to come out or separate.
 

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Wife's Car - 2005 LL Bean Outback, Daughter's car - 2005 Impreza RS Sedan, Son's Car 2011 Outback 2.5 Premium
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131 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Update

Hey, I just want to let folks know that the axle was indeed partially out of the differential and they had to replace the stub shaft as the end of the splines were messed up. C-Clip was still on it. CV joints seem fine. Ball Joints and the rest of the suspension seem fine so they are a bit perplexed as to why and how the axle would come out. Right now their only answer is that maybe it was worked on previously and it did not get put back together all of the way (ends of the splines finally wore enough to let it start slipping).

The issue is that now that they have it back together, they have noticed a noise, but are unsure of what is causing it, so they are still trying to diagnose it.
 

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Wife's Car - 2005 LL Bean Outback, Daughter's car - 2005 Impreza RS Sedan, Son's Car 2011 Outback 2.5 Premium
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131 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Update 2

Just got the call. They suspect something is broke inside of the front differential as in addition to the noise the front differential is wantiing to lock-up. They are saying the most cost effective action is to replace with a used (70k mile) transmission and differential. Looking at a $1200 to $1300 bill. Ouch ! !
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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5,947 Posts
I just replaced my trans because of a worn pinion bearing.

Make sure they don't swap in a 2004 trans. The Hollander Interchange information has been updated that it won't work in an '03, but not everyone uses it.

The labor for the swap should be 'about' 600-650, my trans was 800 but it was for an H6, a little rarer so a little more expensive.

Outbacks and legacies have different gear ratios in the diff, hopefully they know to use a 4.44 geared trans, not a 4.11 from a legacy.
 

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Gallery Ninja, ,
2004 Outback "Bluebaru" & 2005 Outback XT
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5,192 Posts
What is this, the third exploded differential this week? (possible)

Here's my thread on my rear diff, but it gives you an idea of what might have gone wrong. http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums...ont-go-back-spring-retainer-style-joints.html

Call and source a used transmission yourself if you have the time or check for cars being parted to maybe save some coin. That said, your mechanic might have much better sources and might look out for you better than your own judgement.

Sorry to hear about the failure!
 

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Gallery Ninja, ,
2004 Outback "Bluebaru" & 2005 Outback XT
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5,192 Posts
Outbacks and legacies have different gear ratios in the diff, hopefully they know to use a 4.44 geared trans, not a 4.11 from a legacy.
Note: Better check the gearing in person than the spec book as Dave points out. In my Outback, I have 4.11 gears, counter to Dave's experience. :29:
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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2000-2004 with 4.11, or your 2005?

For Gen 2 it's 'supposed to be' 4.44 for H4 OB with 4EAT, 4.11 for legacy and H6 OB.

I have no idea if they kept to that for '05+.
 

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Gallery Ninja, ,
2004 Outback "Bluebaru" & 2005 Outback XT
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5,192 Posts
The 04 actually. I am not sure why but the ring gear stamp does not lie.
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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Weird, but just goes to show exactly what you said- best to check in detail!

I am pretty sure the interchange manuals won't match an outback trans for a legacy and vice-versa based on the gearing, I wonder if the gearing is encoded in the trans part number?

The choices on the car-part search engine:

M.T., GT
M.T., exc. GT; Outback
M.T., exc. GT; exc. Outback
A.T., 2.5L (4 cyl), Brighton & L model
A.T., 2.5L (4 cyl), Outback & SUS
A.T., 2.5L (4 cyl), GT
A.T., 3.0L (6 cyl), VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Cont)
A.T., 3.0L (6 cyl), w/o VDC
 

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Gallery Ninja, ,
2004 Outback "Bluebaru" & 2005 Outback XT
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5,192 Posts
P.s. I have a manual transmission which is probably why the gearing is different than you thought. :)
 

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2017 Touring 2.5i; '07 B9T Ltd, '04 Forester X
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96 Posts
The axle came out? It didn't separate at the joint or brake? It can brake and leave an intact boot.

If it came out, I'd say it wasn't locked in the differential to start with or the drift pin was left out. Both would be due to previous repairs and the tech erred. If it is broken or came apart at the joint, it's not unheard of.

