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Car wheel clunk
Old 01-23-2019, 04:43 PM   #1
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Car wheel clunk

I have a 2012 Subaru Outback. When I am going at slow speed and turn the steering wheel all the way to the left or right the front end clunks. Does anybody have any idea what this is?
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Old 01-23-2019, 04:51 PM   #2
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A front axle is probably it. I had it happen on a 2001 and I don't think the design is changed any. It's not a hard problem to replace and I bought mine off Rock Auto for around $100 or so. Plenty of youtube videos to show how it's done. One of the beauties of the Subaru is how it was designed to be worked on and parts replaced. Usually the failure occurred because there is a rubber boot around the u-joint where the axle goes into the tranny. You should be able to peer down from under the hood with a flashlight to inspect. Be sure to get the boot at the same time. They make 2-piece boots you can glue the two halves together if you catch it soon enough, but sounds like yours wasn't. An independent repair shop will charge around $300 to install and will take him about 2 hours labor.
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Old 01-23-2019, 04:54 PM   #3
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I have an 2016 Outback and frequently use the Outback forum at:
https://www.subaruoutback.org/index.php

This site has a great wealth of info. Go to the Gen 4 Forum to look for issues related to your year group. If you can't find the answer, just post a question and someone will answer very quickly.
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Old 01-23-2019, 04:55 PM   #4
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Maybe a bad CV joint. Check to see if rubber boot item is cracked.
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Old 01-23-2019, 04:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
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Maybe a bad CV joint. Check to see if rubber boot item is cracked.
Agree!
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Old 01-23-2019, 05:01 PM   #6
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Maybe a bad CV joint. Check to see if rubber boot item is cracked.
That's it! The joint is part of the axle. $93 at AutoZone;
https://www.autozone.com/drivetrain/...46695_0_0_2805



Here's photo of a CV joint;
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Old 01-23-2019, 05:33 PM   #7
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Maybe a bad CV joint. Check to see if rubber boot item is cracked.
That is my go to "guess" on front end clunks....based on experience. That is paying for the repair vs me doing the repair

Also brake pads could be loose in the bracket. But I would give that only a 5% chance vs 95% on the CV joint
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Old 01-23-2019, 06:10 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ripper1 View Post
I have a 2012 Subaru Outback. When I am going at slow speed and turn the steering wheel all the way to the left or right the front end clunks. Does anybody have any idea what this is?
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A front axle is probably it. . . . . You should be able to peer down from under the hood with a flashlight to inspect. Be sure to get the boot at the same time. They make 2-piece boots you can glue the two halves together if you catch it soon enough, but sounds like yours wasn't.
It's almost certainly a CV joint based on your symptoms. You'll probably see that one or both of the rubber boots are cracked/torn (it can be hard to see, it often happens on the inside part o the bellows fold, and you may need to rotate the wheels so you can peek inside all those folds). >Don't< be as lazy as I (and many other folks) have been and convince yourself that you can just take off the boot, jam a lot of new grease through the joint, and put a new two piece boot on. If you can hear the clunking or even a clicking, the grit has already done its damage and you need to replace the joint, along with the boot(s). Anyway, I've heard the 2-piece boots don't stay together very well.



Good luck.
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Old 01-23-2019, 07:40 PM   #9
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Just had a bad one on our 2014 Subaru Forester. Same symptoms. Unfortunately there's no aftermarket part for that year yet so it was $400ish dollars for the Subaru axle.
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Old 01-23-2019, 08:00 PM   #10
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Subaru parts are cheap and they're easily found. Rock Auto has the rebuilt drive axles for $50-60 each.

The main symptom of worn CV joints is when the rubber boots get worn and they split--spilling out the grease they're packed in. When you turn the steering wheel far to the right or left and go slow (3-4 mph), you'll hear them go click, click, click.

If you're getting a clunk, it could be a tie rod end, ball joint or a bad strut.

You might want to find a good independent alignment shop and get them to check out the problem. If taken to a Subaru dealer, your pocketbook would end up being much lighter. Suspension repairs are often easily done and not at all time consuming.
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Old 01-23-2019, 09:42 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone. I am beginning to think it is the ball joints.
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Old 01-23-2019, 09:46 PM   #12
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Clunks can also be motor mounts.
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Old 01-23-2019, 10:06 PM   #13
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Clunks can also be motor mounts.
Car seems to drive fine until I make hard slow turns all the way to the right or left. It seems like a clunk and then front end seems to sway up and down a little. Well, it's off to a hopefully honest mechanic tomorrow for me. Thanks Bamaman
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Old 01-23-2019, 11:09 PM   #14
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Thanks everyone. I am beginning to think it is the ball joints.
Ball joints? Probably not, if it clicks regularly as you turn. It's probably the CV ("constant velocity") joint(s). Ball joints would be cheaper to fix.
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Old 01-24-2019, 07:36 AM   #15
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CV joint is bad, easier to replace the entire axle - had to do it on a few turbo subarus on passenger side where downpipe is close to cv joint

or you could have a messed up front diff - have you been running the same size tires all the time?
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Old 01-24-2019, 07:37 AM   #16
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Ball joints?
I'm not sure vehicles have ball joints nowadays

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Old 01-24-2019, 07:40 AM   #17
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I think it is the CV joints, but it could be a worn ball joint or other suspension part. A good independent alignment shop would be able to check it out and determine if the suspension is the cause. CV joints tend to click and repeat clicks while the wheel is turned and tire is rotating, rather than a single clunk.


The good thing is you can keep driving the car for a little while, it may help to get a better idea of what the sound is caused by. Don't neglect the sound, but it's OK to drive while figuring out what the noise is.
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Old 01-24-2019, 07:43 AM   #18
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I'm not sure vehicles have ball joints nowadays

Your probably thinking of upper control arms and ball joints which have largely been replaced with strut assemblies. However ball joints are still used on the lower arms. In any event they're probably not the problem with the OP's vehicle.
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Old 01-24-2019, 07:48 AM   #19
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I think it is the CV joints, but it could be a worn ball joint or other suspension part. A good independent alignment shop would be able to check it out and determine if the suspension is the cause. CV joints tend to click and repeat clicks while the wheel is turned and tire is rotating, rather than a single clunk.


The good thing is you can keep driving the car for a little while, it may help to get a better idea of what the sound is caused by. Don't neglect the sound, but It's OK to drive while figuring out what the noise is.
Until it totally fails. Then, unless you have posi or true 4wd, you will not be able to move at all. I don't know how the Subaru power train works. This very thing happened to me on an old VW Golf. DS heard the noise and asked me to diagnose it. I took it down to the school parking lot to confirm it in some tight turns under power and just coasting. All of a sudden, POP, and no more motion. We pushed the car 2 blocks home.
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Old 01-24-2019, 07:59 AM   #20
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Clunking while turning sharply at low speed could be a bad strut mount. It has a bearing that can bind, which lets the spring twist as the steering angle changes. Eventually the spring slips in the mount, causing a clunk.
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