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Subaru Wheel Bearings Explained Part II

Subaru wheel bearings Explained part 2.

Pictured below is what is called a captured wheel bearing.

Subaru Wheel Bearing

And here is a wheel bearing and hub assembly.

Subaru Hub and Bearing

Rather than the bearing being pressed into the knuckle assembly it now bolts in with the choice of replacing the entire unit hub and all(the part the wheel bolts up to) or just the bearing and transfer over the hub.

This particular bearing fits the rear of a 2000 to 2004 Subaru Outback & Legacy.   The Subaru Legacy and Outback starting in 2005 use this design front and rear.  The Impreza in 2008, and finally the Forester with its redesign in 2009, the Tribeca has always been a captured type bearing.

The 2005 and up Legacy & Outback have had some significant problems with the rear wheel bearings and Subaru has extended the warranty on the rear wheel bearings to 100k on the affected vehicles.

Subaru wheel Bearing

The bearing area is also no much larger than it has been in the past on the Subaru and is much larger than the rear wheel bearing on a Forester/ Impreza of the same era that has had so many problems.  This doesn’t mean that there won’t be instances of replacement, but we see these fail much less often.

There is no special Subaru special tool needed to replace the bearing, like on the rear of the Forester, no “hub tamer” short cut tool needed to speed up the process.   While there is still a certain skill level needed to complete the job, it isn’t as daunting a task as it was before, one that if wasn’t done correctly would yield a very short bearing life.   The only real drawback is that there is no way to increase lubrication.  But the part is now much easier to replace, and as the part starts to come down in price the overall cost passed on the customer should come down as well.

Thanks For Reading

Justin

About the Author

All Wheel Drive Auto is a unique independent Subaru service & repair facility. We combine years of dealer experience with a local neighborhood shop atmosphere. We use Subaru parts & test Equipment and have the expert knowledge to fix it right the first time.

Comments (63)

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  1. Brandon says:

    The replacement bearings have no improvements for the 2005 Legacy? For the life of the car will this significant problem exist?

  2. Justin Stobb says:

    Hi Brandon,

    The replacement bearings for the 2005 up (rear) are an updated bearing, time will tell if they are any better or not.

    Justin

  3. Cassy says:

    I had my wheel real wheel bearings replaced after receiving a warranty letter from Subaru. Went to the auto dealer Blackridge Subaru in St. George, UT and they replaced. Now the noise is back worse and every number I call for Blackridge is disconnected! What a surprise – NOT!

  4. toyotawhizguy says:

    I really dislike the captured wheel bearing design, since you can’t repack them. I replaced my rear captured wheel bearings a few years with aftermarkets. Now, after 31,000 miles of service the aftermarket replacements have become noisey and need to be replaced again. Even doing the work myself, the cost is $180 for the pair, ouch!

  5. Justin Stobb says:

    Hello Toyota Whiz Guy,

    Neither Captured, or sealed bearings are servicable as you know.

    This makes up the majority or Cars and light trucks Today, and came about as a result of The McPherson Strut and CV Axles making their way into Cars.

    The Safety Advantages far out Weigh the costs to service.

    The Average Driver would have paid $120.00 in todays dollars to have the bearings “repacked” every 30k or so on an older car Vs $350.00 or so every 150k on average for Subaru’s with the Exception of the 1998 to 2003 Forester.

    Not sure which Model Subaru you have, but ALL of the Subaru parts have been updated, so it would stand to reason, if you bought after market parts to save a few bucks, VS spending the Money on the Update Subaru parts, you would have a shortened life expectancy. I would strongly suggest the updated parts from Subaru the next time.

    Justin

    • mybiggun says:

      Dear Justin: Its appearent your a fine mechanic. My ex bought a used 2005 Outback legacy from Carmax its been a parts eater. She took it to Kenasaw Subrau, they replaced all four hub bearings which they did stand the cost of rear bearings. Now 30,000 mi. later they are all making noise again and it is over the 100K mark. I call the subrau shop Manager and he said all these hub berings are made from the same company so after market is the same as OEM. I too am a mechanic so this time i will be doing the replacement work. I will take apart a old one and inspect it. These hub bearings should last more then 30K mi. I have a 1996 S10 Blazer with 200K mi. with orginal hub bearings still doing fine. Don’t figure !!!
      Dave

      • Justin Stobb says:

        Not Sure who you spoke to at Dealer, but Factory bearings are made by NTN, if you can locate the NTN bearing in the aftermarket than yes it would be the same bearing. However if you bought a Dorman, FEQ, Timken, etc it would NOT be the factory bearing.