I would also be looking into loose ball joints or lower control arm bushings. Something in the suspension allowed for the extra extension needed for the axle to come out or separate.
Similar thing happened to me on my B9 a few days ago... though it was the RH axle that came out of the front differential on my 5EAT. Unlike the OP's 03, I've got a one-piece stub/PTJ axle and the whole thing came out, c-clip and all, while I was driving. Heard a high-pitch scream and simultaneously lost almost all power... fortunately, I was able to coast & limp my way to an off-ramp where I could stop and be towed back home.

It's not unreasonable to see how the c-clip might pop in/out of its groove from time to time under usual driving conditions, but the axle stub has to move a good 35-45 mm to completely disengage from the differential. Initially, I thought it was the Moog stabilizer link (the only non-OEM part on my suspension - to my knowledge, anyway) I installed on the LH side when I rebooted, but upon inspection over the weekend, I just couldn't see how that would have given an excessive amount of play sufficient for the axle on the opposite side to work its way out. So I checked the RH LCA, BJ, bushings, strut and bearing for any play at all and couldn't find anything that looked out of the ordinary. According to the Car Fox report, the previous owner had been in a front-end collision, but a) it was minor enough that the airbag(s) did not deploy and b) there's no sign of any damage or repair anywhere on the chassis, so I don't think I'm dealing with a bent frame or suspension.

Here's the curious part: when it came out, I was driving on the highway at cruising speed (55-65 mph) straight and smooth, i.e. I wasn't going around a curve or turning when the axle popped out and the road I was on was repaved last year. So I figured broken axle, right? Nope... the axle is still good. I rebooted both axles about a month ago, so I'm the "tech" who worked on it last, but I can say, unequivocally, that the axles were reinstalled by the book, I even made sure the c-clips "clicked" into place. Granted, the c-clip probably popped out of its groove well before the axle actually came out the other day, but for the life of me, I can't figure out what would have caused this to happen.

The only thing I could think of that made sense was that I might have an aftermarket axle, so I procured one from a junkyard off an '06 B9, and a casual comparison of the two indicates no obvious differences.

Any thoughts?



[Epilogue: There were some metal shavings on the splines inside the differential and on the stub where the gear and the stub did some grinding, but we're talking microns shaved off the tip of the stub and no noticeable damage to the gear. There was no metal in the fluid, pan or on the magnet, so it looks like the metal shavings were not pre-existing. However, I did notice some scoring inside the roller bearing that concerned me and upon further examination, I found some splotches of metal had apparently fused to the stub shaft between the splines and the cup (looked like someone dripped some tiny drops of molten solder onto the stub shaft)... not sure when this might have happened, but after flushing the differential a couple times, the roller bearing didn't feel like it was stuck or had any resistance to it so I installed the salvage axle & a new seal, and didn't feel any lateral play in the stub inside the differential. I finished putting things back together and everything now seems to be back to normal.]
 

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1. How many miles/years did you own it before this happened?
2. How many miles on it now?

I would assume someone worked on it and the circlip/axle was never fully seated.
 

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2017 Touring 2.5i; '07 B9T Ltd, '04 Forester X
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96 Posts
1. How many miles/years did you own it before this happened?
2. How many miles on it now?

I would assume someone worked on it and the circlip/axle was never fully seated.
I bought it in October with 138k, and it now has 151k.

However, as I mentioned, I was the one who last worked on the axles, and I distinctly recall "clicking" the axles into place. Of course, I'm presuming the click meant the c-clips were fully seated... if something else made a click when I put the stub back into the differential, then the axle may not have been fully seated.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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i suppose, in theory, there could be some type of internal failure inside the inner joint that locked it up such that it was unable to articulate outwards. Just got jammed somehow? Seems very unlikely. If other suspension components are worn, that seems more likely to allow for 'over extension' but ??????
 

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2017 Touring 2.5i; '07 B9T Ltd, '04 Forester X
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Finally got around to uploading pictures... I can't say I noticed this the first time when I rebooted, but any idea what these "splotches" are on my old axle stub?
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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whoa - galling or similar damage from metal-on-metal friction.
 

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'03 Outback H6-3.0 Black Granite Pearl, base model with cold weather package and cloth seats.
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Looks like "galling" to me.

Caused by metal to metal friction/sliding without adequate lubrication. Metal transfers from one surface to another, friction welded.

If you are re-using this part, consider using a sharpening stone to remove the excess metal down to the proper surface level.
 
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