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Discussion Starter #1
On my lunch break today I noticed a strange clunking from the front passenger side of my 02 WRX while turning right into my office's parking lot. I could FEEL the clunking through my shifter and it scared the hell out of me...felt like I was gonna drop my transmission. I've been doing some reading this afternoon and it seems as though there are a few possibilities:

1- center differential is shot (God help me I'm broke I hope this isn't it)
2- front endlinks may be worn out
3- transmission fluid needs changed

About 3 weeks ago my transmission suddenly began producing a much more audible "whine" for lack of a better term. I'm not sure if this is somehow related but it may indicate that #3 above is a likely culprit.

What should I try first and how can I start ruling out some of the possibilities?
 

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Does the sound seem to come more from the front, or the rear?

How old are your brakes? I had a clunking noise coming from the wheel area, and it turned out to be a brand new brake disk that was just wide enough to rub on the dust shield. after adjusting the rotor, the problem went away. It made the whole rear end shudder when turning right.

Try driving in a slow tight (as in steering wheel to lock) figure 8 in an empty parking lot to see what motion makes the most noise. If the car has difficulty making a very tight turn (should sort of "shimmy", like a truck with the diffs locked), then yeah, your C-diff is like done.

What's your car's mileage? Consult the manual for transmission oil change schedules. If you're past due, get it done ASAP.
 

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Look for a torn axle boot.
 

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Start with the cheap...get it on a lift and look for obvious things that could be wrong, as SD suggests. Then as Rambo says, look into just doing a transmission fluid change (and may as well change the diff fluids as well) and see if the problem persists.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I just took it out and made a couple of very tight circles in each direction and the clunking wasn't there so HOPEFULLY I can rule out the c-diff for now. I'm at about 150k or so, (hard to say, odometer was inaccurate when I bought the car so I'll just round it up) last winter I had a new clutch put in and I think the dealer replaced my transmission fluid then but I'm not entirely sure until I find the receipt.

The brake comment brings up an interesting issue. For the last 6-9 months I've had a sporadic occurrence of noise coming from the same place on the car when I brake. I'm not sure how to describe it other than kind of a low grinding or at least the sound of some kind of friction. I keep checking my pads and they are better than 50%, the rotors don't seem to be grooved too bad so I don't think a caliper is sticking.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Can't see any sort of a torn boot, haven't had a chance to change the transmission fluid yet, hopefully this afternoon. Today the transmission whine was very NOTICEABLY loud and as I made a slow left turn into a parking lot I got a loud clunk that I felt and instantly the transmission whine went back to an almost imperceptible level. What would this tell me? Any closer to narrowing down a culprit?
 

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You need to replace your flux capacitor :sadwave:
 

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1.21 Gigawatts :eek3:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
ok remember how i said there were no torn boots? :) i may have lied. i went under the car today to locate the transmission plug and while i was there i checked out what i think was the c-diff housing at the front end of the transmission. while there i happened to notice that there were boots on each of the two axle? rods coming out of the housing and they were both torn completely. what now? a simple torn boot wouldn't cause this clunking right? does this mean that a bunch of dirt and crap got in there and wrecked those joints?






https://picasaweb.google.com/113910692298522860338/TornAxleBoots?authkey=Gv1sRgCL-j6dDH35OYCg#
 

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does this mean that a bunch of dirt and crap got in there and wrecked those joints?
I'm afraid so. Take the car to a shop to confirm if necessary. If you require a replacement, insist on an authentic Subaru axle as the aftermarket replacements will save you 70% co$t but may also rattle and cause other issues. In any case the axle is coming off, to replace the boots plus grease, so you can eyeball it to see whether you need to replace the whole thing or if it's OK (the noise isn't promising though and it's the first thing that came to my mind in my initial response).

The axles themselves are not difficult to replace. I recommend using a new axle nut, it's only a few $ and I think the works manual actually dictates it (I've done it both ways with no ill effects but I went back and replaced my one pre-existing axle nut with a new one anyway). You could also look into a new retaining pin (I re-used my old pin).

EDIT: Don't forget to mark or scribe how the strut is attached so that you don't lose camber adjustment. This way you won't have to worry about getting an alignment. Once you get under the car you will see what I mean, it's easier to see in person than to describe but it's not complex.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for the reply! Could you describe exactly which parts I probably need to replace so that I can do some shopping?

I'm also a little foggy on where exactly I should scribe so that I don't screw up my camber...I just paid for an alignment a few weeks ago..incidentally right before this problem cropped up.
 

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OK, so there are two options:

1. The axle is shot due to dirt etc. as you said, and you will need to rebuild or replace the axle. In this case, the job itself becomes easy because we're going to ignore the possibility of a DIY rebuild, and just go out and buy a rebuilt authentic Subaru axle.
2. The axle is not shot, but you still need to replace the boots. This is actually a messier, more involved job than fitting a rebuilt axle.

For (1), talk to dealers and search online for rebuilt Subaru axles using authentic Subaru parts. I think at least one firm provides these in addition to dealers.

For (2), buy authentic inner and outer boots plus a full set of bands and an axle nut from a dealer. Do not buy grease from a dealer, because whoever priced it was on drugs. Pay 1/5 as much and buy axle grease from anywhere else. You will also need to buy a band tool, the type that looks like a fancy can opener, for one of the bands. The other bands are the tap-and-notch type (I'm not a mechanic and don't know the terms, you'll see what I mean should you go this route).

Once you support the car safely on a jack stand, you will pull the wheel and see the strut. There are a couple ways you can go about this, so search for how-tos because you may not like what I like. On the strut, there are two screws you will see. These control how the strut is situated, and by loosening them, you will alter the alignment. Mark these two screws so you know where exactly they were. If necessary look at DIY alignment threads, you will see which screws I am talking about.

Now, neither you nor I know for sure if you are facing (1) or (2) yet, and if you can't tell for yourself whether the axle is shot, you may have to exchange some $ for the info at a shop. Then proceed accordingly.

Incidentally, the axle closest to the street sometimes seizes due to sprinkler run off whilst parked etc., so getting it off can be an adventure. Also, if one side's boost are shot, the boots on the other side that are the same age... well... I'll let your imagination fill in the blanks. Check the other side sooner rather than later.

PS What alignment shop got under there to align the car and didn't mention there is juice coming out the axle boots?...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks alot man you've been EXTREMELY helpful and probably saved me alot of money and time. The alignment shop definitely should have noticed what was going on but I'm sure there were more interested in getting me in and out as fast as possible.
 

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Thanks alot man you've been EXTREMELY helpful and probably saved me alot of money and time. The alignment shop definitely should have noticed what was going on but I'm sure there were more interested in getting me in and out as fast as possible.
You're welcome, and again, double and triple check everything I've suggested as I'm across the country and not a mechanic. Good luck!
SD
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I'm pretty much broke so I need to go as cheap on parts as possible, what exactly is so bad about the cheaper non-OEM axles?
 

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They can vibrate and rattle. I have never used them but have read warnings to avoid them.
 

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ugh...the OEM ones cost THREE TIMES as much LOL
I agree, it's tempting. Consider:

http://www.clubwrx.net/forums/general-maintenance-troubleshooting-accidents/134316500-axel-cv-joint-rebuild.html

and look at post #3 from a Subaru technician and then decide. Again make sure you actually need rebuilt axle(s) as the axle boots being ripped can conceivably be a problem without being the only problem, or the problem causing all your noises. They're very suspect though from the pics and discussion.
 
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