        I own a 2004 GMC as well as many Subaru’s our 2005 Outback has 145k on the OE wheel bearings and my 2004 GMC has had them replaced twice at 75,000 in the front, so go figure.

        Justin

    • Drifter says:

      So what’s the part number on those front 2005 jdm sti wheel barrings ? I’m stumped looking for the correct ones

  6. Jay Susswein says:

    I have a 2005 Subaru Forester 2.5X and the right wheel bearing is on it’s way out. Is the combination hub/bearing available to my model and year? or am I limited to replacing the bearing that fits into the knuckle? a long and tedious process.

  7. matt f. says:

    Hello,
    I have a 2004 forester xt both rear wheel bearings are going bad at 123,000. I have a couple questions. Is there a new updated bearing I should use? Is it easier to just replace the hubs, and where can I find the best hubs that will last another 123,000 miles.

    • Justin Stobb says:

      There are updated wheel bearings. As far as “easier to replace the hubs” the hub is the portion that presses into the wheel bearing and that the wheel bolts up to the hub must be removed to replace the bearing and should be inspected and done as needed. There is no guarantee the second set lasts as long as the 1st set, factors that increase wheel bearing wear include aged suspension components, unless you are planning on replacing all of the front and rear suspension components, I really don’t think you should expect the next set to last 123k, its possible but not probable.

      Hope that helps

      Justin

  8. Justin Stobb says:

    Hi Steve,

    The bearing is pressed in. If you have a press or want to do the knuckle R&R and let a machine shop tackle the press work I guess you could save your self a little money.

    You will need to perform an alignment, and $600.00 for one side does seem a little excessive, but not knowing if its quoted with the hub, or if its rusty that may not be factual.

    Justin

    • Joe says:

      I have on ’06 Forester with the hum. Dealer just quoted me $500 parts and labor per side for a rear bearing. Local guy much less, a bit more if pressed. Are my rears pressed? I hear that the conventional wisdom is to replace with WRX bearings. Can you comment?

      • Justin Stobb says:

        The same era WRX uses the same rear wheel bearing as your Forester.

        Would not suggest the local guy if he is using anything other than the updated Bearing, paying less for made in china will cost more when its done a second time. The bearings are pressed, the local guy should know that?

        Justin

        • Joe Rainey says:

          Justin,

          I own a 03 Legacy Outback VDC Sedan and I am curious what it would take to upgrade or update the front bearings to the new 05+ bearings?

          Thanks for your time and patience…

          Joe

          • Justin Stobb says:

            Hi Joe,

            The knuckles would have to be swapped over for one, and because its not a huge problem on the front of the Outbacks from 2000 to 2004 I wouldn’t think it really worth the effort and expense.

            Justin

          • Joe Rainey says:

            Justin,

            Thank you for your reply. The reason I ask is, I was going to change out my ball joints and sure enuf the heads of both bolts snapped off of the retaining bolts. So at this point I was thinking about buying another set of used knuckles and hubs so I wouldn’t have a lot of down time and swap in new bearings to be safe.

            I came across this thread and it looks like the 05+ front bearings are way easier to work with and swap out. Seeing as I am going to buy knuckles I might as well upgrade in to the 05+ style if my axles, brakes, new whiteline ball joints and KW coilovers will work?

            Any help would rock… Thank you again for your time and patience.

            Joe

          • Justin Stobb says:

            Hi Joe,

            The knuckle will interchange, however the ABS and front axle may give you some issue. The 2000 to 2004 outer joint for the CV axle is different than the 2005 which also has a smaller diameter joint that works in conjunction with the newer hub. I also do not think the ABS sensor from the 2003 will work in the 2005 Knuckle.

            Early production 2005 had an axle that may interchange, but in all honesty the axles may also have a slightly different length.

            This will require a little more research on your part than I can provide, we have not had anyone want us to perform this swap( we seem to have done about everything else) so I just cant comment factually just thinking about whats different.

            Hope that helps a little at least.

