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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I will buy an Outback 2001 limited on Tuesday, but I could test drive it yesterday.
Everything was fine aside from a weird noise coming from the back:

  • Pitch increases linearly only when driving/accelerating (no change when gears shift)
  • Can cover the sound of the engine but not super loud either
  • Decreases with speed
  • Under a certain speed not noticeable
  • Not present when the engine is on but car is not moving.

I am in Fairbanks (AK) so the conditions are really cold. I'll buy it for 3500 dollars, new tires and everything but this sound is the only weird thing, aside from that is breaks nicely and AWD is engaged properly.

It's the first car I'll buy and I'm a student (not rich), and since it's 20 years old I was wondering if this kind of noise is normal, or if I'm rightly concerned about it ?

I plan to take it to a garage after I buy it just to assess where it is in terms of everything.

Thanks a lot !
 

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I'd suggest taking it for an inspection prior to purchasing...especially since you're a student with limited funds. Could be more... then again, maybe not.

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
 

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Super Moderator
2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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8,043 Posts
I'm not accustomed to cost of living in Alaska, but in the lower 48 a $3500 price for what you have described would be exhorbitant.

It could be a number of things, and the best way to sort it out would be a pre-purchase inspection as suggested by @NoVASAC . My guess would be driveshaft, rear differential, rear CV, or rear wheel bearing.

Don't treat whatever is found as the end of that purchase - rather, as think of it as the beginning of negotions. Anything this old is going to have issues, and the seller is well aware of this.

Good luck, and welcome to the forums!
 

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2012 STI, 2007 Impreza RS
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281 Posts
Most common issues, rear wheel bearing or center diff issue.
Under the hood there is a fusebox, by the battery. There is a slot marked (FWD) that has no fuse, put any fuse (any Amp rating) in there and test drive again.
When the fuse is in the car will have a dash light, FWD, and it will only have power to front wheels.
If the noise stops, its the beginning of center diff failure
 

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01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
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16,132 Posts
That gen car still sells for $3k-4500 down here in Austin, so your price is good if it's rust free, interior in good shape and the engine is issue free.

If you can take it somewhere so you can get the wheels off the ground, checking the wheel bearing is easy, which is what it seems like given your description.

With the wheels off the ground so you can rotate them, put one hand on the strut spring and spin the wheel with the other hand. If the bearing is bad you will feel the vibration in the spring. If it is the wheel bearing, this model has a bolt on hub assembly for the rear and is fairly easy to replace depending on the amount of rust.

Checking other things while it's off the ground is fairly easy also. If you don't find a wheel bearing making the noise, then while someone is in the car running it in gear, someone else can be under it, keeping clear of moving parts, and any noise from the drivetrain can be determined by the area it's coming from.

Auto vs Manual - If someone ran the car with mismatched tires for a long period, the center diff clutch in either trans could have sustained damage. The Auto is rebuildable by changing the clutches. The manual would require replacement of the center diff.

You don't have the mileage, but for a Limited 2.5 the timing belt is due every 105k miles. Dito spark plugs, and the thermostat is generally changed out at the same time. You would also want to check for oil leaks around the head gasket area, or inquire if the present owner knows if it's been replaced. You can look for yourself by peering down under the intake manifold on either side and you will see the metal of the head gasket between the head and block. Toward the front near the rear timing cover on the driver side, if you see a rivet in the metal gasket it's been changed to MLS. No rivet it's SLS. This is a haggle point if the HG is leaking oil because it's a pricey job. Down here in Austin I charge $1600 minimum for the MLS update and more if machine shop work is necessary.
 

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‘19 3.6R Touring
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353 Posts
To cardoc:
Is that $1600. figure with the motor in the car? I felt kind of bad to force that on them as I coincidentally was due for the timing belt as well (might as well do the water pump while your at it).

Like a previous poster mentioned, we don’t know what kind of mileage it has (or it’s service history) and your location sees a bit of snow annually, right? While the bodies on these Gen 2 cars seem to hold up pretty good to snow melt agents, the undercarriage is quite another story.
And if you’ve got a butt of steel, fine. The airbag sensor mat in the seat bottoms made it very hard, & Subaru wasn’t the only Japanese brand that suffered from that. No long trips unless you’re made for it!
 

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Premium Member
01 VDC, 05 R Sedan, 06 BAJA EJ257
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16,132 Posts
To cardoc:
Is that $1600. figure with the motor in the car? I felt kind of bad to force that on them as I coincidentally was due for the timing belt as well (might as well do the water pump while your at it).

Like a previous poster mentioned, we don’t know what kind of mileage it has (or it’s service history) and your location sees a bit of snow annually, right? While the bodies on these Gen 2 cars seem to hold up pretty good to snow melt agents, the undercarriage is quite another story.
And if you’ve got a butt of steel, fine. The airbag sensor mat in the seat bottoms made it very hard, & Subaru wasn’t the only Japanese brand that suffered from that. No long trips unless you’re made for it!
I pull the engine, remove the heads, clean everything, check the head surface after it's clean, reassemble the engine with MLS head gaskets, all new seals/gaskets, new Mitsuboshi timing kit with Japanese pulleys and tensioner, replace the thermostat with a Mahle or OEM, I do not replace the water pump if it's got the Japanese pump on it. If someone put an aftermarket on the engine, or a "no name", I put a new Japanese pump back on the car. The coolant system is flushed out; radiator and heater core before the engine goes back in. New NGK plugs and ignition wires, or just plugs if it's COP. The intake and throttle are cleaned while they are off the engine, clean or replace the PCV valve and hoses as needed.

If the heads need work, that's extra.
If there's clutch work involved, that's extra.
Any thing else that needs attention, like bad ground cables, etc is extra.

I have a low overhead and don't mark parts up 600%. My labor rate is a manageable amount for everyone; me and the customers.

I've done hundreds of these engines in like manner and it's a day job for me, (less than 9 hours from start to engine burped and running).
 

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‘19 3.6R Touring
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353 Posts
I pull the engine, remove the heads, clean everything, check the head surface after it's clean, reassemble the engine with MLS head gaskets, all new seals/gaskets, new Mitsuboshi timing kit with Japanese pulleys and tensioner, replace the thermostat with a Mahle or OEM, I do not replace the water pump if it's got the Japanese pump on it. If someone put an aftermarket on the engine, or a "no name", I put a new Japanese pump back on the car. The coolant system is flushed out; radiator and heater core before the engine goes back in. New NGK plugs and ignition wires, or just plugs if it's COP. The intake and throttle are cleaned while they are off the engine, clean or replace the PCV valve and hoses as needed.

If the heads need work, that's extra.
If there's clutch work involved, that's extra.
Any thing else that needs attention, like bad ground cables, etc is extra.

I have a low overhead and don't mark parts up 600%. My labor rate is a manageable amount for everyone; me and the customers.

I've done hundreds of these engines in like manner and it's a day job for me, (less than 9 hours from start to engine burped and running).
Good deal!!
 
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