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I have a '04 Forester X. It has steel wheels but had chrome Subaru wheel covers. It was making a creaking-squeaking noise that was bothersome, especially considering the Forester's reputation for bad wheel bearings. Turns out it was the wheel covers! I got an aftermarket set for about $50 shipped and the noise was gone! :woohoo:
 

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one more for good measure!
 

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I should also mention the wheel covers have clips that grasp the outside of the rim, not the inside like many I have had in the past. What happens when a wheel cover gets old or damaged is that when a certain clip is on the bottom as the wheel rotates, the deformation from the tire moves the cover and/or clip, causing noise.

Here are similar aftermarket wheel covers I got, which I actually like the appearance of a little better than stock. The stock ones look a little flatter and these look a little curvier like the original steel wheel shape. A set of 4 is less than what 1 replacement Subaru stock one is. They are holding up well so far, although I usually remove them and reinstall myself when I go to get wheels rotated/balanced or alignment done. I don't trust even better shops to not get in a hurry and yank them off or try to slam them back on.
 

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I should also mention the wheel covers have clips that grasp the outside of the rim, not the inside like many I have had in the past. What happens when a wheel cover gets old or damaged is that when a certain clip is on the bottom as the wheel rotates, the deformation from the tire moves the cover and/or clip, causing noise.

Here are similar aftermarket wheel covers I got, which I actually like the appearance of a little better than stock. The stock ones look a little flatter and these look a little curvier like the original steel wheel shape. A set of 4 is less than what 1 replacement Subaru stock one is. They are holding up well so far, although I usually remove them and reinstall myself when I go to get wheels rotated/balanced or alignment done. I don't trust even better shops to not get in a hurry and yank them off or try to slam them back on.
Nice. Where did you buy these wheel covers?
 

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Nice. Where did you buy these wheel covers?
Amazon.com: 2003-2007 Subaru Forester 16 inch Wheel Cover Hub Caps (XL Model): Automotive

Amazon - C&C Car Worx Corp.

I don't think the quality is quite as good as OEM and I plan on being careful with them. The price sure is right! $58.50 + free shipping.

To remove the covers I use a med-large flat blade screwdriver and put in in the middle of the steel clip and press inward towards the center of the wheel. I don't like the design, but it is what it is. I do really like the chrome look. If you look really close there is a small gap around each lug nut where the steel wheel peeks through, maybe about 1/16" average. I noticed it when I first put them on but pretty much forgot about it after that.

If not for these affordable covers, I probably would have left the old OEM ones on until the noise got too bad and then just took them off and threw them away.
 
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