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Discussion Starter #1
How much movement should there be, if any, in the front endlink joint?

I was changing the tires over to summer, and inspecting the suspension while the wheels were off. On the right front, I found that there is a tiny movement in the upper joint of the right front end link. (Part #41 here). I can move the stabilizer bar up and down a bit by hand. The threaded part also moves, so I suspect it's slack in the inner ball joint itself, and not a loose nut. I measured the vertical movement of the bar versus the link with a dial gauge; looks to be around 0.003 inches. All the other links have no apparent movement in the joints.

When moving the stabilizer bar up and down, sometimes there's a distinct "knock" or "clunk" type of sound from the joint -- it's amazingly louder than that small part and minimal movement would seem to be able to generate, but it's definitely from the joint -- perhaps there's some resonating with the stabilizer bar.

Also, recently I had occasionally noticed a muffled "clunk" under the car when moving slowly on a paved surface (e.g. parking lot or laneway) and a wheel encountered a crack or change in the pavement, but it was very random, and I couldn't repeat it by backing up and trying again. I wonder if this little movement in the joint could be the source.

I suspect I'm into replacing the end link, but wanted the views of others on this august forum.

If it is to be replaced, I see that it might need an Allen key to hold the threaded shaft while removing the nut (after a good soaking with penetrating oil). That's okay, but how is the replacement nut torqued down with the Allen key in place? The spec is 33 ft-lb. Although I see that some replacement parts provide a fitting for a spanner next to the joint to prevent the shaft from turning -- this would allow a socket on the nut rather than a box wrench and would be accessible with a torque wrench. So do I go aftermarket for the two front endlinks?
 

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2003 OBW 2.5L 4EAT
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I changed the front endlinks out on the '06 Forester last year, there was quite a bit of movement up & down (this indicates a worn out link) and clunking when driving on rough road & speed bumps.

Installed a set of RalliTEK HD links, $69.95 + shipping and they are more beefy than the stock ones. http://www.spomotorsports.com/
 

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2009 Tribeca Now - 2004 Outback EJ259 - Sold
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There should be virtually no movement in the endlinks.
You will feel the difference with the new part in hand, they are very stiff.
The old ones will freely wobble around, when you get them off.
Clunking over uneven road surfaces a classic symptom of endlinks.

I have never used an allen socket to hold the joint while taking off the nut, the rust that builds up on the exposed threads makes it a PITA.
Easiest method - grab the backside in front of the ball/socket with a couple different size vise grip pliers.
Start with needle nose and when you have loosened it up enough/created more space behind, switch to the larger size.
Blast it off with air impact.

Another inside trick - choose a hammer of your choice & break the metal socket away from the ball/shaft, the only thing holding it together is a plastic cage which comes apart fairly easily.
Then its much easier to get vise grip pliers on there to get the nut off.

Assembly is much much easier since there will be no rust on the threads.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Okay, so it sounds (pun) as if you're confirming my suspicions: the link joint is worn/broken and the link should be replaced, with the likelihood that the small movement is the source of the muffled clunk.

I had seen some threads where a needle nose vise-grip was used to hold the threaded bolt between the mount and the ball (rubber seal) while removing the nut. The idea of just knocking it apart also sound attractive in order to get a better grip.

What about preventing the shaft from turning when tightening the nut? Is the Allen key needed, or will the shaft not turn once it's initially snugged up against the mount?

Same question for torquing the nut when installing the new link. (No way to fit a torque wrench socket onto the nut if the Allen key is needed.)

I'll start researching replacement prices, Subaru and aftermarket.
 

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Car: 2008 Tribeca, 2010 LGT, Sold: 2005 XT Limited
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You need the allen key and a pass through socket. Once you are close, you can put final torque on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
You need the allen key and a pass through socket. Once you are close, you can put final torque on it.
I might be laboring this point but I want to be reasonably sure I have the right tools, and can do the whole job smoothly, beforehand.

If I understand the method correctly, to remove the links, the Allen key is, or might be, needed to prevent the threaded shaft from turning. If the Allen key becomes a problem (some have reported stripping/rounding of the opening in the threaded shaft) there's always the vise-grip and "break apart the socket" approach that ntippet mentioned.

For installation, I would imagine the key and a box wrench or pass-through socket would be sufficient to get the nut snugged down. But my torque wrenches won't accommodate a pass-through socket when torquing the nut to spec. Are you saying not to bother with the torque wrench, or that the shaft is less likely to turn once the nut has already been snugged down?

Is there any risk to the joint if the shaft does turn?

Performance Suby:

The RalliTECs don't appear have a second "nut" to hold the shaft, so I presume they use the Allen key approach as well. Did you tighten the nuts with a torque wrench or just "by feel"?
 

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Honestly I have never bothered with an allen on these, its not needed.
Depending on how rusty they are the allen will be of no use anyway during dis-assembly.

