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Front right suspension issue?


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22 replies to this topic

#1 92_rugby_subie

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 12:47 AM

So this has been a mystery issue with GD and I.
He has torn the front end apart multiple times and hasnt seen anything.
Ned, my 1986 Subaru GL 4WD has these symptoms:
Uneven tire wear front right tire.
Knocking when turning (very quiet once warm)
Feels loose when driving and accelerating to the left (weight on that tire)
When at full lock to the left, feels like the tire is flat (but its at 40psi)
I know my steering wheel boot is torn on that side, but that is not the cause of everything.

Tread is now eating into the wear line, and although Ill have new tires put on soon, I obviously dont want the new tires being eaten

This could possibly be an alignment issue, but what about the noises and the full lock to the left thing...

#2 naru

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 01:42 AM

Mine clunks on turns too.

It is because of excessive radial clearance between the steering rack shaft and the internal rack bushings.Spec is only .006 inch measured where the rack enters the housing when at full lock(boot removed).

Might be worth checking.

#3 naru

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 02:10 AM

I`ve also seen struts w/wear on the internal shaft that would only show w/weight on the wheels.They clunked.
With the car jacked up,everything seemed tight.
With weight on the wheels,attempting to move the top of the tire in and out resulted in play and a clunk.

Food for thought.

#4 92_rugby_subie

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 03:47 AM

Okay so to a near complete noob...

I need to replace my strut and steering rack boot?

#5 92_rugby_subie

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 03:48 AM

OOOOOO

Got it, so while parked and on all 4 wheels I should try and move the tire in and out? Like just shake it back and forth and attempt to hear a clunk?

If this clunk does happen, then I need to replace my struts?

#6 naru

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 04:38 AM

Yes.Main thing to note is wether the wheel moves in and out at the top.Clunk might be hard to get by hand.I`ve only seen this once.

IMO,steering rack internal bushing play is more likely.
FSM goes thru a measurement procedure,but,you should be able to feel any significant slop by simply turning to full lock,grasping the shaft extending from the housing and attempting to move it up/down,forward/backwards.

#7 Flowmastered87GL

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 10:05 PM

How many miles?? on my old GL the front suspension bushings were so sloppy I would eat tires and the front tire would move front to back. I watched les schwab pull it in the garage once and they showed me how bad it was.

#8 92_rugby_subie

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 10:14 PM

167,880 miles on it currently.

Last time it was on the stand and they drove it, Im pretty sure just that front right tire was bouncing up and down...

#9 92_rugby_subie

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 01:43 AM

Still having this issue... I had an alignment done and all seemed well after that, but Im pretty sure it slipped back in.

Ive replaced both front wheel bearings recently <3K miles and also did tie-rods and tie-rod ends.

Some new info I have. 178,412 miles on him now.

If I have all 4 wheels on ground and shake the car from the front, I can get some light clunking but its been loud when backing out of parking spots or turning close to full lock... I just want to know what this is so when I do the brake job in a few weeks (Brembos! Im excited! :banana: ) I can try and fix this as well... Have a round trip down to Selinas CA and dont wanna have any catastrophic failure.

#10 987687

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 08:40 AM

Still having this issue... I had an alignment done and all seemed well after that, but Im pretty sure it slipped back in.

Ive replaced both front wheel bearings recently <3K miles and also did tie-rods and tie-rod ends.

Some new info I have. 178,412 miles on him now.

If I have all 4 wheels on ground and shake the car from the front, I can get some light clunking but its been loud when backing out of parking spots or turning close to full lock... I just want to know what this is so when I do the brake job in a few weeks (Brembos! Im excited! :banana: ) I can try and fix this as well... Have a round trip down to Selinas CA and dont wanna have any catastrophic failure.

Are the front wheel bearings loose any? Just because they're fresh doesn't mean they're not bad...

Have you checked the strut tops? When I was doing my oil change I checked the front wheels like usual for tie rod, bearing, or ball joint play. And to my surprise, there was play on the right front wheel. Turns out it was in the strut top bearing. And yes, there has been a bit of a clunk in that corner. Not where I expected to find it.

Other things that can cause clunking or alignment to slip is bad bushings. Control arm and radius rod bushings. If they're bad, everything will move around when it wants and mess up the alignment.
If you still have it, swap bar bushings can cause clunking.

#11 Yo'J

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 11:40 AM

I've seen the inner tie rods go bad or not be tight enough and cause a funny clunk too. I had to put the front end up to shake them to find out the stop washer was cracked and slipping. Or, I second the top hat idea.

#12 92_rugby_subie

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 12:52 PM

I checked the strut top bolts and they were all tight... Should I loosen them and pull them down and check on things?

#13 987687

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 06:19 PM

I checked the strut top bolts and they were all tight... Should I loosen them and pull them down and check on things?


It's not the strut top bolts. It's the top hat bearing. It can get loose the same as a wheel bearing can. And it will cause play and clunking.
With the wheel off the ground, wobble the wheel side to side as if you are checking tie rods. Look up at the top of the rod/piston. You'll be able to see if it has play.

