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ztrain727

Intermittent Screech + Steering Wobble Front Right Tire

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2004 H6 3.0 Outback 207K miles

Steering shimmy for a bit now, worse up hill / accelerating. Previously changing speeds would help, but no longer. 

Today, driving on a mostly straight, flat road, sudden scrapping sound and bad binding on front right wheel. Scrapes once per rotation. This was verified driving very slowly. Binding is also what is causing the steering wheel wobble. The sound is disntincly metal on metal, and has an almost hollow sound. Not a consistent grinding or whining, but distinct scrape each revolution. 

Limped home slowly - after 5 miles or so the shimmy remains but far less, and the sound is gone. 

Checked the lugs. All tight. First thought was sticking caliper, but the rotats aren’t warped so it’s weird it hits once per revolution like that. 

Second thought was possible wheel bearing or tie rod. CV axel replaced a few years ago, this is distinctly different from the clicking sound of fail CV. 

Wheel bearings and tie rods are original to my knowledge. 

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calipers can bind intermittently, often due to rubber sleeves on the slider - they swell up sometimes. many folks remove them.

extremely rare but abd hydraulic hoses have been known to hold pressure.

check wheel movement for bad wheel bearing i guess?

basically, if the noise is in sync with tire rotation,that tells you which parts to examine. And, if it is noisy at walking speed, pace the car while someone drives slowly to determine which side the problem is on.

after a highway run, an infrared thermometer might fine a hot hub - stuck caliper of bad bearing might cause more heat.

 

any wrecks or work done to the car before this began?

Edited by 1 Lucky Texan

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Foreign object stuck in there would make sense for what happened today, but wouldn’t explain the gradually worsening shimmy. 

I think I’ll jack it up tomorrow and check the wheel for play re bearings or tie rods. 

Whats weird though is the speed of the rubbing. It seemed more like the diameter of the rotor hitting, or almost the wheel hitting something. The noise went away or I’d make a video. 

One thing that came to mind is a failing wheel bearing or loose tie rod (or loose lugs but ruled that out) could cause the wheel to spin out of true enough to cause rotor/wheel rubbing. 

I’ll keep you posted. Thanks so much for the quick responses! You know how it is losing your daily driver...

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So jacked it up and gave the wheel a good shake. It’s solid vertically (12 & 6 o’clock) but has some movement and a little clunking sound side to side (3 & 9). 

I need someone else to move it while I look, but could this be caused by a bad tie rod even if the wheel bearing is good? 

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I would change both. Bearings can go bad on the subarus but by hand still "feel" solid.

Tie rod isnt that hard to do either.

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Yes, fix both. But not at the same time, please.

Otherwise, you (and the rest of us) will never know what caused the problem.

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Ok yeah I think I’ll start with the tie rod. The front end needs some attention, but it’s tricky timing because I’m building a house right now. Getting the bearing pressed is something I’d love to save for future fun but they are certainly due. 

I was also thinking of greasing the caliper slides and taking a look in there since it’s not too much trouble. 

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When I jacked the car up, it was immediately apparent that the rotor was rubbing from spinning the wheel a bit. 

I had my gf wobble the wheel while I watched underneath. The outer tie rod looked good, and I couldn’t see the inner because of the boot (can I just slide it over?), but the ball joint had a lot of play. Is it possible a ball joint could cause these symptoms? 

 

I took the caliper apart. Definitely looking a little rough. Is there any way to service the pistons other than buying a reman caliper? 

image.jpg

Edited by ztrain727

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You should  be able to get a seal kit and install that on your current calipers. 

From memory there’s an O ring with a square cross-sectional shape (as in, if you cut the O ring it’s a square-ish shape rather than a round shape - clear as mud?), this may need to be fitted with a particular orientation. Do your reading/research! 

I’ve done my L series front calipers in a campground car park before we went bush once. It helps to have all the parts and tools on hand ;) 

Cheers 

Bennie

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11 hours ago, ztrain727 said:

Here are videos of the wheel play. Could this be a a bad steering rack? Or more likely an inner tie rod?

https://youtu.be/sWPNrr8tclo
https://youtu.be/Ts3CpgI-UXQ

These links don't work.

Brake pads generally do not retract enough to detect wheel wobble. If there is wobble it's probably a wheel bearing.

If there is play up and down it's either a ball joint or wheel bearing. A balljoint would not cause scraping of the caliper. A wheel bearing would. 

A bad wheel bearing will cause shimmy. Also check the hub bolt.

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im still voting bearing, but changing this other stuff your concerned about isnt hard or expensive and if youre really worried about it, do it all.

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Sorry, here are new links: 

Was trying to film the steering linkage rotating here. That's what is clunking. 

20190709_114615.thumb.jpg.519f30fd56701dc9f9fe5e21e9270c1d.jpg

Inner tie rod look worn? Seems to have fresh grease...

A wheel bearing does seem logical for the rotor rubbing, shimmy, etc. No sound when hand spinning the hub, but there a slight bump bump bump I can feel through the rotor as it rotates. That feeling could be the cv axle or something else though, can't say. No real play in the hub as far as I can tell. When you say check the hub bolt, do you mean the 32MM nut? 

An 04 bearing needs to be pressed, correct? I don't have the tools :(

Edited by ztrain727

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Sounds like you should start pulling it apart. The vertical wobble might mean something. The side to side does not.

Take off the wheel.
First, pry the pads away from the disk to give a little wiggle room. Then you can see if there's bearing wobble at the hub.

If not, it might be the axle, in any case the next steps are the same.

