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subtle clunking and steering issues ('01 OBW)


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11 replies to this topic

#1 sonofbuster

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 09:22 PM

need a little guidance here. i've been searching and trying to narrow down my issues and i'm not sure if i have one, or multiple problems. first, i think my CV joints are going. i had some grease splatter and burning smell a while back and now i'm noticing a subtle 'clunking' when going over bumps at slow speed. like something up front is loose. i've also noticed that small bumps seem to give more feedback at speed. like they're not damped and being transmitted directly through the wheels up into the chassis. not that i can feel every single bump in the road, but the same roads i've driven for months, i can now feel things that i didn't notice before but were there before my issues started. another issue is the steering. it seems to be not as tight as before. i don't feel a mechanical clunking through the wheel, but it feels as if there's an ever-so-slight dead space when driving under normal conditions. i don't drive on the highway so it's happening at street speeds.

overall, it just seems like something's loosened up in the front of the car. i'm trying to get it over to my friend's well-equipped garage, but want to know what to look at either there or on my own. i've read bushings, cv joints, steering rack (?), suspension? any suggestions, pictures, videos, drawrings, sculptures, etc. to help point me in the right direction would be greatly appreciated. thanks!

2001 Outback Wagon 146k

#2 Fairtax4me

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 09:47 PM

Tie rod ends.
Good chance the boots on the steering rack could have split long ago and the inner tie rod ends got full of dirt and wore out. The outers can cause similar symptoms, but the inners seem more prone to transfer motion/noise to the chassis. Check all, and check the ball joints as well. They're easy to check even with just a jack.

#3 sonofbuster

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 08:59 PM

Tie rod ends.
Good chance the boots on the steering rack could have split long ago and the inner tie rod ends got full of dirt and wore out. The outers can cause similar symptoms, but the inners seem more prone to transfer motion/noise to the chassis. Check all, and check the ball joints as well. They're easy to check even with just a jack.

i know it's been quite a while, but can you or someone give me an idea of what to look for here? i've developed some brake shudder so i'm gonna pull both wheels off and finally have a look in there to see what needs to be replaced. i've been looking at pictures and have a general idea, but if i wiggle this or that, would i get a good idea of what to target? might swap back over to my No Conditions tires too while i'm at it even though winter refuses to end. thanks!



#4 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 11:01 PM

dig around at opposedforces.com   for some diagrams


Edited by 1 Lucky Texan, 25 March 2013 - 11:05 PM.


#5 sonofbuster

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 07:30 PM

wow! i have no idea what i'm looking at there, but from all the reading i've done, i'm starting to get a grasp.

 

when i got home with the kid tonight, i jacked up the front driver side quickly before i had to cook dinner and tried to see what was up. i was able to get play in that wheel at 9 and 3, but not at 6 and 12. it feels like the wheel is 'floating' just slightly. i didn't get to the passenger side but may try tonight.



#6 Fairtax4me

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 09:10 AM

Typical of a worn tie rod end. If you can poke your head under and watch the tie rod while wiggling the wheel at 3&9. Does the tie rod move with the wheel? If yes, it's the inner end.( Look for the boot on the steering rack to move.) If no, it's the outer.

#7 sonofbuster

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 07:50 PM

so how hard is this type of job and should i do the axles while i'm in there since i have torn boots (but no noise as of yet)? i saw a thread that may have been on this forum that went step-by-step over an axle replacement and it was written by someone who had never done one before. i'm confident i can do that given the time and tools. tie rods don't really look that bad either.

 

any recommendations for brands? Advance Auto is having some kind of sale on Moog right now so may do that and try to use a coupon too. i don't think they have any decent axle brands, though. thanks again for all the help!



#8 Danno

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Posted 28 March 2013 - 03:29 PM

 

This is a pretty decent video of the job.  I am thinking I need to do the same thing.  However, when I checked for horizontal play, I was able to nose the wheel out (with some effort), until I heard a click.  It then became rigid again.  Anybody have thoughts on this?  



