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CV Joint Play in Front Diff


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11 replies to this topic

#1 99obw

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Posted 18 November 2003 - 10:27 PM

99 outback, auto trans, 146k miles.

How much is too much? The CV joints seem to wiggle quite a bit in the front diff. The seals are leaking a little, but the lube level is good. The amount I can move the joints around in the diff is quite disturbing to me.

I can't find much info on the bearings. Is it an easy job?

#2 avk

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 09:35 AM

Are you referring to the rotational play or the sideways movement? Rotational seems normal.

#3 99obw

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 09:49 AM

Sideways movement.

#4 avk

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 12:22 PM

I guess there shouldn't be much lateral play because the side bearings are pre-loaded, but don't know enough to tell if this is something to worry about. The seals and bearings are held in by the threaded retainers. The preload is controlled by shimming washers and the exact position of the retainer itself. Adjusting may be the trickiest part, the manual describes it.

#5 99obw

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 12:26 PM

I just wiggled the CV joints on a coworkers 2004 impreza with a manual tranny. They do wiggle a bit, buy mine wiggle much more.

#6 99obw

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 04:58 PM

Can the bearings and seals be replaced easily with the diff in the car? If they can I may do them at some point in the future.

#7 avk

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 09:20 PM

The seals stay in the retainers and the bearings come out to the outside. There also are O-rings inder the retainer flanges to seal the bearing bores. When an inner CV (DOJ) boot needed replacement, I also bought an axle seal and an O-ring just in case, but the seal looked good so I left it alone. It looks like a straightforward job as long as you don't change the adjustment, but better to hear from someone who had done it.

#8 alias20035

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 01:21 AM

Originally posted by 99obw
I just wiggled the CV joints on a coworkers 2004 impreza with a manual tranny. They do wiggle a bit, buy mine wiggle much more.



The inner DOJ on my 1993 Legacy wiggled a lot more than the ones on my 2001 Outback. I am fairly certain it is a mileage/wear thing.

So unless you have any problems such as rumbling, or vibration I would leave it alone.

If there is a problem with excessive play, the outdrive seal would probably fail and you would note the leak.

In most cases no oil leak, no rumble, no vibration means no problem.

A small amount of oil on the transmision case and DOJ joints is normal, all seals will leak a bit and odds are it is CV grease that you see not gear oil. The CV boots always leak a bit as it is nearly impossible to get the CV boots to seal perfectly with the clamps that they use.

#9 99obw

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 05:16 AM

The car has had a weird vibration from the front under acceleration for a long time. I am wondering if it is due to the loose diff bearings. I am not going to tear into it any time soon, I am simply on a fact finding mission. :brow:

#10 alias20035

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 05:40 AM

Originally posted by 99obw
The car has had a weird vibration from the front under acceleration for a long time. I am wondering if it is due to the loose diff bearings. I am not going to tear into it any time soon, I am simply on a fact finding mission. :brow:



Vibration under acceleration is often a sign of a CV joint problem, along with clacking in tight slow corners.

But I would rule out tires (pressure, uneven wear, balance) before taking any action.

If the diff bearings are gone it will rumble or whine LOUDLY as the pinion gear to ring gear angle and mesh would not be correct. You would also most likely see metal shavings in the gear oil (on the magnetic drain plug).

To rule out the diff you could pop the ball joints off the A arm and the pin off the inner DOJ to disconnect the axle from the transmission, and then check the outdrives for play.

On my 1993 Legacy the DOJ joints were loose on the outdrives, but the outdrives had no play. This seems to be quite normal.... When I changed a complete axleshaft I did note that it fit tighter on the outdrive. Perhaps the DOJ housing is made out of a lower quality metal and wears and stretches on the outdrive insert, causing the play.

Are you sure it is a front vibration?

Is the vibration felt more in the steering wheel than in the seat?

Is the vibration present only when going straight, turning right, turning left? (turning left = right wheel bearing bad, and vice versa)

Any difference in vibration when going straight, turning right, turning left?

Compare the vibration when accelerating, braking, coasting in gear and coasting in neutral. Any differences?

How does vibration change with speed?

Any sound (rumble, whine, etc) to go along with the vibration?

Other sources of vibration:

Do you have a hood deflector? Is it tight, and with all of the rubber bumpers present underneath? The reason I ask is that I have seen Subaru's totally apart with mechanics looking for a severe vibration problem, but the vibration was simply a loose hood deflector. Beleive me, a loose hood deflector will make the smoothest road fell like the worst rutted gravel road. If you have a hood deflector jam rags between the hood and deflector and test drive, if the vibration is gone you need to fix the hood deflector.

Another common aerodynamic vibration is the windshield seal, particularly the top. Is it tight? Cover the winshield seal with masking tape and test drive.

What about roof rack? Are the cross bars mounted with the fat part forward? If backwords they will rumble.

#11 99obw

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 06:43 AM

The CV joints are getting a little loose, but this vibration has been there for a long time. It vibrates under acceleration only from say 10 mph to 30 mph IIRC. I seem to remember a problem with the CV shafts causing a vibration on cars around '99 or so. I really don't mind the vibration that much but if the bearings in the diff are going out I would like to fix them. I get the impression from the FSM that the diff/tranny needs to be removed to replace the bearings, but the manual isn't very clear on that.

No sound. No hood deflector. Definately drive train vibration.

#12 Legacy777

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Posted 20 November 2003 - 07:57 PM

I just replaced my cv axles today. you shouldn't really have much movement when they are on the car. When off the car the inner joint is capable of sliding back and forth. The outer one doesn't really move in or out.




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