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2009 Outback XT 5MT
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501 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My Subaru Outback 2009 XT has about 120,000 miles.

I noticed a clunk-clunk-clunk from the front end when pulling into a parking space.

  • The clunk *SEEMS* to occur 2-4 times per wheel rotation.
  • The frequency is proportional with speed.
  • It happens in both left and right turns.
  • The sound MIGHT be louder with tighter turns.
  • The sound does not occur in wide turns or straight travel.
  • Axles have been recently replaced, that did not affect the clunks.
.
I would like suggestions as to what the shop should look at please.

EDIT: Timing belt was replaced within last 20,000 miles (probably less)
EDIT: Manual transmission
 

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Twilight Blue 2015 3.6R with Eyesight
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5,023 Posts
I have heard that after market axles can be troublesome.
The Subagurus can answer much better, and should be here shortly, LOL!
 
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2017 Outback, 2.5L, Auto; 2018 Forester, 2.5L, Auto (for Mama); 2005 Baja, 2.5 Turbo, Manual
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798 Posts
Sure sounds like the symptoms for worn constant velocity joint. Was the sound the same before and after axles were replaced?
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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18,582 Posts
is there any chance you've noticed it is 'less bad' when the trans is stone cold? That is, if you were able to start the car in the morning and IMMEDIATELY do tight circles. is the souldn the same? If NOT, could be the center differential in the trans.

bad axle/CV joint or u-joint on the drive shaft is probably my next guess if the the problem is the same with a cold trans.

your car may be overdue for timing belt systems service if not done.
 

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Fresh Out of Outbacks!
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14,495 Posts
I say worn-out front axles, specifically the outer CV joints.

If recently replaced? Dunno what to tell you, check up on where they came from.
 

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Premium Member
2009 Outback XT 5MT
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501 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sure sounds like the symptoms for worn constant velocity joint. Was the sound the same before and after axles were replaced?
My girlfriend says it is louder.

is there any chance you've noticed it is 'less bad' when the trans is stone cold? That is, if you were able to start the car in the morning and IMMEDIATELY do tight circles. is the souldn the same? If NOT, could be the center differential in the trans.

bad axle/CV joint or u-joint on the drive shaft is probably my next guess if the the problem is the same with a cold trans.

your car may be overdue for timing belt systems service if not done.
The sound is not there when the car is cold.
 

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19,239 Posts
In regard to the center differential, and more precisely, its viscous coupler, perhaps have a look at http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/66-problems-maintenance/307762-viscous-coupler-test.html.

Post #5 has a test that might reveal if the center differential viscous coupler is bad. However, I believe the 2009 Outback has a limited slip rear differential; it might make turning the wheels (in the test) more difficult and mask effects of the center differential. An alternative would be to have both rear wheels up, but just one front free to turn. However, we can get to that if you decide to go that route.

Have you tried raising the front (engine off, transmission in P and then in N) and manually turning the front wheels with them straight and at tight turns to see if the clunking appears? If it's a bad CV joint it might show up.
 

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Premium Member
2009 Outback XT 5MT
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501 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I have no facilities to do these tests myself. I must take it to the shop.
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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18,582 Posts
have read multiple post of 5spd center diff failures , all seem to have good behavior cold, then torque bind after 10 minutes of driving. Torque bind may make a sound, but there would also be jerking/bucking in tight turns.

take a look at car-part.com or LKQ for a used transmission. or maybe a JDM trans. might even find one with half the miles of yours.
 

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2011 Legacy 2.0L
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56 Posts
Determine from where came the sound.
Front. rear or center.On an empty parlot try with front wheels i a corner and listen.It is maybe good if someone stays out of a car(into circle).Try also to make a hort video with your phone.Then post it here.
 

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2009 Outback XT 5MT
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501 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I took the car to a local Subaru guy. He said it was the transfer box/gears (not sure which one he said). It's usually caused by improper tire rotation (they get out of size and the wear to the transfer case starts). i.e. user error (me).

He concluded this based solely upon the sound and me telling him that he happens only after the car has been driven a bit, and only when in a turn (not a gentle curve, but say 3/4 to a full rotation of the steering wheel).

He said the last time he had one rebuilt about two years ago, it was $1500.

Does this sound like a reasonable conclusion? For what it's worth, I have always trust this guy.
 

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1999 30th Anniversary Legacy Outback DOHC 2.5L 4EAT, 2008 Impreza WRX 2.5L 5MT, 2008 Impreza Wagon 2.5L 4EAT
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1,224 Posts
If it's the center differential (viscous coupler) that part is about $560 new plus labour to remove and install. One other option is to install a used transmission.
 
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