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Clunking when turning


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25 replies to this topic

#1 anand

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 03:23 PM

I have a 1999 Outback Sport with a 5 speed manual transmission that makes a terrible clunking noise when making tight turns. This only happens when the car is nice and warmed up. It does not do it when the car is just stated. I did a search of the boards and found the phrase "Torque bind" - is this torque bind? My main concern is how much will this cost to fix. Am I going to be out $1500?

#2 alias20035

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 07:48 PM

I don't think its torque bind, since torque bind will occur turning left as well.

Your car is a 5MT with a viscous coupled center diff. Only the 4EAT models suffer from torque bind. At worst your locking center diff will lose its locking capability and then you may end up in a situation where all power may go to a single wheel instead of two (or three if you have an LSD in the rear).

Also torque bind is not a clunk, it is a "rumble" like vibration and the car will feel like the brakes are applied when turning tight corners.

I would suggest that you check the following:

1. tire pressures (probably not any problem, but humour me)
2. ball joints
3. tie rod joints (inner and outer)
4. steering rack (for play) (all Subaru steering racks will clunk a bit though)
5. Spring/strut assembly. There is a rubber gasket (I don't know if their called gaskets, but I think you will know what I mean) on the lower spring cup, sometimes these wear out or come out of place. Some Subaru's have lower rubber gaskets and upper gaskets, and some have none at all. A while back Legacy's were recalled to install a gasket to prevent this clunk.
6. exhaust system loose? or heat shields?
7. engine and transmission mounts
8. sway bar bushings and end links

If the sway bar bushings are the originals, there are definitely worn out as the seem to last at most 3 years. When the bushings wear out you will get clunks in turns, and not always when turning in both directions. You will also note that if you drive one of the front wheels of a speed bump (instead of both) you will get a clunk. There are two bushings costing less than $20 each. It is an easy job to change. The sway bar end links can also wear out, but it is usually the bushings. If the bushings don't correct the clunk, change the end links as well. You can disconnect one end link and drive the car to see if the clunk is still present, if is gone the sway bar is the culprit.

My 1993 Legacy had a front end clunk that was never identified, it clunked for over 350,000 km. Every front end part was changed, but the clunk was never found. It was a somewhat minor clunk though.

#3 anand

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 07:58 AM

alias20035, thanks for your reply. Sorry if I did not mention it but the car makes the noise when I make a sharp right or left turn. The tire pressure was the first thing I checked and that seems ok.

It only happens after the car is nice and warm which made me think about the tires or tranny/AWD system. I have an appointment with a local subaru dealer and will see what they say.

#4 Lesbaru

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 05:17 PM

Wheel bearing/ hub/ ball joint!!!! (that's my vote) My 96 Legacy was making some spiffy "clunk" noises on turns (and ONLY after it was warm) after a baaaaaad independent mechanic destroyed my hub and messed up my ball joint. You could peel the dang wheel away from my car with one arm (and thereby reproduce the "clunk") because that's what was happening when I turned corners!

I hope you get it checked out soon!

#5 alias20035

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 08:53 PM

Originally posted by anand
alias20035, thanks for your reply. Sorry if I did not mention it but the car makes the noise when I make a sharp right or left turn. The tire pressure was the first thing I checked and that seems ok.

It only happens after the car is nice and warm which made me think about the tires or tranny/AWD system. I have an appointment with a local subaru dealer and will see what they say.



If the dealer wants to tear the transmission apart to change the viscous coupling, verify that they have fully investigated all other options. Vicsous couplings DO NOT clunk (at least I have never known them too).

I am placing my bets on the sway bar bushings as they are such a common problem. And ball joint problems are mostly a one sided issue. I would try the straight line one wheel over a speed bump test. If it clunks the sway bar bushings are shot (well at least 90% of the time).

It is possible that you ball joints are also worn, as you are past the normal replacement mileage for them (80-100K miles). Subaru tie rods are fit for a Mack truck, with very few problems. Subaru steering racks always clunk a bit, but the dealer might note that the steering rack clunk is a little excessive.