#9 Pgh_Scoob

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Posted 28 March 2013 - 05:04 PM

Hey from reading your first post does it feel at times like the ABS is almost kicking on while braking over bumps? Also have you checked you sway bar and sway bar end links for play?

And finally how many miles do you have and have you ever replaced the struts and mounting plates?????

The reason I ask is because I finally had the chance to solve my "clunking" noise earlier today. I had replaced the previously questioned bushings and links due to lay but still had a bad clunk. Today I picked up a junkyard loaded strut just to test, prove, and fix my cause for the clunk which was the mounting plate bushing being worn out allowing the strut to bounce around in the strut tower. Someone before me tried to correct with just a strut and I have missed this call on a customers car in the past.

I hope this helps.

Oh and for checking the front end is definitely a good idea and replacing anything with play. Also tierods are really simple just remember to hit the spindle where the tie rod sits to break it free if its stuck. Dont smash the head or mushroom it out because at points if you do that their really tough to get out.

And lastly go get an alignment afterwards.

Good luck

Greg



#10 brus brother

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Posted 28 March 2013 - 05:33 PM

I know you said this was a new symptom but on my 2000 Legacy, there was an issue from day 1 that caused a "clunk" when going over bumps at low speed. Turns out it was a hydraulic knock in the steering mechanism. Subaru had a "fix" that added a damper in the line.



#11 sonofbuster

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 10:31 PM

i had a chance -- and fair weather -- to swap over to my no season tires today so i took a closer look at the tie rods and axles. i really only get play out of the driver side tie rods but may do both sides if the parts are cheap and it's not too hard. i have to do both axles anyways. speaking of which, those were noticeably loose too. i'm going to start making a 'shopping list' of parts i need for these projects and hopefully document this ordeal project.

 

Hey from reading your first post does it feel at times like the ABS is almost kicking on while braking over bumps? Also have you checked you sway bar and sway bar end links for play?

And finally how many miles do you have and have you ever replaced the struts and mounting plates?????

The reason I ask is because I finally had the chance to solve my "clunking" noise earlier today. I had replaced the previously questioned bushings and links due to lay but still had a bad clunk. Today I picked up a junkyard loaded strut just to test, prove, and fix my cause for the clunk which was the mounting plate bushing being worn out allowing the strut to bounce around in the strut tower. Someone before me tried to correct with just a strut and I have missed this call on a customers car in the past.

I hope this helps.

Oh and for checking the front end is definitely a good idea and replacing anything with play. Also tierods are really simple just remember to hit the spindle where the tie rod sits to break it free if its stuck. Dont smash the head or mushroom it out because at points if you do that their really tough to get out.

And lastly go get an alignment afterwards.

Good luck

Greg

i wouldn't say it feels like the ABS is kicking in, no. the feeling i'm getting at braking now is a thump thump thump like what i would think a warped rotor feels like. looking at all of them today, i can't say that any of the rotors are warped so i'm still thinking it's the tie rods and/or axles. car has 150k+ on it and no idea if it ever had the struts and plates replaced. not sure what to check for as far as sway bar and end links.



#12 Pgh_Scoob

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 06:18 PM

Hey for checking the sway bar bushings and endlinks just have the car flat on the ground and pull and yank on the sway bar itself and on the endlinks.....If there is and bit of play they can cause quite a bit of noise but would not effect steering necessarily unless they are really bad or disconnected.... I drove my 98 obs with no sway bars for quite a awhile and there is a huge difference...but a little bit of play will mainly just cause noise...

For your braking...Is it a thump through the pedal??? Which will be slower the slower you go...Or does it feel as if your brakes are almost dragging or thumping but in your butt????

If its distinctly in your pedal the most likely its your front rotors...Warped ones can look perfectly fine but are still in fact warped..

For the dragging and in your butt feeling is most likely in the rears....

This is not always true but general rule of thumb from what Ive been taught and personally condemned on customers cars has usually been true.

Hope this helps....

Greg






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