            Justin

  9. Al says:

    My 2000 outback has a loud ticking/grinding noise when I’m on the freeway on ramp turning left. I can sometimes hear it making a left turn in a turn lane when I’ve made the green light. I hear nothing when I’m just making tight turns at parking lot speed. I’m thinking left rear wheel bearing. Am I on the right track? In your option is it best to just spend the extra money and buy ome parts? Thanks

    • Justin Stobb says:

      Hi Al,

      Its really hard to say, it very well could be a wheel bearing but it could just as easily be a front or right as a left rear, noise can transpond through other components and with out sourcing out the noise on a wheel by wheel basis its just a guess.

      You should in fact by O.E. Components as they in many cases will be updated and if not will still be superior in design to any thing from China you may find at your local parts supplier.

      Hope that helps

      Justin

  10. Paul says:

    I got to the point of pulling the hub/bearing but it was very stuck I feared damaging something so I reassembled the rotor and caliper for now until I am sure what I am doing. The car has over 245K miles and I believe the bearing is just rusted tight to the shield plate; the four bolts were out and the hub was moving off the spline. What is your suggestion?

    • Justin Stobb says:

      Paul,

      I would start by letting me know what year Subaru you own.

      They are differ greatly from year to year and model to model.

      Justin

    • Mark says:

      Back the 4 bolts out a 1/4 inch. Use an impact hammer on the bolt heads till the bearing moves out.retighten the bolts and repeat again till it’s freed. Use a pb blaster spray.

  11. Diane K says:

    I am having my right rear wheel bearing replaced on my 2007 Subaru Forrester. The car has 84000 miles on it and I have been the only owner. This is my first wheel bearing replacement. What’s the likelihood of the others starting to fail at this time and how can I check for it? The car is regularly serviced by a reputable Japanese auto service company.

    • Justin Stobb says:

      Hello Diane,

      Its most common to replace the right rear wheel bearing on a Subaru this is do to how the roads are crowned here in the US, while its possible that the others may go in time its generally well over 100k before that happens and still just a one at a time kind of a thing. You are no more likely to replace the other three than you would be on any other CV axle driven import vehicle.

      Hope that Helps!

      Justin

  12. Kevin says:

    Hello,

    I currently have a 95 imprezza and have many problems with wheel bearings going bad. Do you know if these newer style bearings can be adapted to fit an older model like my 95 imprezza? Do you know if these are more durable than the older press in place style?

    Thank you,

    Kevin

    • Justin Stobb says:

      Hi Kevin,

      The updated bearing from Subaru should work just fine. The Captured type bearings would require a lot of work and parts to install into your model Subaru.

      Justin

  13. John says:

    Hi Justin,

    I have a 2005 Outback XT/LTD with 152k. The front right wheel bearing just went and I had it replaced about a week ago. It now is starting to sound a little noisy again. Is it possible that the left front is now going? Is there a way for me to check to know which wheel it is without going to a garage?

    • HLC says:

      I have an 05 outback that I replaced the rt front hub/bearing on. The cruise control has pulsated since and now goes inop after setting it. Yes, I used an aftermarket bearing. Have you run across this issue?

      Also, I am getting a popping noise when turning at low speed with acceleration. I would normally say cv joint is the cause but have you found the bearing to have the same sound as a bad cv joint? I’m thinking maybe I got a bad bearing/hub.

      • Justin Stobb says:

        Hello HLC,

        We have had vehicles in from other shops for this, and typically replacing the wheel bearing and hub assembly with an OE resolves it, we have seen some other issues such as a failed ABS wheel speed sensor as well.

        The popping noise could be many things from a failing suspension component to a CV joint to a faulty wheel hub.

        -Justin

        • HLC says:

          Thanks,

          As for the cruise control issue is there a way to test whether it is hub or abs sensor?

          The noise is a popping sound and is only during a turn and does that narrow things down at all?

          • Justin Stobb says:

            Popping could be many things, so unfortunately no it doesn’t really narrow it down, without hearing it What can I offer other than to say it needs to be diagnosed.

            Of course you can isolate what the problem is.

            Why not just junk the junk hub and bearing since there was no issue prior and just install the OE?