I have never seen a hot/cold problem related to ball joints/hub assembly. But I have seen cracked hubs that are due to mechanics using torches to remove the ball joint assembly or an impact wrench to tighten the ball joint retention bolt.

I would personally like to whack every mechanic that uses an impact wrench with said wrench, as they tend to create some serious problems down the road with stripped studs and threads, and in some cases broken/cracked components. I find that most mechanics dial there impact wrenches to the max (usually 200-250 ft lbs), which is not needed on any bolt that I know of.

I have never needed an impact wrench to do any work on my Subaru's and I have had them almost completely apart. I have occasioanally been know to use a big mallet and slide hammer though! I hate those darn 32/36 mm punch in locking axle nuts....

#6 anand

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 09:48 PM

Thanks again. My fear is the tranny as there is a hot/cold factor. I take it in on monday and will tell you guys what they tell me!

#7 tcspeer

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Posted 22 November 2003 - 11:39 PM

Check the rubber boots on the c.v. joints is they are tore up then it could be your c.v. joint are bad in the axle. when the boot goes the grease goes and the joint want last long without grease.

#8 alias20035

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 12:27 AM

Originally posted by tcspeer
Check the rubber boots on the c.v. joints is they are tore up then it could be your c.v. joint are bad in the axle. when the boot goes the grease goes and the joint want last long without grease.



The CV joints will go "clack - clack - clack" if they are bad. Is the sound a repetive constant clacking sound when accelerating? Or a non repetitive clunk as I understood it?

When CV joints go bad they clack when accelerating through tight corners, and as they get worse the clacking gets worse and more frequent. And the clacking can be temperature related.

You are at the age where CV joints start to wear out, and you should have had to replaced a few CV rubber boots by now (they last maybe four years up front, I've never gotton more than 3.5 years out of mine).

Good point tcspeer.

We'll know on Monday.....

As for the transmission/AWD system, there is VERY LITTLE chance that something is wrong there. The 5MT is totally immune from the common torque bind problem that everyone worries about and any transmission problem will be a grinding, or rumble like vibration and sound, not clunking as described (unless it is a bad tranny mount).

#9 anand

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 09:12 AM

When turning the sound is repetative and dependent upon speed. The sound only comes when going less than 15 MPH. But, below that, the noise is repetative and almost sounds like it is going through a rotation. Does that make sense? This is a reason I first thought about the tires but they seem to be OK.

#10 DerFahrer

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Posted 23 November 2003 - 02:32 PM

I'll bet it's axles... A balljoint or other such suspension component clunks once when a sharp force is applied to it, like hitting the gas, or slamming on the brakes, or hitting a bump... If it was repetitive, your whole suspension would be shaking and your car would do WAY more than just "clunk" ;)

#11 anand

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 02:06 PM

Well, thanks to all that replied. At first, the mechanics at the local subaru dealer could not identify the problem when I left the car with them. So I finally took the car to them when I was having an issue. The mechanic said it was a really bad case or torque bind - one of the worst cases he has seen and the first on a 5 speed manual from the original owner. Said it would be a minimum of $1000 to just open it up and it could go from there. Great. Hate to say it, but this may just turn me off to buying another Subaru in the future.

#12 Setright

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 03:19 PM

What? It sounds like a perfectly normal CV joint failure.

Torque bind issues on a 5MT??? Sounds very suspicious to me. Has someone been "performing" hand brake turns with the car?

#13 anand

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 04:37 PM

I wish it was something else as well. Has anybody here heard of torque bind on a manual tranny? The guy seemed pretty sure about it - I even mentioned that I thought that torque bind was only associated with Automatic transmissions (he said that was not true). Handbrake turns? No but I drove the car with the donut wheel for ~40 miles (I never went about 50 MPH) and he said that may have caused it. If that is the case, why would the include a donut wheel in the first place?

#14 Lesbaru

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 09:31 PM

Well, I drove more miles than that (around 60) at freeway speeds with no problem. I have a MT 96 Legacy.

Is there another mechanic you can take it to? I agree with a couple of the other posts, it sounds like you have the symptoms my uncle had me check for when he suspected I had CV problems with my car.

