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How to Repair the Clunking Sound in Subaru Tribeca B9 SUV

Updated on September 28, 2011
Tools- The C clamp is removed held on by two bolts.
Tools- The C clamp is removed held on by two bolts.
Bushings, new is on left. The slit allows you to fit them onto the sway bar.
Bushings, new is on left. The slit allows you to fit them onto the sway bar.
Shiny area is where old bushing is removed and new one installed
Shiny area is where old bushing is removed and new one installed
Fasteners that hold wheel liner to fender.
Fasteners that hold wheel liner to fender.

 A common problem in the Subaru Tribeca B9 SUV from 2005-07 models is a clunking type sound that develops over time. The noise is hear in the front of the car when going over any sort of bump. This differs from a bad U-joint, that will clunk whenever the car is moving.

In most cases it is the Sway Bar busings that are bad (even if they look fine) or Stabilizer links or bushings on the Strut Top. The parts run not more than $20 and your labor, or if you dealerize it, about $60 in labor and takes not more than 45 min. The part number for the bushings are: 20414XA01A, but may differ.

DYI

Tools Needed:

Ramps - To get the car in the air. You are going to want the suspension loaded (weight on the wheels) and not on jack stands. It will be a lot easier.

Eye Protection - Keep it out of your eyes.

Ratchet - To remove the bolts and nuts.

12mm Socket - To remove nuts and bolts. A deep one seems to be the proper length to work with and you will need one to get the nut off the stud. 

Flat blade screwdriver - To undo the one push type fastener in each wheel well to drop the liner down to access the front bolt.

Safety Warnings:

If you use jack stands the wheels will droop and could make removing the brackets that hold the bushings difficult, possibly even dangerous. One other safety item, do not attempt to remove the brackets unless car is on level ground. Don't put one wheel on the curb and the other on the road to get under the car and work on it. That will put torque on the sway bar and again you could get hurt removing the brackets.

The new bushings have a split in a different spot (face the split to the rear of the car when installing - green dot to the left) also the opening is smaller. The old ones will be rock hard and deformed. The new ones are much softer.

STEPS

1. To get to the front bolt to the U clamp, remove one of the plastic molly type fasteners up in the wheel liner.  The wheel liner drops down a few inches to make it easier to get to the front bolt. The fastener is easy to find, just look up close to the top of the wheel well and there is one fastener at about 11:00.

2. To remove, use a flat blade screwdriver to pop the center part out then you can use your fingers to pull the base out.


3. With the liner pulled down, take a sharpie or similar and put an arrow on the U clamp pointing forward. This is to help you remember which direction the clamp goes back on. When you have the clamp off you will see it matters.

4. Remove both the nut and bolt (12mm) and take the U clamp off. Once the clap is off, move the sway bar around a little to remove the old bushing off and then install the new one on.

5. Put the new bushing on so the split is facing the rear, there is a green dot on one side of the bushing. Point the green dot to the left side (drivers side for LHD) of the car.

6. Put the clamp back on the bushing. Do not have the clamp on all the way and get the front bolt threaded some before getting the rear on the stud.  Verify the bolt in the front is threaded on enough so as not to cross thread it. It you put it on second it will be hard to get it started.

7. Tighten the bolt and nut torqued down

8. Push the liner back in place and put the fastener back in.

9. Now repeat for the other side.

If the noise remains, check the Sway Bar Mounts, which becomne loose, Stabilize Links, or Strut top bushing. You may have to visit the dealer for this.

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    • profile image

      Alan 6 years ago

      Very well done!!!

      Saved me a lot of trouble!!!

    • perrya profile image
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      perrya 6 years ago

      Great!

    • profile image

      Tom 6 years ago

      thanks a lot, I new that there was something clunking but the guy in servise said that this is normal sound!

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      Rob 6 years ago

      The change out was successful and simple. Strangely, though the green dot had long since worn off, the split was facing the front? Leaves me wondering if this may have caused the early failure? ('09 Tribeca, 34k). Thanks for the great post as I had one mechanic diagnosing the issue as a strut!

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      06 tribeca 5 years ago

      Wow, couldn't believe it. I replaced the sway bar bushing and all the clunking disappeared.

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      Len 5 years ago

      Excellent write-up that resloved the clunking noise completely and a rather easy and inexpensive fix! Amazing how the Dealer was saying it was the struts and control arm bushing at only 30K miles. Saved me a ton of money!

    • perrya profile image
      Author

      perrya 5 years ago

      Cool!

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      derrick 3 years ago

      another success story ,no more thud!!!!! thx

    • perrya profile image
      Author

      perrya 3 years ago

      Glad to help!

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      Chris Profota 3 years ago

      Drove around for years with this noise and every one saying it was normal. I thought my front end was falling out every time I hit a bump. Found your article spent $20.00 and..... BAM! the noise is gone. Thank you

    • perrya profile image
      Author

      perrya 3 years ago

      thanks!

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