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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2017 Outback 3.6R that at around 20k miles (late 2017) started making a crunching noise that sounded like it was coming from the driver side front wheel.

It got really obvious over speed bumps and low speed braking. It was far worse when it was cold (both outside and at startup) - when it was a warm day the noise usually was much quieter. Every now and then it was bad enough to feel it in the brake pedal. Eventually it got bad enough that it was obvious even in the summer, again especially when the car was just started.

Through 2018 I had many videos, took it in a half dozen times to the dealership, rode around with mechanics and service managers, and they could never find an issue. I took it to another dealership in early 2019 and they immediately said it was the strut and replaced it. The noise was gone even when it was cold.

Now that the weather is cold again, the noise has slowly been creeping back in. It hasn’t gotten terrible yet like it was. I’ve searched this forum and sound some videos that sound similar but not quite the same, and no resolution on any of those posts. CV axles was one guess, strut and sway bar another.

Where can I start troubleshooting this to where I can go to the dealer with more information in hand?
 

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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Maybe you ought not go to the dealer. Maybe you should find an indie shop that won't guess.

Something you could have checked is the brakes and how they are wearing. As the pads wear, the rotors wear. You get a lip on the outside edge of the rotor and interior edge near the "hat". When rust forms on the areas not getting contact with the pads, the edge of the pad will contact the rusted portion as the rust expands. This is especially noticable on a car that is not driven a lot or in areas where it's humid and not driven a lot. The noise will be there until the brake is applied several times, removing rust in the process. Same for cars that sit, rust develops on the wear surface and gets worn off after a few brake applications.

Just one idea.

Another area would be the wheel bearing.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It’s under warranty.

The rotor and brake system were checked several times. Because it also happens without applying brakes, their theory with the strut was that it was happening whenever the strut was compressed, which in their explanation happens a little when the brakes are pressed due to the forward momentum.

At this point in time, I don't hear the sound when the brakes are applied.
 

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2016 Outback 2.5
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This thread concerns more of a "clunking" noise than "crunching" but you might want to check it out. Has to do with the EPS box.

 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks Mike, I’ll add it to the list. The closest sound it reminds me of is old rusty suspension or a spring under heavy load, with something loose banging around at the same time. It sounded a lot like the shock in my 67 Mustang when the mounting bolts were coming loose one time. Probably not similar, but that’s the closest I can come to describing it. I can try to put a video up somewhere (I don’t have YouTube or anything...).

Minor edit: shock on the mustang
 
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