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2003 Outback, stick, base package, along with a 2000 Outback, automatic, not running due to blown head gasket
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Discussion Starter #1
CAR: 2003 Outback, stick, standard base package, 118k miles, well cared for, driving area contains steep hills, gravel roads and a very curvy and twisting highway (HWY 1 along the coast of CA).

Yesterday while driving up a friends very steep and rocky private road, I suddenly smelled what I thought was burning rubber. I stopped and took a look under the hood. I saw a bit of smoke rising from the passenger side rear engine compartment. I saw some drops of liquid on the boot and also on the two thin metal pipes that have connectors in front of the CV boot. I drove the car the remaining half mile up to friends. Temp gauge was normal, checked all fluid reservoirs and they were all exactly where they should be.

I drove home (which was 5 miles, almost all of it was downhill on a very twisty road). Opened the engine and there was some more smoke occurring from the same spot. There also appeared to be about twice the amount of liquid splashed around the area than when I left friends house.

After searching forums it would seem most likely that this is grease from the CV boot. It has been raining since this occurred and I do not have a garage or even a paved road, so I am not able to jack car up and inspect for a tear etc.

So having said all that, I am wondering if I can drive the car (probably a total of 100 miles) before taking it in for service? Being that it is New Years and all, will not be able to take it to mechanic until Wed. Need to run some errands, but do not want to make a small problem into a major one.



Any advise would very much appreciated. Thank you!
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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14,366 Posts
Sure looks like CV grease splatter.

Limit speed and distance, hope for the best. You may well be fine, but you should also be ready to pull over & tow it if the joint shatters before you get it into the shop.

Driveline failure will also limit your engine braking capability, keep that in mind as you said you're in the hills.
 

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If you have access to a grease gun. Fill it as much as possible.
If not use a spatula. Then wrap plastic around the tear section and secure ends with zip ties or whatever is available. Will last till you get home and then some.

O.
 

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2012 Legacy 2.5GT-L
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312 Posts
you should be fine for 100 miles (I'd take it easy, though) - the joint isn't going to explode or anything like that. How much you can drive depends on what you want to do for a repair - if you are going to reboot the joint, then you want to minimize the driving (there should be plenty of grease in there, even with the leak - the issue is more with dirt/water which might get in, increasing the wear on the joint) - if you are going to just replace the axle with a new or remanufactured one, then drive all you want. It looks like it's the inner cv joint, so as it wears, you'll get vibration/shaking with acceleration. Replacing the axle isn't that difficult - the hardest part is getting the axle nut off.
 

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2005 xt limited gone but not forgotten
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342 Posts
My right side split last year. I was 120 miles from the service shop. I jacked it up, got a roll of duct tape and had my son turn the wheel slowly until about 4 layers of duct tape were secured around the joint. Drove it to the shop and the mechanic said the duct tape was still in pretty good shape when he took it off.

Did the same thing about two months ago with the left side!
 

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2013 Outback 3.6L Limited with EyeSight
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you should be fine for 100 miles (I'd take it easy, though) - the joint isn't going to explode or anything like that. How much you can drive depends on what you want to do for a repair - if you are going to reboot the joint, then you want to minimize the driving (there should be plenty of grease in there, even with the leak - the issue is more with dirt/water which might get in, increasing the wear on the joint) - if you are going to just replace the axle with a new or remanufactured one, then drive all you want. It looks like it's the inner cv joint, so as it wears, you'll get vibration/shaking with acceleration. Replacing the axle isn't that difficult - the hardest part is getting the axle nut off.
Excellent advice! :)
 

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01 Outback H6 VDC, 97 GT wgn w/ ej22, 98 OBW w/ej22
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- the joint isn't going to explode or anything like that. How much you can drive depends on what you want to do for a repair -
excellent advice.

you can drive it for a very long time like this. so no worries there. they usually start to click before they fail.

BUT, the subaru axle you have on the car now is a WAY WAY WAY better quality axle than any replacement you are going to find from a parts store or a shop. so long term, it is in your best interest to REBOOT the axle you have rather than replacing it.

most shop just replace the axle because they are cheap and it is less labor to do so. (rebooting is more in labor and less in parts and some shops, lots of shops do not / will not reboot?!?! i would replace both boots not just the one that is split.) but by rebooting the original axle you get to keep the subaru quality. if you reboot this sooner rather than later, wednesday is fine, the axle will very likely last for the entire life of the car. some after-market axles are crap.

reboot the subaru axle, do not swap in a re-manufactured axle. if your shop will not reboot, then replace with a NEW, not reman, axle.

EDIT:
if you are not going to address this right away, adding grease and wrapping with plastic wrap is a very good idea.
 

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2003 Outback, stick, base package, along with a 2000 Outback, automatic, not running due to blown head gasket
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Discussion Starter #8
Many thanks for the advise. I am going to clean the boot, duct tape it and just wait until Wed. to take it into the shop. Would much rather reboot it versus putting in a new axle. Thanks again, I really appreciate the advise.
 

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02 OBW
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+1 to what canubaru said.

That inner DOJ will go for a long time without problems (unless you get some rocks or something in there!). I drove on mine for a year, maybe more (10k+ miles), and it didn't give me any trouble.

Subaru does sell rebuilt axles. They are a lot more than the cheap parts store ones, but are good. MWE is also a reputable subaru axle re-builder.

Since you caught it quick though - you'll be in good shape having a shop clean it out well, re-grease it and reboot it.
 
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