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2001 Subaru Outback Ltd noise on slow left turn

I have a 2001 Subaru Outback Ltd (2.5L SOHC Automatic) with 324,000 miles on it. For a while I’ve been getting an irregular cluk-cluk type noise when I accelerate slowly into a left turn from a dead stop. If I accelerate quickly into the left turn, or if I coast into the turn without accelerating, or if it’s a wide turn (left or right) I don’t get the noise. The noise appears to be coming from the front area of the car. One mechanic said that it’s probably a CV joint noise, but I understand that noise should be a sharper click-click, yes?

I’ve taken it to a mechanic and he thinks it’s the CV joint but is not sure if it’s the right or left. He said to let it get ‘worse’ and then it’ll be more obvious. Research on the web brought up other possibilities for this kind of noise: transfer clutch, motor mounts, ball joints, wheel bearings, strut mounts. I really don’t know. I originally brought the car in because the left rear tire was ‘cupping’ on the interior edge. The mechanic said this was due to poor alignment. He found internal play in the steering Rack & Pinion and said I’d have to fix that before I can get it aligned. He didn’t seem to think it was related to the noise problem above.

I am tempted to agree with the mechanics who have diagnosed it as a bad CV joint.
However, with over 300k miles on the odometer, virtually any part on the car could be problematic at this point.

If the transfer clutch is producing a problem, you would be feeling some “binding” in the smoothness of the car’s path as you make a slow turn. Are you experiencing that problem also?

Other than the irregular cluckity-cluck sound the left turn is uneventful. I don’t feel or sense any binding or roughness during the turn, although when I do hear the noise my immediate reaction is to back off the pedal. This has been going on for some time. As long as I accelerate straight ahead and then coast through my left turn everything seems fine. I am leaning towards replacing the CV but how to tell for sure which one to replace, the left or right?

At 324,000 miles, I would advise you to replace both of them, unless you are planning on getting rid of the car fairly soon.

Look in your owners manual about putting on a spare tire. It may have some step about a AWD fuse which disables it. Disable it and see if the the symptom goes away. If it goes away then it is the clutch pack.