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01 LL Bean
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I have a 2001 LL bean outback which has been making a minor creaking noise upon turning more noticeable at slow speed and may be felt as a slight vibration in the steering wheel. After looking into it, I have determined it is the steering coupling U-joint which is on the steering column just out from the firewall. I know it is this joint as I can spray lubricant on it and make the noise / vibration go away for a week or so.

Has anyone changed this coupling? Any tips? Is it as much of a pain as it appears to be? Special tools required?

Thanks
 

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01 Outback H6 VDC, 97 GT wgn w/ ej22, 98 OBW w/ej22
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no special tools needed. do it on ramps, not jack stands. if the wheels are in the air you are likely to end up with the steering wheel at an angle. it will help the tie off the steering wheel so it dose not spin with the u-joint off. marking the alignment position will not help since you are replacing the joint.

there are 2 pinch bolts and one end of the unit has to be aligned correctly, there is a notch in the shaft for the bolt. the other end can fit in any position.

the way it works, you slide one end (lower i think) on to the shaft past the finished position and then slide on the other end. once both ends are on you can slide it down to the finished position where the bolt will fit.

if you don't get it right the first time, i would mark it, if you can, so you know how much and which way you are moving it on your second try.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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the car is famous for having air sucked into the system past a bad/aged o-ring on the hose adapter on top of the power steering pump. Look inside the PS reservoir while idling, any bubbles/foam are bad. I'd refresh the o-ring and put proper screw-type hose clamps on both ends of the suction hose. A turkey baster with a hose on the end will help swap out some PS fluid for fresh too. (use Dexron III fluid)
 

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Onyx, 2008 LL Bean 3.0R and 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring
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If you decide you need to replace the O rings, I recommend OEM.
 

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Can't say I'd go with Canubaru's 'ramps not jacks' theory but otherwise he's pretty spot on.

It's not incredibly difficult to change. You can get to it easiest by jacking it up and removing the LH tire. I found it easiest to install the new joint onto the steering shaft first then onto the steering rack. I did it as part of a complete engine/trans/subframe swap and had the column down too but I don't think that'll matter.

I have a couple already pulled if you wanna try a used one.
 

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01 LL Bean
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Discussion Starter #6
the car is famous for having air sucked into the system past a bad/aged o-ring on the hose adapter on top of the power steering pump. Look inside the PS reservoir while idling, any bubbles/foam are bad. I'd refresh the o-ring and put proper screw-type hose clamps on both ends of the suction hose. A turkey baster with a hose on the end will help swap out some PS fluid for fresh too. (use Dexron III fluid)
Yes, I am familiar with this and have already done this repair once on one of my 2 outbacks.
Thanks for the tip though.

no special tools needed. do it on ramps, not jack stands. if the wheels are in the air you are likely to end up with the steering wheel at an angle. it will help the tie off the steering wheel so it dose not spin with the u-joint off. marking the alignment position will not help since you are replacing the joint.

there are 2 pinch bolts and one end of the unit has to be aligned correctly, there is a notch in the shaft for the bolt. the other end can fit in any position.

the way it works, you slide one end (lower i think) on to the shaft past the finished position and then slide on the other end. once both ends are on you can slide it down to the finished position where the bolt will fit.

if you don't get it right the first time, i would mark it, if you can, so you know how much and which way you are moving it on your second try.
Thanks for taking the time to write this up. Getting the wheel off center was a concern which came to mind.

Can't say I'd go with Canubaru's 'ramps not jacks' theory but otherwise he's pretty spot on.

It's not incredibly difficult to change. You can get to it easiest by jacking it up and removing the LH tire. I found it easiest to install the new joint onto the steering shaft first then onto the steering rack. I did it as part of a complete engine/trans/subframe swap and had the column down too but I don't think that'll matter.

I have a couple already pulled if you wanna try a used one.
Thanks for the alternate approach. I will have to look at it next time I have the car at home in TN. I tend to be a put a new one on kind of guy when the hassle of replacement vs the cost of new favors a new one. I have the car with me out of state where I work and only rarely bring it home. I have a small 2 seat retractable gear hot rod airplane which I use to fly home on the weekends. While I have a garage at home that is fairly well equipped, I do not have ramps so that would push me toward trying a remove one wheel approach like you cite. Certainly hope I do not have to do anything so extensive as you did though.
 

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Lol well I didn't drop the whole subframe just to replace that joint :) I was swapping from a 2.5 to a 3.0 and getting some of the nicer LLBean kit that came with it and since the engine/trans/subframe was balanced precariously on a couple of jacks I figured I'd worry about bolting the subframe in first then deal with the steering linkage next.

Don't worry if you get the wheel off-center. The steering wheel/column aren't master-splined (like GM) so you can clock it however you want at the steering wheel. Just be sure you don't get your airbag clockspring out of time (there are instructions on it for centering) if you remove the steering wheel. No puller required. . .pull the hex nut off the wheel, wedge your knees under the bottom of the wheel and apply pressure, pull the top of your wheel with your hands, rock back and forth between the two until it pops off.

After about 2 hours of fiddling trying to get the link onto the column while the steering rack end was hooked up I took a different tack and had it done in about 15 min.

The joint fits rather snug to the column even after the bolt is removed, you may have to tap it off from the top with a long bar, or use something to expand the joint (large screwdriver, etc.)

Major jealous you've got your own plane. That's the next career/hobby move for me.
 

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01 Outback H6 VDC, 97 GT wgn w/ ej22, 98 OBW w/ej22
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since pblaster makes it quiet, have you considered 30wt oil in an oil can. it should last longer than the spray lubricant.
 

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01 LL Bean
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Discussion Starter #9
since pblaster makes it quiet, have you considered 30wt oil in an oil can. it should last longer than the spray lubricant.
I actually got some wheel bearing grease and smeared it all over the joint as best I could by hand with no effect at all. Now that I am thinking about it, maybe I should get an old toothbrush and try using it to spread the grease.
 
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