            -Justin

  14. Lori says:

    Hi Justin,

    I have a 2002 Impreza Outback Sport Wagon and was told by a dealer back in January that the right rear wheel bearing was going bad, and probably the left too. I was surprised – and a bit skeptical – because the car only has about 50,000 miles. Is this model one of those with the wheel bearing issue? I have not yet had it replaced (my local independent shop heard some road noise but couldn’t tell which bearing was causing it). I have been monitoring the roar – which is getting a little bit louder but still not bad. Based on your articles, I’m thinking I should just get the bearing replaced. When I take it back to the shop, should I tell them which newer bearing to replace it with? Is it better to buy the bearing myself and bring it in to have it installed? Thanks for any advice you can provide.

    Lori

    p.s. The closest dealer to me is about 100 miles away. Is it worth it in this case to spend the extra $ a dealer would charge to have them perform the work instead of the independent shop?

    • Justin Stobb says:

      Hi Lori,

      Even if the dealer was next door to your house I would still feel better about a good independent Shop.

      They should use the updated kit from Subaru or off our website.

      Hope that helps

      Justin

  15. Justin M says:

    Hello Justin,

    I happened across your website after replacing my 08 Outback drivers side rear hub assembly. The task overall was fairly simple and took a little less than 3 hours (for a novice). I ran into an issue removing the original hub from the brake back plate; it seemed to be stuck. After some light chiseling and prying I was able to free the two. According to the Outback service manual DS-19 and illustration DS-00150 the brake back plate appears to stay attached to the rear arm however in my case the backing plate along with the hub assembly came off as one piece leaving me to try and separate the hub from the backing plate. I fear I may have damaged the backing plate because once I put everything back together the parking brake pads no longer fit inside the drum. I have losened the cable at the hand brake, ensured the cable wasn’t caught up with no success. The only way the drum fits over the shoes is by removing the adjuster. Is this normal? Any ideas/suggestions on how to get the drum to fit over the shoes while leaving the adjuster in place.

    Sorry to bring up an old topic. You write up is very nice.

    Thanks for a reply.
    -Justin

    • Justin Stobb says:

      Are you sure the shoes are lined up properly? Trying to picture what could have happened.

      The backing plate may be damaged but I doubt it unless you really went at it real hard.

      Maybe take the other side wheel, caliper and rotor off and look for differences in how you may have installed the e brake hardware?

      Justin.

  16. Peter Howe says:

    I just had to have both rear and one front wheel bearing in my 09 Outback replaced, at 110,000 km. Never had to do this with any of my previous Outbacks, or out Impreza. I see the earlier years had a problem and an extended warranty, but not the 09′s. Any thoughts on how 3 would go, basically at the same time?

  17. Debbie says:

    Hello -
    I have a 05 Outback and have hearing a lot humming coming from the rear. I just replaced all 4 tires and had them aligned, and noise is still there. Could this noise possibly be related to the rear wheel bearings?

  18. Don says:

    What if I never received a recall notice and the MySubaru website says no recalls like this for my vehicle? I just started having a bearing noise and my car is over 100,000miles. Is there anything I can do?

    Thanks,

    Don

  19. Peter says:

    Hi Justin,
    Our 97 Legacy starts shaking at about 10-15 miles.
    Right rear hub is very hot other 3 corners all cool, does this indicate bearings or ?
    With wheel off ground it rotates freely and bearing feels ok.
    Any suggestions?

  20. mike says:

    I had my 2000 outback rear bearings replaced about 4 months ago, the rear is making a ton of bearing noise again. The mechanic says it is the rear differential now. I think it sounds like the bearings again, so I am going to change them this time. Last time I bought the cheapest bearings at Autoparts warehouse, FEQ brand was half the price of Timken. And asked the mechanic to use them …so its my fault. Price isn’t always the determiner of quality, but evidently it was this time. Any brand you recommend?

    • Justin Stobb says:

      I would only ever suggest the O.E. Bearings, The Rear on a 2000 is a captured hub and bearing type there is no good aftermarket solution at this time.

      Its $199.99 per side MSRP, yes there are cheaper ways to go, FEQ is Chinese, and you are taking some risk in using something like that, one time its just they didn’t last very long, the next they came apart on the freeway.

      Justin

  21. Nelson says:

    Hi, I have a 2003 Subaru impreza currently on 15″ wheels. Want to install 17″ wheels and ha e been advised that I wd have to change the hubs as well. A colleague recently totaled his 2000 legacy b4. Can I replace mine with his? Is it as sime as that or is there alot more work required in replacing them, all four( front and rear)?

