My 2001 Subaru Outback is making a noise



I’m wondering what’s causing the noise my 2001 Subaru Outback has been making for over a year. It’s a high pitched sound similar to the sound when you step on your brakes - and it’s intermittent. I can be going 70 or 40. It can be winter or summer. It sounds like it’s coming from under the driver’s side. And sometimes it sounds more like a jingle-ly sound - like sleigh bells - No one seems to know what’s wrong. Not the dealership mechanic or the other mechanic I sometimes go to.

What could be making such a noise and is it something I should be concerned about? My car has a little over 100,000 miles and I hope it get 100,000 more!

Thanks, any insight would be helpful


Noises are fun to find. I wonder if it could be a belt or a loose connection on a vacuum connection? Since it is intermittent and seems to only occur when you are driving it is going to be difficult to find. Am I right in assuming it only happens while you are driving and no when idling? How often, once a day once ever few months?

Frankly I would not be too worried about it.

BTW I would suggest that while dealers are no worse (or better) than independent mechanics, they are almost always more expensive.


The description of the problem is pretty sparse. It can be difficult to diagnose a noise over the net anyway but making a wild stab at it I’m leaning towards an exhaust heat shield rattle. Irritating but not dangerous nor will it cause a problem.

Sometimes the problem can be verified this way. Wrap an old rag or small towel around the tailpipe. Now whack the rag firmly a number of times. If you hear a rattle or buzz (ignoring any thump sounds) when you do this then the heat shield needs to be repaired.
Any muffler shop should be able to check this and repair it very easily if that’s the problem. Hope that helps.


Thanks, I just had the car looked at and assume the mechanic checked the belts (?) but I will mention the loose vacuum connection . . . I have never heard the noise while I am idling - only when driving. The noise has changed, however, from the kind of screech you hear when you step on the brakes (high pitched like a whistle) to a jingle of sorts . . . I had the car in for a routine 100,000 check up, and the mechanic changed the oil (I change it every 3000 miles) and he also did a free brake inspection (said I had 50-60% of my brakes left, which is good) (?) and ever since that, which was yesterday, now the noise is an intermittent jingle, like bells kind of. I hear it every time I drive now, which is most every day - unless I do a quick run to the store - but if I go 10 miles or so, it happens after about 5-10 miles, or seems to. Thanks again. I love the car and want it to last a while longer.


Hi, thanks for replying - it’s not really a rattling sound, it’s more like the sound of screeching brakes, high pitched and like a whistle, although it’s sort of morphed recently into a kind of jingle sound, like bells - but I will take a stab at the tail pipe test.

I will put heat shield on my list of things to ask them to check. Thanks again.


A rattling heat shield can certainly make a jingling type of sound. Heat shield rattles can make about half a dozen or so different types of sounds depending on the vehicle, which shield is noisy, and the reason for it causing the noise.


I will definitely check this out.


Faulty wheel bearing perhaps? Not sure about the “jingle”, but that would explain the whistling/whining sound. And it seems like a lot of Subarus have had a problem with this.