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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings,

I took my 2005 Outback XT to the dealership to have both rear wheel bearings replaced due to a recall. I was given a laundry list of "problems" with my car. I declined service and took the list to my trusty local mechanic. One of the issues identified was "Rear Differential Brace Broken". My mechanic could not find this. My mechanic is not a subaru/foreign specialist, but he is experienced and I do trust him.

What I would like to ask the forum is this: is it possible that my mechanic missed a broken rear differential brace or was the dealership misleading, confused, whatever?

A little background:
other issues the dealership discovered: needs both front right CV boots, both front lower control arm bushings & alignment, both valve cover gaskets leaking, all 4 sunroof drains need cleaning [leaking badly](at $424)
I had my guy go over all these things. We ended up clearing the drains ($90) and replacing the whole axle assembly. He did see tiny cracks in, I believe it was the gaskets, but he said it was nothing to worry about yet. And I'm not sure what he said about the bushings. He lubed the suspension.

I have been hearing a rattle prior to all this work while driving 20 - 30 mph, on an imperfect road. Not too bumpy, none too smooth. Not speed bumps. It sounds like it is coming from the front, but I'm not completely sure of it. I cannot tell if there is a varying condition such as higher speeds, but I just got the bearings fixed, so I assume I'll be able to hear more. There is no vibration associated with this noise. This does not affect drive-ability, but it is worrisome and I don't think there should be so much noise from the car. And it seems to have lessened since the recent work, but is still present. Is this the mysterious broken brace?

Thanks to all for considering my question,
Jen
2.5 XT, automatic, turbo, 68,327 miles
 

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I haven't heard of anyone breaking that brace yet. If it did break, I'd expect some fairly major thumping noises from it, particularly when heavy on the throttle.

Lower control arm bushings tend to give out quickly on these cars. I had mine done earlier this year.

Maybe an introduction is in order? Cardoc is a member of this board and has a shop in Austin, maybe look him up and see if he can sharpen the diagnosis.
 

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I'll let the more experienced guys handle the heavy lifting, but you might check that all the heat shields were reinstalled tightly. This might be the cause of the rattling noise. Try revving it in park and see if you have the same sound. That would eliminate the rolling equipment.
 

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First step in my book is narrowing down this rattle - is it front or back?
Seemingly unheard of, but if they mentioned the brace - it's something to look into. Have someone ride with you in the back, trunk (LOL), front, or stand outside the vehicle while you drive in such a way that it makes the noise - so that you can tell if it's coming from the front or back...and maybe even left or right.

Oil leak is probably valve cover gaskets, no big deal, easy job.

If not due to the brace, rattling could be a number of things but is not likely anything problematic. My first guess which has an easy test:

1. sway bar bushings. grab the sway bar and shake it really hard side to side. if it moves that's your problem.

let us know as much as you can about front/back left/right and the sway bar test and we'll go from there.

Axles should never be replaced and always be rebooted. Aftermarket axles are far inferior and fail all the time. You can search any Subaru forum or google and find thread after thread about problems with aftermarket axles. He tossed a good part and installed sub par equipment.

If your mechanic still has your old axle I would keep it for the next replacement. Reboot it and you have your next axle for when the boots break again.
 

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I'll let the more experienced guys handle the heavy lifting, but you might check that all the heat shields were reinstalled tightly. This might be the cause of the rattling noise. Try revving it in park and see if you have the same sound. That would eliminate the rolling equipment.
Also try revving it with it in gear, with the brake firmly applied. Briefly and not too high. This is what it took to get mine to rattle for the mechanic to solve it.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks everyone for your input. It is a relief to know that those braces are difficult to break completely.

I'll look up cardoc and see if he can help me out!

You all rock!
 

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Similar issue - conflicting stories

I took my 2005 Impreza Outback to the dealer for its 90k service. I've been to this dealer for most of my service during the life of the car, and they've always been very nice. In addition to the $500 maintenance, they also tightened and adjusted loose heat shields and performed fuel induction cleaning (with my permission) for an extra $200. They also recommended replacing the front inner axle boots due to leaking (on the phone he said they were torn, but that wasn't in the write-up) and leaking valve cover gaskets. I declined, as it would have been an extra $1000. I then took it to a small shop next door to my office that is very trustworthy. He checked it out and told me there was a dot of oil on one of the boots and a spot of anti-freeze on the head cover gasket. He saw no leaking on the valve cover gaskets. Who should I believe here? I can't imagine the mechanic would pass up work that really needs to be done.
 
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