All Wheel Drive Auto: Independent
Seattle Subaru & Toyota Service


Subaru Repair Seattle: Wheel Bearings Explained Part 1

Your Subaru Wheel bearings Explained.

Subaru Wheel Bearing


So there are many models of Subaru, many different platforms, or generations.  I will have to break this up into more than one article or it will be just too hard to follow.  This first article will focus on the Subaru Forester, but many of the Subaru models use the same bearing design.


There are many different variations of the wheel bearing and below are some pictures of the some of the common designs of the last few years.

Old Vs New

This is the old on the left, the updated in the middle with the release in the race

Wheel Bearings and Hub


Here we have a roller bearing on the left, the updated bearing on the right and a worn/ dmaged hub and tappered wheel bearing in the middle.


The Subaru Forester from 1998 to about 2003 had a pretty significant issue with the longevity of the right rear wheel bearing.  I am going to focus this article on that era first as it will explain a lot of common symptoms, along with showing the differences Subaru has made in the design of the wheel bearing.


The first Foresters came with a roller type rear wheel bearing pictured below.  This wheel bearing had a longevity issue, and some didn’t last 30,000 miles before failing.  The bearing was updated first with a tapered roller bearing, second with a tapered roller bearing with a release in the outer bearing race and finally with a revised installation tool and procedure.

Wheel Bearings and Hub

Why some wheel bearings last longer than others has a lot to do with tire pressure, brake heat, driving patterns and habits,  vehicle alignment, suspension system integrity and lastly road crown.


Road Crown?

In areas where it rains a lot like my home state of Washington, there is the need to keep the water off of the road as such the roads are paved with a slight inclination to the right, if it was the other direction the water and you would veer to the left and into oncoming traffic.  This can put increased pressure on some of the vehicles systems such as the right side wheel bearings.

The Subaru Forester is not the quietest vehicle ever produced, and sometimes it can be hard for the driver to hear the audible signs of a failed wheel bearing, but if it seems like the road noise in your Sub is loader than normal chances are one of the wheel bearings has started to fail, and if let go too long, the hub can become damaged.  The hub pictured below is pressed into the wheel bearing and is what the wheel actually bolts up too as well.   Taking your Subaru to a good shop that will keep an eye or better yet an ear on these things can help catch the wheel bearing early.


Subaru Wheel Hub

The latest Subaru bearing is the only bearing you should have installed, there are many aftermarket versions without the release which plays a critical role in longevity, if you own a Forester and have had to have this done over and over you may not of had the updated parts installed.

Make sure you are getting the bearing pictured below.

Updated Bearing & Hub

The front of the Forester uses a tapered roller bearing and while they do fail, just not at the same rate as the rear did.  Subaru and most either All Wheel Drive or front wheel drive vehicles use a similar design.

The days of taking out the bearings, cleaning and repacking every so often have long been gone.  When the bearings have symptoms in a modern vehicle the result is more expensive but there is no maintenance like there was in the older vehicles. As such it is unreasonable to expect the grease in the wheel bearing to last forever, and the bearing will overheat if not properly lubricated or can fail for a long list of other reasons.

So if confronted with a wheel bearing issue in a Subaru know it’s bound to happen, there are 4 of them, and slowly over the life of the car all 4 will probably have to be replaced and the right rear more than once.

The next Wheel bearing article will cover the captured type wheel bearings found in the 2000 and newer Outback and Legacy and the ones under an extended warranty by Subaru

You can buy the updated rear wheel bearing parts from us here.

Front Wheel Bearing Kit (Non Captured) For Legacy, Outback, Forester, Impreza

Thanks for reading




92 Responses

  1. I was curious what the difference between a rear hub assembly kit with bearing and all is versus a “assembled” unit? I had a mechanic tell me that even though I showed them the rear hub assembly kit with the bearing, seals, hub etc. that it was not the right part because they wanted one already pressed? But when I search the internet I only find assembly kits, bearings by themselves, or hubs by themselves? also the bearing you were depicting that should be installed is the one with the textured center of the outside ring? So having the smooth outside bearing is just the old OEM replacement that isn’t updated?

    1. Hi Jacob,

      So if your application calls for a separate bearing and hub and not an assembly you cannot substitute once for the other.

      This comes up a lot, but on older models the bearing is pressed into the hub, a retaining clip is then installed, followed by seals, then the hub is pressed into the bearing.

      The assembly’s bolt in, and there is no place to bolt in the assembly on a knuckle not designed for that application.

      Hope that helps


  2. although quite a while ago, thanks for the write up Justin.
    it’s unfortunate that Subaru was a bit sloppy on this design,
    it harkens back to my Fiat days.. ( same setup, same issues with failed bearings. )

    I do take issue with you blaming road crown, that is just silly.
    think about it, if indeed road crown was a “problem” then all car
    manufacturers would have bad bearing problems. That is simply not the case.
    it is a poor design and bad implementation. that’s why there were recalls
    and redesigns, In the end I think it was cost cutting that got them there.


