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Discussion Starter #1
I'm linking to a 10-second video recording made with my mobile phone. The sound you're hearing is when the car is going about 40mph slowing down to around 30mph and then to a stop. Though the sound occurs at higher speeds too. What can be making that low-pitched rapid wuh-wuh-wuh-wuh-wuh-wuh-wuh sound? I took the car in for state inspection yesterday and the mechanic said there was no play in the wheel bearings. Could it still be a wheel bearing?

Here's the YouTube link: 2003 Subaru Impreza Outback rumbling sound
 

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lets see...
5 years, less than 20k miles. To me, that means the car has been parked a lot of the time or for a long stretch of time.
They may be flat-spotted, damaged or defective. Inspect them closely for any damage or visible deterioration. An interior delamination would not be visible but could cause the sound you're describing. If you're not sure what you're looking for, ask any decent tire shop (of course, you will have to accept their motivation is to sell you a new set of tires).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
lets see...
5 years, less than 20k miles. To me, that means the car has been parked a lot of the time or for a long stretch of time.
They may be flat-spotted, damaged or defective. Inspect them closely for any damage or visible deterioration. An interior delamination would not be visible but could cause the sound you're describing. If you're not sure what you're looking for, ask any decent tire shop (of course, you will have to accept their motivation is to sell you a new set of tires).
No long-term parking. It's just been used for nothing but small errands a few times a week for the past few years. That sound has been present for about six months, getting gradually worse.
 

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How often do you balance & rotate?

Could still be a bearing even if no slop. Jack up each corner and spin by hand, see if one is not as smooth as the others.

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2001 VDC/SC One of a Kind
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Is it a manual trans or auto?

Does it do it accelerating or at a constant speed, or is it just deceleration?

I don't think it's the tires, but to eliminate the tires you can get all 4 wheels off the ground with jack stands supporting it and then run the car in gear at the same speed it does it on the ground and listen for it at the wheels, rear and front differentials.

Bearings can be bad and not be loose. You would hold the spring with one hand and turn the tire with the other and you'll feel it if it's bad. Don't have the car in while you do it.
 

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If it was a wheel bearing you would tend to hear it, and be able to pinpoint which side, more on long sweeping curves. Wheel bearings are inexpensive, it wouldn't hurt to just change them. With the right tools you can do both front in a day (that's what I did last year).
 

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Sounds like a wheel bearing to me.
With some careful listening you should be able to figure out front or rear.
Try lowering the back seats and listening.
After figuring front/rear left/right can be tricky, I had one that reversed the usual rule, it actually got quiet when it was more loaded from being on the outside of a turn.
 

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Front differential?
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
How often do you balance & rotate?

Could still be a bearing even if no slop. Jack up each corner and spin by hand, see if one is not as smooth as the others.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
A steering knuckle was replaced last year and there was an alignment, balancing, and rotation done at that time.

Thanks for that diagnostic tip. To my ear the sound does resemble the sound that developed about 7 or 8 years ago, and when I took it into the dealership back then, they said it was a wheel bearing, which they replaced, and the sound went away.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
If it was a wheel bearing you would tend to hear it, and be able to pinpoint which side, more on long sweeping curves. Wheel bearings are inexpensive, it wouldn't hurt to just change them. With the right tools you can do both front in a day (that's what I did last year).
I probably don't have the right tools. Most of my tools are for woodworking. When I spoke with a local garage they made the task seem fairly difficult. They said even they did not have everything needed, and they'd have to send the bearing out to a machine shop to remove it. I've never done it (or watched an online video) so I'm in the dark.
 

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Pretty sure it's replaced as a unit, old one comes off, new one bolts on. Nothing to send to a machine shop.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
 

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It's a press fit bearing. I believe they changed the front to a wheel hub unit in 2005. They can be a pain in the ass to change. You need a slide hammer and a press kit. Wheel hub bearing unit is easier/faster to change, but the unit part cost is more expensive upfront than a press fit bearing. Either way, a shop should charge about the same for either one. I'm surprised a shop wouldn't have the proper tools. It would be way much more work and time to take the knuckle off to send out. Press fit can be done on the car and with the right tools should only take a couple of hours.
 
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