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Discussion Starter #1
I'm new to the forum and searched for CV joint issues but didn't find much. Thanks for your patience!

Starting around 90k on my 2015 Outback I've had some clunking while turning and occasional grinding in X-mode while descending steep loose surfaces. I thought the clunking might be CV joints but they all have intact boots and not a trace of lube leaks. The grinding doesn't sound like any bad CV racket I've ever heard... Finally took it to dealership and their initial diagnosis is several bad CV joints, axles are $440 a piece! They want to drive it with microphones (!) here and there to make sure but it seems like 90k is not many miles for axles with intact boots. My old Mercedes 4matic E320 has 200k on its ORIGINAL rear axles and rebooted front axles!!

Is this a common issue with Subarus or am I just lucky? Could the dealership just be wrong and it's the rear diff?
 

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That seems premature for a failure.



Perhaps not a problem, but, do you frequently drive it in water as deep as the wheel hubs?
 

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Agree it seems premature but it's a moving part. Moving parts fail.......and it was supplied by the lowest bidder.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Somehow I expected more from Subaru...

No, I've owned it since new and have never been in water any deeper than a few inches and even then only momentarily, like when a swale at a parking lot entrance has rainwater in it. Nor have I done any heavy towing or off-roading beyond a few timberland dirt roads. The tire size is stock as is the suspension. I'm not a crazy driver, I got 75k out of the original front brake pads! The use is primarily commuting in a small city and occasional long trips.

If the boots were damaged I would understand the failure but since I began driving in the 1970's I've had lots of cars with CV axles, some FWD, some RWD and two AWD, but have never experienced CV joints wearing out without first being compromised by failure of the boots, loss of grease, entrance of dirt, etc. As I mentioned in the OP, my old MB Wagon's CV axles were going strong at 200k with rebooted front and original rear!

If the final diagnosis IS bad CV joints, is there a site vendor that sells reman axles? I don't want to go with chinaman knockoffs as you never know what you'll get, may go 50k, may only go 5k, LOL!!! I've looked for 'MWE' that I've seen mentioned but that search only leads to more of a race oriented site, 9 inch Ford components, etc.. It's decision time as it's not insanely loud yet and I might be able to dump this on a dealer trade rather than pay $1900 in parts alone to fix a problem that is WAAAY premature plus now I'm spooked reading about the CVT problems on this forum. I really was expecting more from Subaru and was planning on keeping this car , hand it off to my up and coming high schooler, off to college etc. just like the MB before it...
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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Tires need to be identical - brand, model, size and near each other in wear. Not 'just' stock size.

if they want to use Chassis Ears or similar to confirm the location of the noise, I see no reason not to let them.

You could contact SOA and maybe get a regional rep involved, Subaru might comp the labor and let you pay for parts.

But, that's a longshot I think.
 

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'03 outback limited, '01 Outback Limited, '01 Legacy L wagon, '96 Legacy Brighton wagon
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Since you say that it happens in X-mode, try the same loose grades without X-mode - if the noise is not present, it most definitely is NOT CVs, but something else related to the X-mode functions, like maybe something with the center differential. If CVs were the problem, I would think that you would hear the same noise during normal driving while decelerating.



Genuine Subaru axles can be had from Subaruonlineparts for $340 plus shipping.
 

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Seems really early failure. I would get a second opinion. Possible you got a bad cv Joint or wheel bearing. But multiple axles? No way.
I would for sure call Subaru be cool about it just indicate you have serious doubts about the dealers suggested fix given cv joints go 100’s thousands of miles with zero problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
1 Lucky Texan: Tires are correct size, same brand and model plus have been rotated every oil change, I get my money out of tires right down to the wear-bar with totally even tread wear. The original set I replaced w summer-tread (no snow in FL!) Michelins around 30k, replaced that set with new set of all-seasons in June as I didn't want to wait on ordered tires. YES, that's what they are doing now, Chassis Ears!! Honestly, they seemed a little iffy about CV joints when asked how worn they could be w intact boots and so wanted to keep it a few days, I should know more next week. If it is CV joints you better believe I plan on asking for goodwill assistance on repair!

