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Discussion Starter #1
This is the noise my new 2013 Outback Limited is making when the passenger side front tire loses traction and spins free. Not sure what it is...ABS, Wheel Bearing?...I've got no clue.

Video Link:
2013 Subaru Outback Odd Noise - YouTube

The only thing I do know is it's not rubbing anything, and it's not snow or ice bouncing off the fender well. I had my daughter spin the tire with me outside the car and there was nothing I could identify as making the noise.

Another thing that's odd, I couldn't hear the noise outside the car, but if I stuck my head in the passenger side window I could hear it.

Has anyone else experienced this or know what the sound might be?
 

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2013 Twilight Blue Outback
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Just called my dealer about the EXACT same noise yesterday. They told me it was traction control, but yours did it with traction control off........they also added it was a "normal" sound. Now I wonder.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Just called my dealer about the EXACT same noise yesterday. They told me it was traction control, but yours did it with traction control off........they also added it was a "normal" sound. Now I wonder.
I had someone tell me it was the ABS pump trying to slow down that wheel, and from what I understand even with TC off the ABS system is still engaged and kicks in.

I know a lot of folks come to this site and some are Subaru mechanics so from what I've seen you can get more solid information here than from most dealerships. LOL Anyway I figured more than a few people have had this happen and may be able to tell me what it is. Thanks.

On another note, I wish more people would use Youtube and record some of the problems they experience. I had an issue with my Nissan truck and recorded it...the dealer said it helped them find the problem in less than 1/2 the time it would have if they were just diagnosing it from scratch. Plus it helps if the problem is intermittent and only happens on first start or when cold.
 

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2007 Outback XT Ltd
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847 Posts
Are you sure you aren't just hearing the tire slipping on the ice as you accelerate? ABS has nothing to do with it - the TCS will try to slow the spinning wheel ONLY when it is switched on..... but I have never heard an "ABS type" sound (a chatter or groan) when the TCS engages, because (I suspect) the brake is not pulsed rapidly, as it is by the ABS under braking. With TCS OFF you will definitely hear some tire scrubbing as it spins.

Try placing the car with the right tires on dry pavement and the left ones on ice, then accelerate. If the noise appears again on the right side, I think you can conclude that it is normal servo noise. If there is no sound, then the front suspension and hub need to be looked at. I have no clue what the problem is.... but your video and ability to demonstrate the sound "on command" should make it easier for the Subaru tech to find the problem.

Good luck.

John Davies
Spokane WA USA
 

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2013 OB 3.6R Limited, Black Silica
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Been driving my 2013 on snow/ice for about a month now and can't say I have noticed that noise, but haven't looked for it and between heater fan and music probably wouldn't notice it.

I can tell you that when you turn off the TCS (VDC) all your traction control and ABS is still engaged. The only effect I have found is that it removes the automatic throttle control which cuts throttle to regain traction.
 

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Guys the new Gen4 cars have a power distribution system left vs right side - which uses the ABS system. When a left tire spins free ie low to no traction the ABS system will apply brake pressure to that wheel to slow its spin - this causes more power to be driven to the opposite tire on the other side of the car. I think the sound you hear is the brake system operating this wheel spin limitation function.

The button on the dash you turn off when in snow parking lots etc - removes the throttle cut feature which the system will use to prevent excessive wheel spin - it does not turn off the traction system designed to limit wheel spin and push power to the tires with more traction.

The point of the throttle cut off feature is to prevent excessive throttle inputs causing wheel spin when your at speed like say on the highway or driving around town in bad road conditions. However the throttle cut off will prevent you from plowing your way out of a snowed in parking lot by cutting your power. Hence why you can turn it off so you can get power to the wheels.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Here's a quick update:

I sent the YouTube video to the service manager at my dealership and he took out another OB to see if he could duplicate the sound, which he was able to do...but still insisted I bring it back first thing the next morning. He then used a series of mics, that he could turn on and off while using headphones to isolate the sound. He isolated it to the ABS pump and took me out to the car to show me what he had found. Basically the ABS system try's to stop the rotation of the slipping wheel so the other wheel takes over. The sound was the ABS pump engaging...it seemed loud to me...especially when you're not expecting it, but normal. LOL
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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It sounded like the pump running in the video. The Pump is mounted on the right strut tower, so that does make since. You would think the noise would be isolated more from the interior. Maybe its the vibration of the pump and the bushings aren't absorbing enough of the shock and its traveling through the body.

Can't say that I've ever heard a pump running on a Subaru. Until now.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It sounded like the pump running in the video. The Pump is mounted on the right strut tower, so that does make since. You would think the noise would be isolated more from the interior. Maybe its the vibration of the pump and the bushings aren't absorbing enough of the shock and its traveling through the body.

Can't say that I've ever heard a pump running on a Subaru. Until now.
You would think that wouldn't you. LOL

Apparently this is a new "feature" in the 4th Gen OB :) Hey, but if a noisy pump is all I have to complain about I can live with it.
 

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2013 Subaru Outback
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It's funny because when I first read this, I was wondering how in the heck you got the tires to spin on an Outback. I guess they would on snow/ice, which we don't have where I live...but we do have wet roads. I have floored it at a light from a stand still, and the thing just jumps into action with no discernible spin.

In fact, there was a truck riding my a*s one night after a heavy rain, so I deliberately slowed to a crawl when approaching the light. He was mad so he got right on my bumper. When the light turned green, I floored it and took off. In my rear view mirror, I saw his headlights swerve side to side, so I knew he was also trying to get a jack rabbit start but was losing traction. He was never able to catch me.

The Outbacks are great rain racers. :)
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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^That's funny. Its even funnier when its a rear drive, like a Vette, and they don't expect it. Then at the next light you get the boost up and launch and gone while he's spinning the wheels. Sometimes you just have to.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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^That's funny. Its even funnier when its a rear drive, like a Vette, and they don't expect it. Then at the next light you get the boost up and launch and gone while he's spinning the wheels. Sometimes you just have to.

once or twice a year I have to 'demonstrate' to someone around here that a loud pickup truck is not the same as a quick pickup truck.



lol!
 

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2007 Chrysler 300C built 5.7
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Haven't heard the noise with a tire spinning, but I got a similar sound when I turned HARD to the right at speeds of 15mph+. Sounds very, very similar. Alarming to have a new car do that, I just haven't had time to take it in.
 

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2015 Outback Limited 2.5i
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Just to report, 2015 OB makes the same noise in the same situations, only LOUDER ! This is my first OB/subaru and it scared the **** out of me. I came from a Ford 500 which also had the traction control and it would make a similar noise but much more muted and sounded more mechanical. It was located more in front axle area and was easily identified/dismissed as the abs/traction control. This sound startled me because it was so loud, localized (behind passenger glovebox) and sounded like something was rubbing or grinding. Cant say that I am pleased with the operation, but happy that it is "normal" or at least acceptable to the Subaru Engineers. I hoped i hadnt busted my new car in the first 1500 miles.
 
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