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Recently, my 96 Legacy Outback (140,000 miles) started making clunking noises while making sharp turns (usually only at slow speeds, and though it seems to happen less if I'm just coasting). The noises seem to be coming from the rear of the car and alternate sides. The noises were faint at first but have become much louder in the last few days. I took the car to a shop and they're diagnosis was a bad bushing, specifically the R. (right? maybe rear?) End Bushing that is part of the Rear differential support bus. Is this a reasonable diagnosis given the symptoms? Also, the shop said that the bushing couldn't be replaced on it's own, meaning that the bushing isn't sold separately. They said the whole rear differential support bus is sold as a single (rather expensive) unit. Is that really true? Where does someone check-up on something like that (besides a 2nd opinion which I'll get tomorrow). Lastly, has anyone seen this sort of problem before? I looked through all 171 threads in the problems and maitainance website and didn't see anything that would suggest that this is peculiar to 96 Outbacks. What would cause this sort of failure?

Thanks,

Curtis
 

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Curtis--

sounds like you have 1 or more CV joints going out. try this: in large parking lot, crank the wqheel all the way to one side, come to a stop and then accelerate to low speed (ie, regress to your teen years and do donuts!)....if you hear a clunking noise or something like someone cracking their knuckles, it's very likely the CVs. these are a normal wear item.

CV joints are the modern version of a U-joint and there are 2 on each axle of an AWD Sub. the rubber boot usually goes before you begin hearing noise....look to see if you see torn rubber and grease spewed and flung in the plane of axle rotation. this is a nearly 100% positive sign.

altho Sub CVs don't seem to go out as fast as Amurrikin ones, your car is definitely in the mileage range where it's possible. what often happens is that a rock or something hits the old, fatigued rubber boot and tears it....then the grease goes out and water and dirt come in, with predictable results for the actual metal parts of the joint. it's usually always the outer ones that go, i'd guess due to flexing further and being more exposed to damage than the inner (nearest the transaxle) ones.

lots of outfits rebuild the axle shafts and sell the complete units, and this is usu the cheapest long term solution. far cheaper than yr mechanic's labor to do it himself.

altho this may not be the problem, i'd definitely eliminate it b4 looking at more expensive possibilities. one of the few items that you can do decent diagnosis on even if yer not mechanically fixated, er, inclined.

bw
 

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Tokyo's between my toes
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I agree. And you should be able to crawl under the back end and look around without lifting the car. Check for any obvious damage like a torn CV boot or a cracked bushing.

If you have to buy the whole differential carrier, you might consider a junkyard unit.
 

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I guess you like the bushings diagnosis.

My 98 OB 137,000 miles had a clunking in the rear as I turned at low speeds, but it was Transmission Binding. For $1300 they replaced some rings and gaskets (or otherwise performed magic), and that solved the problem.

Ouch, but I like my OB.

--Mark
 

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Tokyo's between my toes
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Maybe we should ask, does it only happen on turns or can it be induced in a straight line on some washboard road? Does it happen when turning at a dead slow crawl, like when parking?


mccuistion said:

My 98 OB 137,000 miles had a clunking in the rear as I turned at low speeds, but it was Transmission Binding.
--Mark
My mother had a new 1977 LeSabre that would grab and lurch the front end side to side when turning very sharply and slowly. On repeated complaints, the dealer picked at the front end for years (well, they let her drive it, too) before someone figured out that the limited-slip rear end was binding.

Their fix was to replace the rear axle $$$ but in retrospect, I've learned that there is a tube of additive that can be squirted into the differential to increase the allowed slip.

That Buick sat through Hurricane Andrew in Miami BTW.
 

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Sharp turns and it clunks from the rear huh?.. At the dealership, first thing we do is perform a rear diff service by chaning the diff fluid.

So I'd start there..

My wife's 2k OB is starting to do that too..
 

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This has been happening to my 96 outback also. It happens really hard when I am turning slow. It sounds as if the back axle or differential is clunking. Could this be the differential? Or, would it be a problem with the AWD (or is that the same thing?) This problem has been progressively getting worse. Does anyone think that I might be able to fix this? I am moderate at car repairs. Another thing, I bought my car 3 years ago w/ 86,000 on it. I am now at 140,000. I have not changed the timing belt yet, and I don't know if it was done before I got the car. Is this bad? I am expecting that it is. When I change my belt, should I change all of mycomponents? (pulley, etc...) Feel free to write me. I have loved my OB and I want to keep it alive. [email protected]
 

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Tokyo's between my toes
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If the belt is at least that old and probably older, then you should swap it out for the safety of the engine. Other things to do at the same time would be the oil seals at the crank and cams, and the seals on the water and oil pumps (or possibly replace the water pump), the tensioner(s) and the accessory drive belts if they show any cracking on their insides. Pulleys should be OK, but inspect them.

BTW you can get some idea of the amount of age and wear on the timing belt by the amount of rubbery dust on the inside of the belt cover.
 

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Tokyo's between my toes
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I've never bought anything online but a lot of people get car parts that way. I don't know a total figure for all that I mentioned, but that's basically an outline of what is known to fail frequently (like the crank oil seal) and some "while you're in there" items that you could consider servicing before they fail, just to save the potential expense of having to go back in there - the water pump is a good example.

Sounds like your timing belt might be rather old, and since this is an "interference" engine, the valves and pistons will collide if it spins without a belt turning the cams $$$$$$$$
 
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