Wuh-wuh-wuh- rotational noise Right front wheel 2013 Subaru Impreza


#1

I have a 2013 Subaru Impreza with 23,500 miles on it; all service done at dealer, by the book. Brought car in at 22,212 miles for rotational noise in front right tire area that becomes noticeable at 35 mph and syncs with speed of wheel (especially annoying at highway speeds). tires were at 6/32, inside edge ‘slightly chopped’. Alignment was done; right rear toe out of adjustment. the noise remained.

returned to dealer; manager took a ride with, said he heard the noise, said tires (the originals) might be made of softer rubber and wear faster, or it might be a wheel bearing starting to go. he did a visual check of tires and measured tread. they replaced the right bearing. Noise still there.

Returned to dealer, they road tested , heard the noise, ran car on lift and ‘traced to center of transmission’, ordered a Subaru remanufactured transmission and installed it. the noise remains . I was especially shocked at replacement of transmission! (car is still under warranty so it’s not costing me anything but grief and aggravation at no resolution).

I have always felt the problem is at the wheel, but i’m no mechanic. they are the experts. Could it be a problem with defective brake parts that somehow are rubbing or if the lugs are tightened too far could that bend something. I am not a street racer and I drive like I plan to keep the car for a long time!

When I called (after the transmission replacement) about the driver one-touch window not working, the desk guy told me how to reset it (very easy) and apologized that they’d forgotten to do that. I told him that the noise is still there and he said “well, it could be coming from the roof rack” (I have non-Subaru cross bars on the roof rack and a fairing. I thought that comment was lame as the crossbars have been on since 2013 and I’ve heard no rotational noise from them. However, to ‘rule out’, I will remove them and take a drive.

I told desk guy I was going to drive the car for a week or so because conditions have not been optimal with bumpy roads and weather to be completely certain. several days have passed since that conversation; the noise is still there and once I’ve driven without the crossbars on, the car is going back.
I am hoping for feedback on what to tell them to check next.


#2

@SuzanneJ

I would move that right front tire to a different position on the car and see if the noise follows it or goes away.
Has this been tried or done during the alignment or maintenance service?
CSA


#3

Last time I heard that noise it was due to a dragging brake due to a sticking caliper.
Does the wheel get hotter than the others?


#4

@SuzanneJ
I realize you want to know what to ask this dealer next. However, there could be something you could try yourself without them.

Not all dealers are the same size and experience the same volume of service work. Also, not all dealers have Service Managers/Directors that are equal in knowledge, intelligence, and expertise.

Years ago when I worked a car dealer (not Subaru) we discovered problems (and figured out solutions) that developed on certain vehicles before smaller, or less able dealers did. We were a high volume dealer and had a very competent Service/Manager Director and some unbelievably able technicians. We sometimes had to alert corporate of vehicle problem trends, that were difficult to diagnose, that they or other dealers were unaware of prior to that.

Is your dealer a large high volume dealer?
Regardless, I’m telling you this because you can try phoning other Subaru dealers (they don’t have to be very close by), the bigger the better, and requesting to speak to their Service Manager/Director. Explain what has gone on to date. You did a great job explaining it here and seem to have a good grasp of the situation. Phone several (many) dealers. One might hit you right.

You may be given some questions to ask your dealer or you could find another very competent and cooperative dealer that sounds better at actually diagnosing and fixing your car. Many would like the challenge or want to earn a new customer. Another dealer of this description may be within a reasonable drive from your location. For warranty work you should be able to use any dealer.
CSA


#5

I agree with all the above comments and suggestions. If you haven’t yet, it’s time to step this up to a higher level: in your owners manual find out whom to contact at Subaru USA, and do so. A certified letter may be called for here.


#6

@SuzanneJ
@the same mountainbike said, “Last time I heard that noise it was due to a dragging brake due to a sticking caliper.
Does the wheel get hotter than the others?”

It’s possible. Since you want to know what to talk to the dealer about, use Mountainbike’s idea and see if they checked or ask them to check both front brakes with a non-contact infrared thermometer. I’ve done this to check for sticking/dragging brakes and I would drive without using the brakes, go up a long hill (where there’s no traffic), let the car coast nearly to a stop, park and check temperatures. It works to find this problem if it exists.
CSA


#7

CSA , when tires were rotated the noise was still at right front.

the same mountainbike, that is a good suggestion about testing and comparing the heat of the front tires. I will ask if that was done. Can this test be done on the lift? or does it need contact with road surface to work?

CSA, I like your suggestion about phoning up other Subaru dealers. how do you find out dealer volume? There are 2 pretty much equidistant from me who appear to be same size volume wise (mine is one of them); another about 40 miles away that is larger, and another dealer who sells Subaru as well as many other makes of vehicles, which probably is the largest.

Shanonia your idea is one i am holding in reserve. I will give my dealer another chance, using suggestions of the kind folks here. (I am kind of wondering at what point “corporate” will wonder what is going on with my 2013 low mileage vehicle to require wheel bearing and transmission replacement! I would hope they monitor service, but maybe they don’t!)