#15 DerFahrer

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Posted 31 December 2003 - 01:13 AM

Tell that dealer to shove it up their !@#$%$!!! In fact, I would report him to SOA if I dealt with them...

As Alias said, torque bind does NOT happen to MT AWD transmissions. The donut wheel will not ruin the viscous coupling as long as you change it in a reasonable amount of time. 40 miles is perfectly reasonable...

It has to be an axle. Repetitive and speed-dependant say it right there.

But what would help immensely is if you tell us where the clunk is coming from ;) ...

#16 BlueTrain

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Posted 31 December 2003 - 01:21 AM

please go to another mechanic. maybe 2 or 3 more. at least get some different opinions before you throw down some serious coin. GOOD LUCK..

#17 Setright

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Posted 31 December 2003 - 02:53 AM

The donut spare thing is NOT a problem. The side-to-diff might have been running a little warmer than normal, since it had to accomodate a speed difference. The center diff would only come into play if BOTH wheels on one axle were too small. That would mean different speeds front to rear.

#18 intrigueing

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Posted 31 December 2003 - 08:17 AM

How does the trans fluid level and quality look? I tend to agree it does not sound like a trans problem, and it seems the dealer is full of it - get another opinion.

#19 anand

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Posted 31 December 2003 - 09:39 AM

Well, it is had to determine where the knock/clunk is comeing from. It always felt like it was comeing from the tires - in fact it feels like driving on a flat tire. I am going to call around and see if I can find some other opinions. Thanks!

#20 anand

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Posted 06 January 2004 - 05:24 PM

Well, it turns out I need a new rear Diff. $1100 bucks. In addition, I need a new Cat convertor which couild have been covered by warrenty (under 80k) but no one gave me any indication so I kept pushing it off. The car has 80,330 miles on it. I think I am going to cry...my way to a Honda dealer.

#21 WagonsOnly

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 02:06 AM

HOW much? Try some other dealers/specialists first, especially salvage operations that specialize in foreign/Japanese cars, if there are any in your area.

And if you haven't been to another mechanic, make sure it isn't anything else first. (CV axle, etc.) I have never had a problem with the rear end, result in a "clunking" from the front. Something isn't quite right here.

#22 Alan Phillips

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Posted 22 January 2004 - 10:46 PM

I was having a strange clunking/binding sound only when my 2000 Outback was warmed up and I turned right. I noticed that my rack boot was torn on the pasenger side. Inspecting it I further found that it had slipped off of it's proper position and down onto the inner tie rod. It was evident it had been down there for some time by the looks of things.
The pinching of the tie rod obviously tore the boot. The retaining clip(that did a poor job) and the end of the boot were binding in the tie rod joint making the strange noise. Repacking the tie rod with grease and zip tying the rack boot end and it doesn't make the noise anymore.
Previous to discovering this I did take my sway bar bushings out and lube with ample silicon grease, but that was not the culprit. I actually had just replaced the sway bar because it broke. I am with you guys that the dealer should fork over cash for the bar. Especially when it happens in a parking lot.

#23 Tooth

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Posted 13 February 2004 - 01:17 PM

I've recently experienced this "clunking" noise when making sharp right turns at low to medium speeds.

I recently had my tranny rebuilt (99 Legacy 4EAT with 90,000 miles) and never noticed the clunking until after the rebuild.

If I'm making a steady and winding right turn, I hear a continuous clunking/thumping sound. After I straighten the wheel, no clunking.

Doesn't make this noise any other time.

Sounds like the noise is coming from the back of the car.

Could the culprit be tranny mounts or rear differential?

#24 Rooskie

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Posted 13 February 2004 - 05:09 PM

If you need a new diff. , Check the salvage yards. My folks just picked one up for a couple of hundred bucks. ALso, I would fight about the mileage being over by 330 miles. That's crap! Throw a fus they should break and hook you up....if anything give you a 50% deal.

#25 gbianchi

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Posted 13 February 2004 - 07:37 PM

till something really obvious goes wrong then you'll know exactly whats broken? just my .02:eek:




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