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Chris(aka-Moose), Subaru Technician
Category: Subaru
Satisfied Customers: 47937
Experience:  16 years of experience
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I have a 2014 Subaru Outback Premium with 33,000 miles that

Customer Question

I have a 2014 Subaru Outback Premium with 33,000 miles that are mostly from in town driving. Aside from the noisy engine the car is fairly quiet until recently. Now I'm hearing a howling/whiney noise that is probably coming from the CVT. Is that possible or is it coming from another source? I purchased new Continental True Contact tires about two weeks ago and I thought maybe they are the problem. I still have slight tire vibration which I plan rebalance them again this week. The noise is most prevalent when accelerating or maintaining a constant speed. The noise will dissipate once I let off the gas petal (coasting). It's more noticeable at high speed than low speed (<40 mph). Can it be the tires, the CVT is going bad, or just being sensitive to the noise. As per local Subaru dealership the alignment is good and no adjustment is needed. Could it be a center support bearing that is causing the noise and vibration?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Subaru
Expert:  Chris(aka-Moose) replied 11 months ago.

Welcome, I'm Chris (aka Moose) I prefer to work when others don't, I am here around lunch and after dinner till after midnight.

Did the noise start as soon as the tires were installed?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I generally don't drive the car. It's my wife's car and she uses it for in town driving to work, etc. unless we go out of town and I do the driving. I would want to say the noise started right after the installation of the new tires. But I can't be certain of that because I was more focused on the tires being out of balance (i.e., excessive vibration over 40 mph) than anything else until I noticed the noise during interstate highway driving (e.g., 65-80 mph). I felt both vibration and noise were associated together. Last weekend driving a*****trip in the mountains and interstate driving (e.g., a Sunday drive) the moment I take my foot off the gas pedal (i.e., coasting) the noise dissipates but not completely gone. Discount Tires will rebalance the tires for the 2nd time this week to see if they can eliminate the subtle vibration at high speed even though the noise is still noticeable. Discount Tires was able to rebalance the tires the first time to reduce the excessive vibration to subtle. There were two tires out of balance. But the noise level did not change. Please keep in mind that I wear hearing aids. Without them I cannot hear the noise (howling/whining). My wife really don't know what to hear for which she could be immune after driving the car every day for work for the last three years. The noise remind me when the splines in a rear end of a 2004 Durango was going out. You knew the noise was there but difficult to pinpoint. That noise in the rear end howled under acceleration and reduced when there was no load (i.e., coasting). Back to the tires. They handled the road wella dn are somewhat aggressive but ride stiff. The tires remind me of a time when I purchased Yohahoma tires for the Durango and I had the dealer exchanged the tires for OEM Goodyear because of excessive road noise that sounded like 4x4 tires (not quiet at all) and not all season tires. Once the Goodyear tires were put back on the issue went away. Continental True Contact received good reviews for Subaru Outback whereas Michelin Defender came in a close second. The OEM were Continental Pro Contact, which I was told are discontinued. I will admit the old tires were much quieter and smoother riding than the new tires which is sad to say. The only reason I purchased new tires was to get ready for the winter since the old tires had 4/32 left on them. I have a 7 years/70,000 miles warranty on the vehicle. I fully understand loud engine noise particularly during acceleration and some road noise from the tires. Luckily we don't have wind noise. But the other high pitch whining noise that we're talking here is bothersome to the point I cannot hold a conversation with my wife. What could it be? Wrong tires, bad tires, out of balance tires, mechanical failure (entire CVT or bearings), programming issue, or two separate issues (tires and CVT)? If they're the tires then how can convince Discount Tires I'm not happy with them giving the tires have good reviews. I will say driving around town under 35 mph the whining is not there, just engine noise. At first I thought the noise was in my head but I'm at the point that I rather drive my 98 Jeep Cherokee with 192,000 miles on it. I read online that some drivers masked the noise with music, etc. Is this a common complaint that the local Subaru dealership hears all the time? Will they be able to diagnostic this problem? We took the Subaru to the dealership for a 7,500 mile oil change and asked them to check a faint noise when the fan motor for the a/c and heater was running on low. They couldn't find anything wrong. That's why I feel I may get the same response from the dealership for this noise. It is my understanding that the CVT is a sealed unit and there is no checking for oil level. This car is in excellent condition and garaged kept.
Expert:  Chris(aka-Moose) replied 11 months ago.

The hearing aid can pick up more odd decibel noises than most others can hear. You may want a unbiased person to ride and see if they can hear it. I would really like to say its the tire tread design to blame for this noise since it seems to have started then. One thing you can do is get the car to the speed where it is worst and swerve aggressive but safe to see if side load on the tire effects it. If so then it could be a wheel bearing your hearing. So far I do not believe its the CVT doing this but something else in the drive train could be like a carrier bearing.

This is my 1st answer, but does not have to be my only answer. You the website and myself expect you to have a ~~~5 STAR EXCELLENT~~~ experience with my help. Please let me know if you are pleased by selecting a star rating above or by replying and saying your pleased. Not rating or rating 1-2 stars does not benefit you nor me in any way. Follow up and reply as often and when needed, there is no extra charge to do so.

Thanks Moose.

Expert:  Chris(aka-Moose) replied 11 months ago.

Hello again Chris here,

  • I am following up with you to see if you got everything you needed from my answer.
  • I have not heard back from you, so I assume you were not pleased. We're you pleased with my help?
  • If you were not pleased with my help, please let me know by replying so I can help more.
  • This post is coming up on the 7 day mark where it times out. When a post times out, that means it's no longer on my active list (you reply and I may never know it.)

Thanks Chris