I am smiling because apparently the possibility of ‘roof rack noise’ is not given much credence here. I will rule it out anyway. :smile:
thanks to all for commenting!
SuzanneJ


#8

@SuzanneJ
"@CSA, I like your suggestion about phoning up other Subaru dealers. how do you find out dealer volume? There are 2 pretty much equidistant from me who appear to be same size volume wise (mine is one of them); another about 40 miles away that is larger, and another dealer who sells Subaru as well as many other makes of vehicles, which probably is the largest."

Don’t worry about the size/volume, call them both. If you want you can ask if they are a large dealer, but I mentioned that because a high volume dealer usually gets more experience with problems than a small dealer. It’s possible a small dealer has better diagnosticians and better service.

You are asking about and/or having the brake rotor temperature checked and/or caliper for dragging/sticking, not the tire temperature.

You should (must) talk with the Service Manager/Director, not strictly a service writer, etcetera. Some of them know almost nothing about cars.
CSA


#9

@SuzanneJ
"I am smiling because apparently the possibility of ‘roof rack noise’ is not given much credence here."

Also, your dealer must not have given it much consideration. They replaced a wheel bearing and a transmission, both of which are a little more extreme than checking for a wind noise. :wink:
CSA


#10

CSA thank you for clarifying what to ask about …brake rotor temperature. And, yes, extremeis the word for the work done. When warranty is in effect, does corporate pay the dealer for the work they do without questioning diagnosis?


#11

@SuzanneJ

The idea behind checking the right & and left front brake rotor temperatures is that they ordinarily get hot when the brakes are applied and both should be about equal in temperature, indicating the brakes are working properly. They cool off while driving and not applying brakes.

If they get hot while not applying brakes, or particularly if the only the right one does, it would indicate that something, most likely a brake caliper (the part that squeezes the brake pads against the rotor) is sticking or dragging (the car is applying brakes, not the driver) and could lead to the noise symptom described.

Warranty reimbursements? There must be specified procedures. I’m not sure how Subaru handles that, but you’d think they’d question those types of expensive "guesses."
CSA


#12

@commonsenseanswerthanks for the very clear explanation. It seems like this could have been one of the first avenues to explore. appreciate your input!
SuzanneJ


#13

Suzanne, the tires aren’t what’s checked for heat; the centers of the wheels are. I recommend that rather than pay a shop to do this you buy an “infrared thermometer” for about $25 and check the temperatures at the center of the hubs after a short highway cruise. You simply point the red dot at the spot you want to measure and read the temperature of the surface. A difference of 25F is normal, a difference of 175F suggests a dragging pad. That’s commonly due to sticky slides. By the time the dealer gets it up on the rack, the wheel will probably have cooled and they won’t be able to verify it. But you can check it immediately, eliminating that problem. Many will suggest cleaning and lubing the slides, but in my experience that’s a temporary fix that and you’ll end up with a new caliper at some point.

The mechanic can and should check the pad wear carefully. A dragging pad will wear out far faster than the other, making the wear on that caliper’s pads uneven between the inside and outside pads.

Once you have the infrared thermometer, you’ll find yourself using it to locate air leaks in your house, the temperatures of surfaces such as your iron, and other stuff too.


#14

mountainbike

At least you stated your belief about struts without incorporating insults, talking smack or questioning somebody’s ability and/or competence :smiley:


#15

Thanks.
Of course after I posted it I realized it was to the wrong thread… I spilled a glass of juice while in the middle of responding and that threw me onto the wrong track. I remember when I used to be able to drink and think at the same time. But my hands are subject to spurious movements now.


#16

mountainbike

:smiley:


#17

@thesamemountainbikethanks for the explanation and the recommendation. definitely worth a shot.
SuzanneJ


#18

I can almost guarantee the noise is coming from the chopped tire. That was my first impression reading the title of the post and there is information within the OP that confirms. The fact that the source of the problem (alignment) has been fixed, doesn’t change the fact that the noise still there because it is being generated by the damaged tire.

So before anyone does anything else, rotate the RF tire to the rear. If the noise changes, then you’ll know.

The second part of the problem is who is going to pay for the new tire - or tires (plural, since this a Subaru with notoriously sensitive AWD.) I’ll bet that the new car warranty doesn’t cover alignment. Besides, would the new car warranty cover a 3 year old car?

In either case, this may be what is driving the dealer. He doesn’t want to spring the bad news on anyone, so he is hoping the problem just won’t keep coming back if he stalls.


#19

@CapriRacer
"So before anyone does anything else, rotate the RF tire to the rear. If the noise changes, then you know." CapriRacer

I’m not saying it’s not a tire problem, but earlier I suggested moving the tire to another location.
“I would move that right front tire to a different position on the car and see if the noise follows it or goes away.
Has this been tried or done during the alignment or maintenance service?”

This was the response:
“CSA , when tires were rotated the noise was still at right front.”

CSA


#20

Won’t be the first time that tires were supposedly rotated but were not. In fact that is one problem I have with my local subi dealer.