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Discussion Starter #1
My VDC had some vibration and noise when I bought it. I figured it was tires and alignment, so I bought new tires and had it aligned. Before the alignment, the steering wheel was off center - like slightly steering right. Now, it's completely the opposite.

The noise isn't quite as bad, but I've noticed if I'm going around a right hand curve (shifting weight to the left front), the noise and vibration are almost eliminated.

The dealer I bought it from had just replaced a tie rod end, but I don't remember which side he did. He also replaced a CV boot, but again, I don't remember which side it was.

Is it possibly an alignment issue? Would having the shop redo the alignment possibly solve the problem, or should I start looking into doing the bearing?

Is it possible to do a bearing without removing the knuckle and messing up the alignment again?

Also, if it's the bearing, what exactly is needed to do the job?

Thanks
 

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noise is not often associated with an alignment issue alone.

you said the noise is reduced turning right? That is sorta indicative of a bad right-side wheel bearing. (because the forces on the wheels are directed to the outside of a turn, the inner bearings have reduced load)

a 2001 could have multiple worn parts so, a thorough inspection of suspension, steering parts is probably a good idea too.
 

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Do I need all 4 off the ground, or just both fronts?

well, as long as the parking brake is not set, they will all turn.

Just start with the corner or 'end' you suspect is the source of the noise but, nothing wrong with checking all of them.

and I have experienced a severely bad front wheel bearing that had no noticeable movement so, take cardocs advice and feel/listen very carefully. I also have a rear wheel bearing (being replaced now at the dealership) that was roaring and DID move about 2mm so , any movement is cause for concern too. Just doesn't always happen.

I think your car has the 'hub bearing assembly' and is probably easier DIY than the type in my wrx so, try searching here and maybe at ultimatesubaru.org for guides to changing the bearing.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
well, as long as the parking brake is not set, they will all turn.

Just start with the corner or 'end' you suspect is the source of the noise but, nothing wrong with checking all of them.

and I have experienced a severely bad front wheel bearing that had no noticeable movement so, take cardocs advice and feel/listen very carefully. I also have a rear wheel bearing (being replaced now at the dealership) that was roaring and DID move about 2mm so , any movement is cause for concern too. Just doesn't always happen.

I think your car has the 'hub bearing assembly' and is probably easier DIY than the type in my wrx so, try searching here and maybe at ultimatesubaru.org for guides to changing the bearing.
Ok... but... do I need to have all 4 wheels off the ground, or just the front 2?

From the looks of it, Subaru didn't start using hub assemblies on the front until '05, and mine's an '01. I almost wish mine had hub assemblies, then I know I could get it out without the need to remove the knuckle to have them pressed out.
 

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Ok... but... do I need to have all 4 wheels off the ground, or just the front 2?

From the looks of it, Subaru didn't start using hub assemblies on the front until '05, and mine's an '01. I almost wish mine had hub assemblies, then I know I could get it out without the need to remove the knuckle to have them pressed out.

you can lift just the front. Or even just the corner you suspect and the wheel will turn by hand. (I think tranny must be in neutral for one wheel up) Certainly running the engine would require all 4 be off the ground (personally, I wouldn't trust the FWD fuse to disable the rear.) I assume we're still talking about cardoc's suggestion.

I considered doing mine myself but, I have zero experience with it and tools from harbor freight would total $150-$200. parts looked like $90 minimum (aftermarket) so, I sent mine to the dealer. Pulling the knuckle yourself and having a shop do the pressing might be a good option. But if most shops do it with the knuckle on the car, seems like wasted effort. maybe price an indie shop. I was gonna use my indie mech. Then I called and discovered he retired! I'm gonna be charged $539 by the dealership for the rear wheel bearing on my WRX for a reference for you. I don't really know the labor vs parts breakdown yet - and of course legacy/outback might be a little different. Guessing it will be 1.5 to 2.5 hours and the rest parts but, it's just a guess. I may fight for discounted parts pricing, I have no hope of being successful though.
 

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Usually if the noise goes away in a right turn the right wheel bearing is bad (gets quieter with less load), beware, on mine on right turns the noise went away and the left one was bad.

Had to listen with a mechanics stethoscope (well, a long screwdriver) to tell which one was bad.
 

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You can lift one wheel at a time and check the wheels. Have it in neutral so the wheel spins freely. Check all 4 wheels. Have it chocked in the front when you lift the rear.

The front bearings are pressed fit and you have to utilize a press to disassemble and reassemble to insure there won't be damage to the bearing. You can not pound on the bearing assemblies and expect them to last. The rear are bolt on.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I bought the bearing (NAPA - SKF made in Japan) and seals, and my uncle is going to put them in - after he verifies that is the problem. He said there's a possibility it could be the front differential, since he's seen it before.

Question: IF it's the differential, would it change in pitch/sound depending on steering input/direction like a wheel bearing, or would/should the sound be there regardless?
 

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...

Question: IF it's the differential, would it change in pitch/sound depending on steering input/direction like a wheel bearing...?
Most likely, no.

If it is not loose, obviously noisy, or notchy, or hot, the only way to diagnose 100% without disassembly is to spin the wheel as fast as possible and listen to the strut or strut spring with a mechanics stethoscope (improvised or otherwise).
 

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Discussion Starter #14
So, my uncle completed the job. It was the LEFT front wheel bearing, and it had some pitting. He had to remove the axle and all, then press out the axle to continue.

Two of the bolts holding the brake shield snapped off when he tried to remove it. He drilled them out and installed two new bolts.

Everything is as good as new, and he only charged me $80 labor. :)

While it was on the lift, I was shocked at how clean the underside is. There is virtually no rust or scrapes anywhere underneath. Considering this has been a PA car since new, and the 226,000 miles on the clock, I'm overwhelmingly impressed. My '05 "southern" Saturn Vue wasn't this clean underneath.

One thing I noticed was what appeared to be oil in the tailpipe. I find this odd considering it doesn't smoke at all.
 

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So, my uncle completed the job. It was the LEFT front wheel bearing, and it had some pitting. He had to remove the axle and all, then press out the axle to continue.

Two of the bolts holding the brake shield snapped off when he tried to remove it. He drilled them out and installed two new bolts.

Everything is as good as new, and he only charged me $80 labor. :)

While it was on the lift, I was shocked at how clean the underside is. There is virtually no rust or scrapes anywhere underneath. Considering this has been a PA car since new, and the 226,000 miles on the clock, I'm overwhelmingly impressed. My '05 "southern" Saturn Vue wasn't this clean underneath.

One thing I noticed was what appeared to be oil in the tailpipe. I find this odd considering it doesn't smoke at all.

I drove Volkswagens for years ['85 Scirocco turbo, '92 Corrado SLC, '97 Jetta GLX], and I can always tell when I ride in someone's car and they have a bad wheel bearing. The roaring noise is a dead giveaway. VW is notorious for designing their wheel hubs so that the bearing is under excessive stress if wider tires than stock are fitted, and of course, I always did that. My dad had a Golf and a couple of Jetta's that did the same thing with stock tires, so go figure.

-Funny you say that about the clean underside. My '01 LLBean spent 10 years in Iuka, Mississippi, before I bought it and parked it in Memphis [work car], and other than a ton of black dirt that I've removed from the wheel wells, the underside is very clean. I don't have the plastic tray under the engine, but it stays clean anyway. I guess the lifted stance of this car keeps it clean.
 
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