Richard Pare: The really bad sound is in X-Mode, the clunk/click is in regular driving, turning sharp parking and so forth like you might expect a bad CV joint to sound like. I'll check out subaruonlineparts for axles if we get to that point. There're always salvage yards as well, it takes a **** of a wreck to destroy axles.

Subiesailor: I see it the same, there's likely more going on that just CVs. It never makes the clunk/click just going down the road, always a sharp turn like a bad CV will do but not as 'sharp' a sound as the usual so maybe it could be a diff issue as well. But I think I would hear a wheel bearing, had backs replaced under warranty and it was the standard wheel bearing racket as with any other vehicle, that's not it now. You may have a point with the X-Mode braking, the worst sound it made was the last time I dared use it (500 miles from home easing down a mountain on steep & narrow wet pavement) but it was 1st thing in the morning after starting the car, if the discs were rusty from rain and X-mode was tapping the calipers here and there it could conceivably make a nasty racket. If there was at least one bad CV could that create lash in the drivetrain and confuse X-Mode to apply braking unevenly or?? It doesn't always make the grinding racket in X-Mode, it was worse on wet pavement than gravel, that's what is confusing but it could involve how slippery the surface is, rust on discs, or ? The front pads are 8 months old premium aftermarket, the rears are original but not badly worn, discs are stock. I've also wondered if the X-Mode noise could be ABS fighting with X-Mode trying to tap individual brakes but would this make sense at less than 10mph on a steep road with one switch-back after another?

Thank you everyone for your time and attention to this, I'm going to get to the bottom of it but sure I hope that doesn't coincide with the bottom of my wallet!
 

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Don't forget that in sharp turns, the differentials are working to split the rpms left to right. When X-mode is engaged, it also changes the F/R torque distribution ( via the electronic center diff).
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So I picked up the Outback from dealer yesterday and paid $59 diagnosis charge. After looking at the paperwork I realized the service advisor did a poor job of describing the symptoms and conflated the noise turning with the noise when using X-Mode.

The diagnosis after several days w car:
"Inspected and drove on x/mode could not hear any abnormal noise, could only hear abs system actuating while vehicle is trying stabilize automatically. Possible CV axle making noise on front was also heard (not loud)"

The recommendations:
service front and rear difs: $260 (done not long ago)
RF CV axle: $627.40 (no good will warranty at all)
change spark plugs: $397.95 (also done not long ago at another Subaru dealership, so much for computers)

By the time I completed the 40 mile drive home the sound in the rear end while turing was back as loud as ever, I guess it needs to be hot to make it audible. If I'd have spent the almost $1400 (with tax) I'd have heard very little difference. So now I have a car with less than 100k and about 1 payment to go on it that my wife doesn't trust to drive.

Are we sure Chrysler didn't buy Subaru when we weren't looking!?
 

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You need to shoot video with your phone and capture the noise and conditions it happens under. Most likely its not an issue and some basic thing. My OB around 30,000 made buzzy grinding when braking but only after a week of low speed trips around town. After a free way run and a longer hot brake stop the sound would go away. Then another week of low speed stuff it was back. I pulled the brake pads they were fine. The conclusion was a material mix in the pads wasn’t even after 15,000 it went away ie burned off the oddity in the brake pad causing the noise.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
That's a great idea, I have a gopro, etc so I should be able to capture the sound! Did differential services today but gear lube was fine as usual... Something is warming up, changing dimensions or viscosity, and causing this. I guess if I can't figure it out it will just get worse and worse with time until it's obvious, hopefully not 500 miles from home!!
 

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Subaru OEM axles last the life of the vehicle....I'm not saying something can't fail, but usually you should pause here and think this out.