    • Justin Stobb says:

      Hello Nelson,

      If you are trying to install wheels with a different bolt pattern than what the car has, than yes you would have to do some component swapping, I don’t think it will end with hubs either.

      In the US most Subaru’s come with a 5×100 bolt pattern, except for the STI which has a 5×114.

      Justin

  22. Jeffrey says:

    The left rear wheel bearing on my 2001 Outback just failed for the fourth time since May.
    The original bearing failed at 250,000 km, and both side were replaced along with the badly rusted brake backing plate and parking brakes. The rotor’s being only a few months old were reused. For this repair the hub was reused. The right side is fine to this day (it never failed but was changed anyways due to the need to change the backing plate. About 2,000 km later the new left bearing failed again. Had it replaced again, parts under warranty. It failed again 300 km later.

    Fed up I got the $200 Subaru OES assembly with the new hub pressed into the bearing and did the work myself (a press is one tool I don’t have). Turns out the axle nut was loose from the second repair. I inspected the axle shaft because I thought it could be the cause of the repeat repairs, but it looked great, nice and clean. I cleaned the splines on the axle a bit, it was all they needed, and used a new axle nut and torqued to the correct torque using the procedure in the Subaru service manual (another person pushing the brake pedal), the mechanic that had done the two previous repairs claimed he used the very same torque setting that I did, but he wedged a pry bar between the lug nuts to lock the hub for torqing, not using the brakes.

    This third bearing, the OES part has just failed after about 10,000km since repair, and they always seem to fail when slowing down from highway speed, all is fine and then the rumbling suddenly starts and its quite loud at lower speeds.

    So now I will get another cartridge bearing and have the new hub reused. But should I change anything else that could cause this? Axle or brake rotor, or both? Or could the rear suspension part be warped?

    Neither my mechanic or I have the Subaru tool that grabs the axle and pulls it into the bearing, but neither do the seven Subaru dealers within 4 hours of my location. No such tool was used on any of my four Subaru’s in over a million KM of driving them, and I have never had rear wheel bearing issues like this (aside from my SVX…)

    Thanks a lot for your previous advice on the steering rack, I got a used rack with just 30,000 km on it, its in mint condition and all parts can be reused, including tie rods and bushings. I plan to install it, and then take the car to the mechanic to get the alignment (and now the bearing too) done.

    • Jeffrey says:

      In reviewing the Subaru Service Manual I came across this note after the torque spec of 174 ft/lbs +/-7:

      Use a new axle nut for rear use only (Olive
      color).

      My Subaru Dealer supplied axle nuts are gold, there is a hint of green in the shine, but I would not describe the color as “Olive”. The dealer made no mention, nor even ask about front or rear for the axle nut when I bought them.

      Given that the front and rear axle nut torque is different, perhaps the incorrect nut (front) is not strong enough for the rear bearing?

      If I am using the wrong axle nut, and it is indeed not holding the axle into the hub/bearing tight, then that would be a problem. But I could have the same incorrect nut on the right side, and it has not failed. BTW the third failure was a screw up by the last mechanic, the nut was loose by at least a quarter turn, so nowhere near the specified torque setting, it was way too easy to get off.

    • Justin Stobb says:

      Hello Jeffrey,

      That Sounds Awful. Id like to state first of all that the situation is very correctable, but I cant really factually know whats wrong with it without seeing it and evaluating it myself. I am going to list what I typically see when the bearing does not last.

      1. Most Dont understand that the Wheel bearing DOES NOT come pre greased. The grease that is in the new wheel bearing is packing grease only, the new wheel bearing should be packed with a high quality, high temperature wheel bearing grease before being pressed into the Hub but because you have a captured type that does not apply to your car.

      2. Whats the tire pressure?
      3. has the knuckle been inspected for cracks?
      4. Is the hub portion of the wheel centric and is it in good shape? Has the Tire Balance been checked?
      5. What are the alignment readings?
      6. Hows the Suspension on the side of the repeat failure?
      7. After a good drive has anyone evaluated the wheel temperature at each rear wheel to look for a difference? A sticky brake caliper can and will cause heat which will cause the bearing to have a shortened life

      I guess What I am trying to convey is we can change out the parts every time they fail, but if there is a pattern of the same part failing time and time again we really need to look for a pro, there are not that many of us around but if you want to get to the absolute bottom of this thats the only way. I suspect that if you buy A Subaru OEM unit again with HUB, take the time to clean and inspect the knuckle, inspect the suspension, check the tire pressure, have it aligned, check for a sticky brake caliper and correct all of these things as needed it will stay repaired.

