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Not the CV axels

My Subaru outback is making a clacking sound when I’m turning. A buddy of mine said he can see the passenger front wheel seizing up a little and stuttering when it is happening. This has been an ongoing problem. I’ve had both CV axels in the front replaced and this problem persists. Any ideas?

The wheel(hub) bearing sounds like the next most likely possible problem. Jack up the problem wheel and with the car in neutral rotate the wheel. Pay attention to how it feels and how smoothly it rotates and if badly worn you might can actually rock the top of the wheel in and out with hand pressure. But regardless I suggest you get that taken care of immediately. The problem could become a catastrophic failure in traffic and cost a great deal more than the price of repair now.


Sounds like the differential is gone in the transaxle.


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Good ideas above. Other possibilities: Brake is sticking, wheel alignment problem, suspension/steering component failure.

Does it do this only at very slow speeds and very sharp turns? How long have you had the car and what year model?

I’m trying to determine is what you are seeing is wheel hop (or lurch) which can happen during the conditions I mentioned above and which could be due to their Zero Scrub front end geometry.

ANY CV joint new or aged and failing will click n seize if it is over angled… and Subaru’s seem to tend to develop a penchant for being able to “over lock” their front wheels when turning. Strange thing to suggest, I know, but I have seen vehicles that develop this ability over time usually due to the spindle and ball joint design. Sometimes its the fault of the lower ball joint…sometimes it is due to the “spindle stops” (if equipped) either being damaged or missing or bent. Not all vehicles have these components…so its just a loose suggestion to quickly check…see how far your front wheels are actually able to angle…I’m simply suggestion that the “lock angle” of some vehicles front wheels gets too severe over time…the closer to 90 degrees the worse the seizing up will get…and with the force that the steering rack is able to achieve if you are entering an overlock angle…the rack is able to make the condition much worse. Just a thought to very quickly look for this condition…and then move on if this is not what is happening. Know that it is a possibility…thats all.

Does this condition only occur at full steering wheel lock?

Is the large center nut tight on the axle?

Wheel bearings in good shape? Did you tighten the brake caliper mount onto the spindle?

All good questions Batman…all good questions.

P.S. If you could send us a video of this condition occurring…it would help us help you greatly

P.P.S - If you want to repair your vehicle… you definitely need to stop “breaking” with it… jk

I’m about 90% sure that the OP’s Center Viscous Coupler is failing.

This will happen if…
… tires have not been rotated at all, or if they have not been rotated at consistent mileage intervals
… if there is a significant difference in treadwear from one tire to another
… if the OP has tires of different brands/different sizes mounted on the car.

Are any of those situations present on the OP’s car?

Thanks for the tips and the spelling lesson. The tires are all the same brand and type. They were new when I bought the car in May, and they were rotated 4000ish miles ago. The tread wear seems even on all tires. I will check the BRAKE caliper, bearings, and center nut on the AXLE today and report back.

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All of that sounds good, but if the previous owner didn’t rotate the tires on schedule, or had mismatched tires, he/she could have done significant damage to the Center Viscous Coupler.

Owned for less than 1 yr
Had new tires?
What yr is car?

The car is a 2011. Just watched a video of a Subaru with a bad center viscous coupler and it certainly sounds really similar. I’ll look in to this too. Thank you!

Re that viscous coupler @VDCdriver. Now that you mention it could extreme cold cause some extreme ‘coupling’ resulting in stress on the outside wheel in a turn? My experience with those AWD devices is virtually ZERO.

Well I live in Maine so there is no shortage of extreme cold but this issue started back in the Fall before it was getting too cold.

Not in my experience.

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I had a CV axle replaced on my 03 OB due to a clicking sound when turning and a few months later it started again, My mechanic said that the new CV axle was causing it and replaced it for free.

And I will guess that the faulty axle was a ‘brand new’ part that was junk when it came out of the white, generic box from China.

It was a new one from NAPA, as was the replacement. That was about ten years ago, so it’s lasted longer than the OEM.

Well that was a good one. But I seem to have again gotten lost in the trip from the OP’s axle until now. Well excuse me…

Well, what I was trying to get across is that just because a part has been replaced don’t assume that it’s working correctly if the problem persists or reoccurs. Many years ago I bought a new Saab and a couple years later it developed a cold start problem. The Saab dealer, the largest in this area, worked on it five times and the problem persisted after replacing a bunch of stuff, fortunately all under warranty. I finally took it to an independent mechanic who specialized in Saabs, Volvos, and Alfa Romeos (because he raced them in SCCA). In less than an hour he said that the first part they replaced was faulty and take it back and have them replace it. It worked.