#14 kayakertom

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 12:02 AM

I put new struts on my 88gl wagon and it eliminated my uneven tire wear; the old struts were clearly way overdue for replacement. The ride now is so much better than before, should have done it a year ago.

#15 92_rugby_subie

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 02:47 AM

It's not the strut top bolts. It's the top hat bearing. It can get loose the same as a wheel bearing can. And it will cause play and clunking.
With the wheel off the ground, wobble the wheel side to side as if you are checking tie rods. Look up at the top of the rod/piston. You'll be able to see if it has play.


Will check this tomorrow, and report back, thanks!


I put new struts on my 88gl wagon and it eliminated my uneven tire wear; the old struts were clearly way overdue for replacement. The ride now is so much better than before, should have done it a year ago.


I have considered brand new struts as the car does need em on all four corners but I will be lowering soon so I think I will just live with it if its related to the strut as those will come off when I lower it..

#16 heartless

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 08:27 AM

bad struts/shocks WILL cause tire wear issues - not to mention handling and braking issues.

Last time it was on the stand and they drove it, Im pretty sure just that front right tire was bouncing up and down...


this is DEFINITELY a strut issue.

I have considered brand new struts as the car does need em on all four corners


Dont just "consider it" - DO IT!

new struts/shocks, check the tophat bearings while out, replace tophats if needed, full alignment, and I am willing to bet that the wear issue goes away.

Edited by heartless, 30 April 2012 - 08:30 AM.


#17 Gloyale

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 10:41 AM

I would also look into replacing the Radius rod bushings. when they get worn, the rod pulls forward during accel then back under deccel. changes toe every time it shifts. Makes the tire feel like it's rolling under in hard turns.

Shimming a large washer on either side of the bushings will tighen them up a bit and give you an idea if that's the problem.

EMPI Replacement bushings for Mac-Strut type VW beetle front ends work great and are available from any VW/buggy source.

#18 92_rugby_subie

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 04:24 PM

bad struts/shocks WILL cause tire wear issues - not to mention handling and braking issues.



this is DEFINITELY a strut issue.



Dont just "consider it" - DO IT!

new struts/shocks, check the tophat bearings while out, replace tophats if needed, full alignment, and I am willing to bet that the wear issue goes away.


Will do then, may just sell them with low miles once Im done since lowering will come soon... will price out, if Honda coilovers are just as expensive, Ill lower on brand new suspension rather than replace with stock suspension.

I would also look into replacing the Radius rod bushings. when they get worn, the rod pulls forward during accel then back under deccel. changes toe every time it shifts. Makes the tire feel like it's rolling under in hard turns.

Shimming a large washer on either side of the bushings will tighen them up a bit and give you an idea if that's the problem.

EMPI Replacement bushings for Mac-Strut type VW beetle front ends work great and are available from any VW/buggy source.


Will check this today as well since the car is here :Flame:

#19 katienadine

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 02:41 AM

I know this thread isn't very recent but it seems as though I might have some similar issues though I am having hard time figuring out exactly what parts to replace.

I put on my studded tires last week and noticed when my front passenger side was jacked up the whole tire/wheel assembly moved front to back and it seemed to be super loose where the suspension connects to the body under the passenger floor board.

I thought it was a torsion bar, but am unsure of what the bushing actually is. I have checked everything else with the struts, A-arms, steering, and beyond it seems to be just the bushing in the very rear of the suspension system.

Please help

#20 LPGsuperchargedBrumby

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 05:21 AM

I put on my studded tires last week and noticed when my front passenger side was jacked up the whole tire/wheel assembly moved front to back and it seemed to be super loose where the suspension connects to the body under the passenger floor board.



check your rubber radius rod bushes and the bolts that connect the radius rod to the a-arm....if the rubber bushes have worn or the bolts are loose it will allow the A-arm to move forwards and backwards.

#21 mikaleda

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 10:53 AM

So this has been a mystery issue with GD and I.
He has torn the front end apart multiple times and hasnt seen anything.
Ned, my 1986 Subaru GL 4WD has these symptoms:
Uneven tire wear front right tire.
Knocking when turning (very quiet once warm)
Feels loose when driving and accelerating to the left (weight on that tire)
When at full lock to the left, feels like the tire is flat (but its at 40psi)
I know my steering wheel boot is torn on that side, but that is not the cause of everything.

Tread is now eating into the wear line, and although Ill have new tires put on soon, I obviously dont want the new tires being eaten

This could possibly be an alignment issue, but what about the noises and the full lock to the left thing...


I have exactly the same problems you are describing I thought the clunk was something else till now I've replace struts ball joints a hub a c.v. I have a ripped boot on my rack and pinion but on the other side. I think it might be a bushing but I still haven't pulled it apart

#22 88wacaroo

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 02:32 AM

I have exactly the same problems you are describing I thought the clunk was something else till now I've replace struts ball joints a hub a c.v. I have a ripped boot on my rack and pinion but on the other side. I think it might be a bushing but I still haven't pulled it apart

Radius Rod bushings,Top Hat shot..

#23 mikaleda

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 08:18 AM

Radius Rod bushings,Top Hat shot..


Nope I know that my top hats are fine I was thinking control arm bushing




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