      There is no axle puller Tool needed on the 2001 Outback its not a tapered or pressed fit.

      JUstin

      • Jeffrey says:

        Thanks Justin,

        This is my fourth Subaru and I have done pretty much all the maintenance myself on all of them over the last 17 years. I love them and love to work on them, but bearing work I usually leave to a trusted mechanic because I don’t have a press.

        As for your comments, I don’t think any of them apply.

        I have two sets of wheels and tires, the original alloy wheels with the summer tires and some steel wheels with snow tires on. So far I have had three bearings fail with the alloy wheels, and just this last one which has a little less than half its use with the winter tires installed. So the note to wheel centric likely does not apply.

        I check/adjust tire pressure religiously, I would guess that the tire pressure was in the 32-33 psi range because it was warm. With the snow tires I set the pressure to 30psi at -8 celsius, but it was +4c when the bearing went, so pressure is bound to be a bit higher.

        I recently changed out most of the worn suspension components on all four corners. In the rear all the bushings are original and so far they are compliant and holding everything where it should be. The rear shocks, springs and mounts are new.

        Alignment is pretty good, I have a slight pull, but that is likely due to a failing tie rod (the clunking steering rack and tie rods are being swapped one night this week).

        I have no vibrations , or at least its as good as it has ever been.

        The brakes were serviced (by me) in September. I relubricated the slides on the rear, and changed the brake fluid that was all that was needed. The calipers were sliding fine and pad and rotor wear was fine. Rotors and pads are about 2 years old now and perhaps 25% worn.

        The bearing is the bolt on type, not “captured” into the knuckle. I am aware of the grease issue from the mid 90′s with my SVX, dealers kept screwing that one up….. Grease does not apply to this bearing, its sealed.

        As for what the bearing attaches to, the brake backing plate which sits between the bearing and suspension is new. The suspension part through which the 4 bearing bolts go through appeared fine when I looked at it. I will have the new backing plate checked for flatness and even thickness at the bearing bolt holes. If this plate is not flat and even thickness it will twist the bearing in its flange.

        I do have the gold front axles nuts, not the green rear axle nuts. I will get to the dealer on Monday to chew them out about giving me the wrong nuts. Even the aftermarket nuts are noted “front only”, can’t find any rear aftermarket nuts. Torque settings are quite a bit higher on the rear.

        From what you have indicated there is nothing obvious that I am missing, I will swap that bearing, check the backing plate and use green nuts.

        As for the axle, I just can’t see it as an issue, its clean and pulled easily into the new hub when I did the work.

        And there is a tool, at least according to Subaru: Using ST1 and ST2, pull axle shaft into place.
        ST1 922431000 AXLE SHAFT INSTALLER
        ST2 927390000 ADAPTER

        But as I said, the axle pulls in easy, so the tool is kind of pointless. Its not going to do any more than 174lb/ft of torque on the nut. BTW I pulled the axle in using the old nut, and then swapped to the new one. Since you can’t reuse the nut, I did not want to use the new nut to seat the axle.

        Thanks, on another note, in the spring I will pull the engine to replace the clutch (it is original) and also all the gaskets (head gasket is just starting to leak oil). The engine has piston slap, even with the countermeasure pistons installed. There is no oil consumption that I can detect, and compression was in the high range of the spec and very even across all four cylinders (+/- about 1 PSI across the four) this past summer. So I am inclined to do nothing more than gaskets and perhaps adjust the solid valve lifters. The timing belt and its pulleys, and water pump will only be midway to the next change out, so they will be untouched. The oil pump will come out, its leaking a bit too, in fact it may be the main leak so I may do that one earlier. Only part needed is that $4 O ring….

        Not inclined to fix anything that’s not broken.. My ’93 Legacy with its EJ22 went 466,000km with no head gasket or internal work on it. Too bad a collision with 7 deer did in the car….

        • Jeffrey says:

          So it turns out its not the left rear bearing again, its the right rear. Its hard to determine the side from the drivers seat, so I just went for a spin with my girlfriend in the back and she is quite confident its the right side.

