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1999 Forester 5MT
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone, this is my first Subaru (99 Forester, Winter Package), and I'm trying to diagnose what I assume is an issue, though I could be wrong and it could be just that these are noisy cars. But, I don't think so.

I bought it non driving (but running), and through a series of tests, I have ruled out the passenger side wheel bearing (I swapped out the entire upright with another spare one and no change), and will post other information below.

So far, this is what I've done:

1. Checked for obvious play in the rear wheels (none)

2. Put the entire car on jackstands, spun the rear wheels, tricky with the limited slip, but I cannot replicate the noise, which I think is mostly that I can't get them going quick enough

3. Ran the car on jackstands, which is where it gets interesting: After letting the clutch out in first, I crawled around the car with a long extension and did the old garage-stethescope technique. While the car is "driving", there are no abnormal sounds from either of the uprights, or the rear differential. BUT, if I place the stethescope on the rear subframe, the noise is there, the same noise in the videos, just quieter. I believe the floor is acting as a "speaker" and then sending the noise up through the car (the videos do this better than I can explain it).


Driving conditions:

This happens immediately upon forward motion. Does not matter if the car is in gear or just rolling. Applying the brakes or parking brake makes no difference. The sound gets louder as I speed up.

The car "appears" to drive normally. It goes, stops, rolls freely, all as it should. It is just so loud I can't believe that this is part of it's normal operation.

The videos are below. They're long, sorry about that, but jump around if you have some time to help out. I realize now that the sound is much quieter in the video than it is in person. You'll have to use your imagination for that part, but to give you some reference, even under hard acceleration, the engine/exhaust is barely audible over the noise. It is, very loud.

I know that these vehicles are known to need wheel bearings, but after the stethoscope, I'm just not sure that is the cause, I feel as if that would show up in that test, and that's an expensive part to just throw in there. I also came across a posting somewhere about potentially the center bearing failing, which, given the scope results, seems very likely.

I should mention, the noise is not coming from any particular side, simply "under the back seat".

Thanks for any help you can provide folks!

Edit: I can't seem to get these videos to embed, though I've tried several different approaches. Sorry!


 

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Did you listen to the center bearing while under there?

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1999 Forester 5MT
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7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Did you listen to the center bearing while under there?

BTW:
I did not unfortunately. I didn't consider it a possible suspect (I really thought it was a wheel bearing) when I did the test. It also does seem a little hard to reach with a scope, but I'll give it a go.

And thanks for pointing me to fill that out, I did so, so hopefully that helps!
 

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I think it should be easy to see any excessive movement in the center bearing even if you just grab the shaft near it and give it a shake.
 

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1999 Forester 5MT
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
In case anybody stumbles upon this at some point and uses the videos to compare to a noise their SF is making, it was the driver's side wheel bearing.

Only determined this after putting the car in the air on stands, and removing the driver's rear axle from the rear end.

Car is fixed and back on the road (relatively) noise free.
 
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