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2008 Outback 3.0R LL Bean
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141 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I know a lot of people will guess right away that the CV axle is bad and that may be correct but I was wondering if there might be any other possibilities. It also sounds like a bad wheel bearing while going straight.

Car is a 2001 Outback H6 with 245,000mi and it's been doing this for a few months and getting worse as time goes.

Symptoms are a constant clicking sound, from faint clicking to loud when the steering wheel is in the 10-11ish position and under acceleration. I believe the sound is coming from the drivers side front axle which is a rebuilt axle I bought from Autozone that has the NTN stamp on it leading me to believe it's a rebuilt OEM axle. I installed it in 2005 about 40,000 miles ago.

I attempted to repair it by changing the wheel bearing on the drivers side and it sounded exactly the same after doing that. While having it apart I removed the axle and inspected it as much as I could by bending it in all directions and trying to feel if the outer joint had any roughness in the movement. But everything felt fine so I put it all back together. And like I said the car sounded exactly the same.

Possibly related, the transmission has been getting worse as well. When it's cold it can take a couple seconds to get in gear. If I brake suddenly sometimes the transmission doesn't reengage for a couple of seconds....my wife has chirped the tires a few times with that. This actually started after switching to Valvoline Maxlife synthetic ATF when I used Indemitsu ATF-HP in the past.

I'm pretty sure it's just a bad drivers side axle but I don't know how to confirm without trying another axle in its place.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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17,321 Posts
depending on how it was rebuilt, the process could shorten the life of even an NTN axle. Often, the case hardening is ground away and larger ball bearings dropped in. Perhaps the bearings are poor quality and cheap grease is also used???

you could try swapping axles left to right but, that is a lot of work for just diagnosis......
 

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2008 Outback 3.0R LL Bean
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141 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
If the steering is tight and there's no looseness in the control arm bushings, or the rear bushing leaking, then it is probably the axle.
The steering is not that great actually. A couple years ago I swapped out the 2 rack bushings with polyurethane bushings but in the process one of the 4 bolts broke while loosening so I drilled it out and tapped new threads and finished the job. Seems to be holding up just fine. But I suspect the steering rack is in pretty bad shape. Around the 10 and 2 position on the steering wheel is a little harder to turn. I've been thinking about getting a rack from the junk yard but then I might want to get the whole crossmember since so I wouldn't have that drilled and tapped bolt anymore.

So if it is in fact an axle. Would the clacking sound with the steering wheel at the 10-11 o'clock position be indicative of a driver or passenger side axle being bad? It sounds like the driver side but sound resonates in funny ways through cars.
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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that 10-2 thing can be the little Cardan/u-joint on the steering shaft. Spray it with lube and if the symptome get sbetter - order a new joint and swap it out.
 

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2008 Outback 3.0R LL Bean
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141 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Just to add some closure to this thread. I went to the junkyard and pulled some cv axles and compared them and ended up buying an original green painted one. I put it on the car and now the sounds and vibration are gone. So from now on I will prefer totally original oem over an oem rebuilt by an auto parts store. I've heard people say that Subaru axles pretty much last forever as long as you keep the boots in tact.
Thanks to everyone for helping to confirm my suspicions.
 
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