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2002 Forester Auto
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Need help from the community - 2002 Forester. Wife complained last week that it suddenly pulls to the left while driving, just momentarily like a quick jerk. I suspected the CV joint (since it had been clicking for a while already) so I replaced the axle. Sudden jerking movement still occurs. Generally at slower speeds although I have felt it as high as 50 MPH. Only during deceleration but not actually while braking, just coasting. A sudden, split second pull to the left. I am thinking ABS sensor malfunction although ABS dash light is not on. Pulled ABS fuse to see if jerking would go away but it did not. Bear in mind this happens only occasionally, not all the time, I can drive 10 miles and have it happen only a few times while I coast to a red light. Can't imagine what might be causing it but it is extremely annoying. Heaven forbid it is something in the transfer case! By the way, when I pulled the wheel the brakes were fine, no evidence of frozen caliper or uneven wear on pads.

Open to all suggestions please! Thanks in advance.

So I have experimented a bit and can rule out some possibilities. It is most definitely not the ABS because I removed both sensors from the front, tied them up and out of the way with a zip tie, and test drove it - jerking pull still occurs. I also rotated the tires front to back with no change and I am fairly certain it is not the brakes, due to the intermittent instances and the way it feels when it jerks - there is no dragging like the application of a brake, just a quick and sudden jerk to the left for a split second.

So not tires, brakes, or ABS. That leaves only the differential or the steering rack. I am leaning towards the rack, again because of the feeling. While inspecting the vehicle I discovered a small but sustained leak from the rack seals. The boots on both sides are both torn and there has been some significant spray for some time around the steering gear. The fluid level however is good.
Is it possible for an air bubble or valve failure inside the rack could cause a sudden and sharp push or pull of the tie rods to one side? The ball joints on the tie rod ends by the way are tight and well lubricated - no damage there.
Or could the differential be locking up on one wheel for some unknown reason?

Still waiting for some comments. Thanks.
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