Mark the cam bolt on the strut mount. Saves you an alignment maybe. I hit it with a chisel to mark it. Ink/paint always seems to rub off.

Yes, the bearing will need to be pressed. Be sure to use an NTN bearing. In my experience they are better. Replace inner and outer seals.

I used to have a shop do it, $90 total, but I bought a $100 press.It could be the halfshaft. You will be able to feel the bearing with it out of the hub anyhow. The shaft should not have rotational play, end to end, by itself.

I use the lever clamp type ball joint remover, but check the balljoint for looseness and probably replace it anyhow. Try to AVOID BREAKING the pinchbolt. Patience, lube and possibly rilling in from the threaded end to reduce thread pressure can help.

I also replace any caliper where the pads are thinner than the opposite side, which indicates dragging, to me. And new pads both side then too.

 

 

 

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So far on my car i havnt been able to accurately diagnose a bearing until the knuckle was free from the car. They can be decievingly solid until you have it free from the axle and the hub is all floppin around :\
I agree and say change the ball joints any way... in can be a PITA if you have a rustbelt car, but get it done and rule it out......

A somewhat simpler method to avoiding pressing bearings, go to the junk yard and look for a donor with new axle nuts, more times than not a new axle nut means new bearing and/or axle.

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UPDATE: I just visually inspected all the tires. There is no weight on the rear passenger tire. This tire got a flat a few months ago and the weight likely came off. Could this be the source my problems? 

Thank you both very much for the detailed information! I already ordered inner tie rod ends because I figure they are due. The car has a tendency to steer itself on rutted roads, etc. Does that help at all?

The caliper and wheel are both off and there is no real play in the hub. There's a lot of rust down there, so if I do take this off, I should know right away if the bearing is bad by spinning the free hub and listening? 

I assume the bearings are the same, front left/right, but the hubs are specific to each side? 

I'll be in the nearest big city in a few days, so I'll swing by their u-pull and browse a bit. I could just pull a good condition front right hub and bolt it on, get an alignment and (hopefully) be good for a while? The car has 210k miles, so obviously trying to keep time/money invested to a minimum. 

Edited by ztrain727

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yes, bearings are the same, hubs are side specific. Don't forget about seals, too, if you go that route..

getting a good used hub might be more cost effective, if you can find a good one.

 

only 210K?? my 2002 Forester has 251K and still going strong. :D

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And same hubs/bearing assembly on the 2.5 and 3.0?

Just checked the tie rods again and with the boot pulled back they actually seem totally solid. I can't budge the hub either, or hear any sort of grinding/roughness coming from it when my gf spins the opposite wheel. Point taken it could be hard to tell with everything else locked in. New small tear in the front right cv axle boot (the axle was replaced a couple years ago). 

Seems the missing tire weight would be a very good candidate for at least part of the steering wobble. The sudden screeching sound, distinctly once per rotation, I cannot say. 

Even though the sound was distinctly from the front right, would it be worth jacking the back up and checking the rears for play? 

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I am not sure on that one...i would check here for part interchange between 2.5 & 3.0... http://opposedforces.com/parts/

I know I have seen posts in the past about touching the coil spring while spinning the wheel to "feel" if there is roughness in the bearing - again, no guarantee that you will definitively answer this question this way, but others have reported success. Theory is that any roughness will get transmitted up the strut to the spring, and the spring will vibrate.

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I put the wheel back on temporarily after a little caliper/rotor/rim clean up. It's as if nothing ever happened. Smooth and quite, no shimmy. Bizarre.

Next I went in for a tire balance and asked them to check all the front end stuff, and they said lower ball joints need to be done, bearing were fine (for what it's worth).

I checked the hub not and inner rotor with a Fluke thermal imaging camera I'm borrowing. The hub nuts/inner rotor fronts both read about 170 *F, and the rears are around 140* F after 30 mins driving, 85* ambient, no hard breaking. 

I can get lower ball joints OEM for just under $50. Is that the way to go? Aftermarket same difference? 

 


 

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those temps sound pretty normal to me. Fronts do the majority of braking under "normal" driving.

Aftermarket would be fine for ball joints, just dont go the cheapest. get a good quality part from a known name.

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28 minutes ago, heartless said:

those temps sound pretty normal to me. Fronts do the majority of braking under "normal" driving.

Aftermarket would be fine for ball joints, just dont go the cheapest. get a good quality part from a known name.

I agree with heartless. A reputable aftermarket brand works just as good as a genuine item for ball joints, tie rod ends and rack ends. 

Cheers 

Bennie

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Thank you, autozone had a duralast ball joint for $28. I don’t have time to wait for something to ship at this point. 

Update: I went for a longer drive today and as I was coming up a hill, going about 55 she was really struggling (more than usual) and upon cresting and descending the whole car was shaking. Not super violent but a serious wobble and pulling hard to the right. No steering wheel wobble and no screeching or any obvious noise which was different from last time. I think we can rule out brakes since it happened going uphill. Cv axle? Bearing but with no excess heat? Front differential? Steering rack?

Also had the drive shaft u-joint blow out a few years ago which has created a whirring sound at high speeds since. This wouldn’t explain the pulling though right? 

 

Edited by ztrain727

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Duralast stuff is pretty junk, ive had better luck with used junk yard replacements tbh.
Steering rack i dont think so, though it could be i suppose... but i feel like you would have noticed loose and free steering wheel, shaking and feedback in the steering wheel when turning, and even a loud vibration in those tighter turns.

Get the car with all 4s in the air and start turning stuff by hand... 
 

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