Clunking in subaru while turning sharp

I have a 99 subaru legacy outback and after about an hour of driving i hear a loud clucnking when i turn sharp. I have taken it to 4 mechanics and have gotten 4 very different answers. I have had the axle replaced also becouse that is what i was first told about the clunking. Please help i am very stumped.

This is most likely to be a bad CV joint or two. The usual fix is to replace the entire axle on the affected side. If that did not cure the problem, it is possible that the (remanufactured) axle is defective.

i bought a brand new axle shaft. on the side that was clunking. it is still clucking and it is getting worse the longer i drive it.

I have an 04 chev malibu that is doing the same thing in either directions and I just have to turn my steeriing wheel. I was wondering if you could give me the rough $figure you had for you subaru? I need to decide if I should fix or trade.

katie B

I have been told so many things about my car and I do not know we have not detrermined the problem. Could be cheep or really expencive.

The reason that you are getting different answers is that it is kind of an unusual problem. CV joints typically click rather than “clunk”. And they usually make the same noise whether warm or cold. But they do only act up when the wheels are turned sharply and few other things would do that.

Unfortunately, you can’t safely ignore the problem. A CV joint failure won’t kill you. Most likely it will just get worse over time and eventually leave you stranded. But, a lot of things in the suspension other than CV joints that can clunk, can cause the steering to fail, a wheel to come off, or other things you really don’t want to happen.

I think you need to try another mechanic. Ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations.

some people describe the noise differently, when someone says clunk I imagine a one time clunk, normally half shafts make a repetitive rotational clicking noise when turning sharp. test drive the vehicle, when you corner does the noise frequency speed up and slow down, with your travel speed. thats a half shaft, If you turn sharp and get a one time clunk, it’s not the axle.
after the first mechanic told you halfshaft, and the noise continued after replacement (was it self installed, or did the mechanic do the job?), I would assume the same mechanic then gave you the first of four different answers, what did he say then. If it was professionally installed is their any warranty, If I remember correctly their are more than one option for that car based on different factors, the part may have been misboxed and not the correct part number. if you didn’t install the part yourself I would take it back to the shop and insist that It’s not right and that they need to install a second halfshaft.
If you installed it yourself go back to the supplier and order another, explain the problem, make sure that you can return the second one as long as it’s not installed, pull the first half shaft and compare them, are they the same, when comparing length, make sure that instead of laying them flat on the bench, stand them on end so that the joints are compressed.

Does your Outback have a manual transmission or an automatic? This matters.

How many miles on the car? This is also important.

Does the clunking occur regardless of the direction you turn, or does it only happen when turning one way? If so, which way? Where does the clunking appear to be coming from?

What were the four different answers you got from four different mechanics? Are these mechanics familiar with the Subaru AWD system?

If a bad CV joint was one of the answers, what were the other three?


  1. Is this manual or automatic transmission
    a) if automatic find the section in your owners manual about the spare tire fuse and perform the step, if the clunking goes away with the AWD disabled via the fuse it is the clutch pack that needs replacing
    b) if manual transmission I would consider checking/replacing your rear differential fluid especially if sound is from rear

  2. are all four tires matched in wear, brand and size. If not have the circumferernce measured around them at proprer tire pressure and the distance should within 1/2" to each other. If more this will cause the noise.

  3. have your brakes inspected, I got a similar sound and it was simply a loose rotor.

I have been told that it is a transaxle, wheel garding that is loose, wheel bearing, and absolutly nothing. This is a manual vehicle and it started the noise at about 145,000 miles and it has to warm up before it starts the noise. The clunking noise gets faster when we make sharp turns at higher speeds. I have definantly been stumped by this one. The mechanic replaced the axleshaft on the passanger side. I have also been told by other people who have owned subarus that it might need to be hand packed with grease. I attempted to do this but there are no grease zerks on this new of a subaru.

Here is a list of answers to all of the questions on my car. It is a 1999 subaru legecy outback. Manual transmission. about 175000 miles on it. I took my car to machanics I know and to machanics that were recomended by my friends that have gone to these guys for over 20 years. I have not asked any machanic i did not know personally. It is a clucking that continues while making either turn left or right. The clunking can be felt by passangers in the front and the driver. It feels like a thud under your feet. It stoped for a while and has now started up again. I do not know what to do and am getting frustrated.

Manual transmission Subarus use a viscous coupling to supply drive to the rear axle. If the transaxle lubricant is not changed at the prescribed interval the coupling will not work correctly and the drive train will bind and shudder, as you describe.

Try changing the transaxle lube and the rear differential lube. Sometimes this will help.

The transaxle is different than the axle right? When does the transaxle need new lubrication and why is there no place for me to do it. I was told that it only needed it when you got new axles and transaxles. I just had the axles replaced but not the transaxle. What should I do about the machanics telling me that I do not need that done on my subaru? Now where do I go with this problem? Thanks everyone for all the responses I have gotten and thank you for keep on answering me.

The transaxle is the transmission. The owner’s manual will tell you how often the transmission oil should be changed.

There is a drain plug and a fill plug on the transmission to facilitate changing the oil.

This has nothing to do with the drive axles. They can be replaced without doing anything to the transmission.

There is no prescribed interval for manual transaxle nor differentials on a Subaru. Just an inspection of level/condition every 30k miles.

My inkling as posted before is change rear diff fluid and maybe opening it will reveal some clue. Most outbacks are limited slip in the rear wheels and this may well be the culprit.

Lastly mistmached tires in either make/model or wear or wear can agigtate the AWD if enough.

Has anyone checked the stabilizer bar bushings and end links?

thanks for the idea will check this out as soon as I can. I will let you all know what I find