For the new parts you should be able to thread the new nut down and get it hand tight. Then use a bar to hold some pressure on the backside of the link.
This will hold the shaft/ball stationary enough to torque it down.
I typically don't use a torque wrench on parts like these, you get to a point where its not worth the time.
Use the torque wrench enough and you do know what the proper torque feels like.

Depending on which new part you end up getting will determine reassembly.
Some aftermarket links have a nut on the inside of the shaft that makes it easier to hold.
Others come crimped nuts that are a huge PITA, I usually toss them an re use the old nuts w/locktite if that's the case. (would also stay away from those)
 

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2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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I have exactly the same small noises in the front and sometimes the rear.

I pulled my rears off last night a I am doing a whole rear re-do. After a couple days of soaking, 6-10 shots each nut. Mine came right off easy, only 1 of 4 required the vise-grip since it was toward the end...I just knocked it off with a hammer.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
For the new parts you should be able to thread the new nut down and get it hand tight. Then use a bar to hold some pressure on the backside of the link.
This will hold the shaft/ball stationary enough to torque it down.
That nicely addresses my question about final torquing of the nut. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I can get the Subaru end link from the dealer for less that it would cost to order it on line and pay shipping etc, so I'll probably go that route. But the link doesn't come with the nuts, and the dealer price for the genuine Suby ones is ridiculous. Part clerk suggested they would just give me the standard (generic) nuts that the mechanics in the shop use.

Question: Is the nut something special, e.g. self locking? Or would the "freebies" be fine?

Further question: I presume the Allen key used to hold the threaded shaft is metric; anyone know the size?

Just want to be prepared for when I get around to this.
 

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Yeah fasteners from Subaru are pretty ridiculously priced, have had to get a few simple bolts for $12 + a piece.
The nut isn't self locking, but it is high quality & can't say I have seen one rusted at all.
You could just re-use them with some loctite, or use the ones they give you, hopefully they are at least grade 8.
Don't know the exact size of the allen but I would guess between 4-6mm
 

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Master Caster
2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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The hex key size is 5mm. :29:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
5 mm! I'll have to go back in there. I tried a 5 mm yesterday and it didn't go in, but 4 was clearly too small, so I was leaning toward 4.5, which I don't have.

However, I couldn't see into the hole yesterday when I tried the keys -- I didn't raise the car or turn the wheel away -- so I was working only by feel and couldn't see inside the Allen key opening. However, I did manage to take a couple of photos showing the link and the end of the lower mount shaft.

Your confirmation suggests it's just the rust/dirt inside that's preventing the 5 mm key from slipping in. So I'll be prepared to clear the opening when I get down to the work, but this might not be for a while.

Incidentally, the two nuts are 14 mm, and according to information I was able to find in other Subaru forums, at least the top one, if not both, is flanged, self-locking. They're not the same bolts -- the upper has slightly rounded outer corners, whereas the lower does not. According to http://opposedforces.com/parts/, for MY2007, the upper nut is p/n 02351000 (now 90235001), and the lower is another (not indicated -- see link in the first post above -- upper nut is #31, lower is #38). For other years, it looks as if the same nut was used.
 

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Master Caster
2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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Locking Nuts

I just completed a Whiteline 22mm FSB/HD endlink swap yesterday. 5mm is definitely the sixe, corrrosion aside. As far as the nuts, the OE are a self locking type, every other flat on the top is "crimped" at the top thread. I cleaned mine up really good, I could not find any markings to indicate they are different top to bottom. The new HD links came with the "nylon insert/top" type locking nut. This could be a less expensive/hassle of a solution.

FASENAL, NAPA or even a good TRUE VALUE could fix you right up.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Both front end links were replaced this morning. I'll post more details when I get a chance to draft (with photos).
 

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5 mm! I'll have to go back in there. I tried a 5 mm yesterday and it didn't go in, but 4 was clearly too small, so I was leaning toward 4.5, which I don't have.

However, I couldn't see into the hole yesterday when I tried the keys -- I didn't raise the car or turn the wheel away -- so I was working only by feel and couldn't see inside the Allen key opening. However, I did manage to take a couple of photos showing the link and the end of the lower mount shaft.

Your confirmation suggests it's just the rust/dirt inside that's preventing the 5 mm key from slipping in. So I'll be prepared to clear the opening when I get down to the work, but this might not be for a while.
Getting into the hex well with a dental pick before trying to brace it with the 5mm key has served me in the past.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I had the car out today, travelling the same roads and parking lots as I have in the past, and I was surprised by the difference. I had hoped that the "clunk" would be gone (which it was), but I hadn't expected the car to be far quieter otherwise. It's surprising how I had become used to noises that develop slowly over time. I guess even when there wasn't a wheel movement that would cause the sudden "clunk" there were movements that were causing the slack in the joints, albeit tiny, to act like beating drums, and this carried through the body. Going to be looking more closely at the rear links.

rasterman: I did much the same. With the front raised and the wheel turned away, I was able to use a small jeweler's screwdriver to scrape the eight flat sides of the hex well.
 
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