          This is the side with the non OEM/Subaru bearing. So I will now swap it out with the OES assembly (new bearing with new hub already pressed into place). I will also swap both rear axle nuts to the green ones.

          It’s actually a relief that its the cheap part on the right failing after about 30,000 km on it…

          So lesson to everyone, as you stated somewhere in this article, use the Subary spec OES bearings. I am using part number OES1653746 which is the complete assembled bearing/hub/lug bolts. It came in a Subaru box with a Subaru part number which I did not take note of.

          I was worried that my Outback would set a record for wheel bearing replacements on one side. My SVX failed four on one side in 11 months, it was the grease thing and dealer’s not repacking the bearings. I miss that car…. but not its bearings or transmission issues.

          • Justin Stobb says:

            Its very difficult to try and figure out which side is the one making the noise on a test drive, you need to get all for wheels up in the air, put the car in “N” and spin each wheel while you hold the strut or knuckle and feel for roughness that way.

            Justin

        • Justin Stobb says:

          Hi Jeffrey,

          1. Yes I am aware of what a “captured wheel bearing” is, its like the kind that bolts in, the other kind presses in.

          2. “Alignment is pretty good, I have a slight pull, but that is likely due to a failing tie rod (the clunking steering rack and tie rods are being swapped one night this week).” If it pulls then the alignment is no good, and instead off and an alignment that is off causes drivetrain wear. If the thrust angle is off, but the readings at te wheel ok it could damage the wheel bearing over time without causing excessive tire wear, but guess what it would cause the car to pull.

          3. Im sorry I should clarify, there is no tool that any Technician working at the Dealer, or Subaru independent would ever use. Like you mentioned in your first post no one used it, its because its not needed. You grease the axle splines, push the little axle though the hub and tighten down the nut, and guess what you can use the nut over, and over again as long as you clock it in a way that the crush sleeve can be hammered into the notch in the axle, which is probably a step not occurring if the nut loosened up.

          So when you come here looking for help and I try and suggest things that can shorten the life of the bearing to try and help you, by all means dont take me seriously, dont have the alignment checked, dont have the tire balance checked, dont check for sticky calipers with a infrared thermometer just assume its all ok and three wheel bearings in a short period of time is normal.

          Best of luck

          Justin

          • Jeffrey says:

            I think you misunderstand me. I do greatly appreciate your input. I was not trying to put you down at all, its just that I have done most of what you have indicated already and will be doing the rest shortly, and most of that has already been done recently and more or less be ruled out. I am sure you have run into some frustrated Subaru owners with repeat issues, count me as one of them.

            As for the side, its defintely the right side, I had a friend drive the car around the parking lot, and I put my head on the floor of the cargo area near the top strut mount, and its clearly the right side.

            On the note of difficult detecting which bearing had fialed I did have a front wheel bearing fail where it was noisy on left turns. Survey says thats the right bearing under the greater load. Put the car of the lift, spinning wheels was not conclusive, changed the right bearing. Turns out it was the other one… it was noisy when unloaded in a turn. No big deal, both bearings had 200,000 km on them so they were both due.

            Thanks a lot, love the site!

  23. [...] here: Subaru Wheel Bearings Explained Part II : i may be doing these real soon, too. i have just replaced the right rear upper link, the inner [...]

  24. Dan says:

    I have a 2001 Subaru Legacy Outback and I’ve run into a problem trying to change the left rear wheel bearing. First off this model has the one piece, captured type wheel bearing assembly, held in place with 4 bolts where no pressing or special tools were to be required.
    Following the Haynes repair manual, I removed everything necessary, and made sure the hub was free on the splines of the axleshaft. The hub/bearing assembly will not move. My best guess is that the bearing is frozen into the rear knuckle, perhaps due to heat produced by driving so long with a bad bearing.
    Have you come across this problem? Any solutions? I gave the hub a few solid whacks with a sledge but started to dimple the hub and was hoping to reuse them as the replacement bearings I bought didn’t include the hubs.
    Any thoughts would really help out, Thanks.

  25. Dennis says:

    Hello Justin,
    Thanks in advance. I have a 2002 Outback. When I put it up on stands, I can wobble the right front wheel. I was hoping you could start me on the right path to a fix.
    The wobble moves the strut, spring, hub assemble etc. I can see it moving up to the steering knuckle at the rack. Thank You for taking the time to help your fellow Man.

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