1. can you verify all of the axles are original OEM Subaru axles and have never been replaced? (they have green end cups)
2. has the vehicle ever been in an accident?
3. have these boots ever been replaced?
90k+ is a lot of wear and tear on newer 4WD cars with steep drive angles due to 4WD. lower stanced cars like legacy's and the ones you mentioned have CV boots last longer due to shallower angles.

If it is a CV, your description sounds like an inner CV joint failing.

4. If it is a CV joint it seems like it's probably lacking grease. Also over time the grease because very fluid, thinned out, and watery.
you can literally clean and repack noisy Subaru axles with new grease and quiet them right up, i have a 100% success rate doing that.

i. you could regrease the joint
ii. you could pull one side of the boot off, clean out the old grease as much as possible, and add new grease.
iii. you could ask someone with a needle fitting to inject more grease in the event it may not have had enough grease when assembled.


*** If it is a CV and I had to guess I would say cleaning and regreasing the inner joint will probably solve this issue. But - this car is so new that probably anything is game here and you just have some bad luck and an odd issue...so I doubt anyone will be able to verify this without hands on diagnosis.

It has some miles on it in a hot climate but that's new and low mileage.


If you do go to repair this absolutely do not buy any new, reman, or any other axles.
A. reboot a used Subaru axle. they're a dime and dozen and despite your current outlier issue last the life of the vehicle.
Car-Part.com--Used Auto Parts Market

Since they last the life of the vehicle used axles are easy choices here. $15-$35 all day long.
 

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whatever it happening here is an outlier so who knows but i've only seen aftermarket axles actually physically fail while driving, not Subaru axles, so I wouldnt' be worried about it.

In general I dont' like to recommend someone driving too long on axles that are noisy while driving straight. If they're OEM and noisy while turning...normally that means you've got 10's of thousands of miles and many years to plan your course of action.

Also sand is *extremely* bad on axles, it's an abrasive and will make axles noisy quite literally in a matter of a few miles, i've seen it happen.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
All axles are original to the car, I purchased it new and it's suffered no accidents, lives in very flat Florida and has seen only limited off-road use. The boots are in perfect condition, no cracks or holes, no grease leaking, no indication of any kind of failure.

The noise comes and goes but is distinct, impossible the dealer couldn't hear anything! The website doesn't like me trying to attach a video so here's a dropbox link to the short vid, the 'clunk, clunk, clunk' is pretty clear.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/cuioyqezdoxaejh/Subaru%20Noise.mov?dl=0
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I've come to believe the noise is in the rear differential but the lube was clear at the last change and there was only a faint bit of dust on the magnetic plug. There's no noise in regular straight-line driving, the vid was making a right turn from a full stop. It doesn't happen at every turn and attempts to provoke the noise are hit and miss, I just drove around videoing each turn to catch it doing its thing...
 

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is this still under warranty (powertrain?)

either try a different dealer and or combinations of the following; take a service writer or tech for a drive, show a service writer the video, contact SOA and request a Regional Rep. get involved.

Dealers will never spend much effort on mystery stuff under warranty without assurances that Mother Soobie will pay them.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
They tell me the extended warranty was over at 60k so I'm out of luck there.

I took the service manager for a drive when I picked it up and of course no racket, at least I have the video now. I don't think I'll get much traction until someone can actually hear the sound so I can't really elevate the issue to a regional thing without SOME kind of diagnosis...

At this point I'm thinking about adding some Molyslip or Lubeguard to the rear dif to see if that changes anything thus zeroing in on the issue. That or maybe just fill it with 140w and trade it in at some unsuspecting stealership, my disappointment with Subaru is severe at this point... But I hate hate hate the transaction costs, their *^&#%% 'dealership processing fee', sales tax, etc!

If it is the rear dif the cheapest route would be to put a salvage yard chunk in it, found one for $150 with 20k on it within 150 miles of home.
 

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you may get better, possibly cheaper service from a highly rated independent mechanic.

post a request in a new thread -someone may know a good shop near your city.
 
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