    1. Hello Davey,

      I am afraid you are misinterpreting the post and replies to questions.

      The subject of road crown is brought up to merely explain why for most it’s the right rear that goes first, for many it’s the only one that fails, or worse may fail repeatedly. The failure of the bearing is not blamed on road crown. The bearing was updated, but the repair method is also suspect when done at the Stealer.

      Road crown is something that is taught about during the suspension and steering portion of a good Automotive Technical program, it is imperative that a good tech remembers this when evaluating problems with cars and performing alignments.

      Parts do not fail as a result of road crown, but a part that is the exact same as the one on the other side may fail first as the result of road crown.

      I hope that helps clear it up for you.


  3. Hi Justin;
    I have a 2010 Forester with 78,000 miles on it. All highway driving. Today the Subaru dealer replaced my front brakes (2nd pair), the sway bar, and said that I needed both front wheel bearings replaced ($381 each). I have never seen tire wear or heard noise as the videos sound. Could this be a money making scheme? Could they really fail so soon? I spent $1300 on various things that did seem necessary, but declined the wheel bearing job. I am a safe and reasonable driver–no potholes.
    Thanks for any advice you may have. Janet

    1. Hi Janet,

      Wheel bearings gradually make noise over time, and many get used to the increase road noise without ever realizing the bearings are making noise. Lets be honest the Forester is not a very quiet car anyways.

      You can always ask to be shown the old parts.


  4. Hello Justin. I wish you had a shop close to where I live. I find your posts to be very informative and eye-opening. I really appreciate how you take the time to share your knowledge and insights with the public. I am looking at replacing a rear wheel bearing and hub on my ’01 Forester. I have purchased the OEM bearing, hub and seals. I thought of a few questions that I would like to ask you. Please let me know what you think if you have time. My questions are:

    1.) The hub shaft is lubricated with a clear oily substance which is probably packing grease residue. Should it be re-lubricated with something else before pressing it into the bearing?

    2.) Does it hurt to put a liberal coating of grease on the seals before installing them?

    3.) Can a hub be pressed too far into a bearing? I’m concerned that the back of the hub flange or the ABS tone wheel might end up contacting something that they shouldn’t if the hub is pressed in too far.

    Hope to hear from you, but if not, I completely understand. I know you all must stay really busy.


    1. HI Colin,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      The hub will only press in so far under normal load, its possible to go to far but something would have to give or break and the gauge readings on the press would be very high.

      The seals should be packed as should the bearing with high temp type wheel bearing grease.

      Keep us in mind for those parts we sell a updated kit with or with out the kit for most likely less then you paid and we offer support.



      1. Justin,

        Thanks for your response. I replaced the hub, bearing and seals. So far, so good. Your advice was very helpful.


  5. Hello, I am attempting to change the rear wheel bearing on a 2001 Forester L AWD. I really appreciate your article and thorough responses to everyone’s questions. Thanks for the great help! However, I came across a service bulletin which contradicts some of the info you have shared and I was wondering if this is an old service bulletin or if I am missing something else.

    The first point of contention is that Subaru required in a 12/2002 service bulletin MSA5P0401C that mechanics use a special tool (Kent Moore 1-45697) and replace the wheel bearing On The Car for certain models including 1998-2003 Foresters. Is this the hub tamer you were writing about and what do you think about the possibility that a bearing press could distort the updated bearings housings if not performed on the car with this tool? Besides saving time, the low pressure tool seems to be indicated by subaru in order to avoid the possibility of such damage.

    Also, this point was typed in bold:
    “The new genuine Subaru rear wheel bearings are not to be packed with grease of any
    kind. The bearing is ready to install out of the box.”

    Thanks again!

    1. Hello Jessie,

      I am well aware of the Service bulletin. Here is why the tool exists, Subaru is a corporation and every single corporation is always looking to maximize profits or in the case of warranty repairs preserve them.

      When Subaru came out with the tool, the labor time paid to the Dealer and Technician under warranty dropped significantly.

      There are many shops who use a tool called the “hub tamer” which is very similar to the Kent Moore tool, my shop never will. In my opinion, doing the wheel bearing in the car is far from a precision operation, kind of like doing head gaskets in the car and wondering why they don’t last but a year. We remove the knuckle, press out the hub and bearing, put the knuckle in the parts washer and clean out all old grease and contaminates rather than just wiping it out with a rag and hoping it’s all gone, next we use a press with a gauge so we know how much force is being applied when removing and installing, rather than use a butchers tool and an impact wrench. We do sometimes find a knuckle or hub that was damaged from heat as a result of the failed wheel bearing the gauge is a way to spot this that you could never utilize with a in car install tool.

      Subaru is concerned only with keeping warranty labor times down, and I promise the wheel bearings are not installed at the factory with the Kent Moore tool.

      Subaru also doesn’t have much faith in many working at a dealership to properly pack a wheel bearing with grease either, it’s kind of like asking the grill person at Mcdonalds to cook you a steak to Medium rare some can just fine but many will give you shoe leather.

      There are of course some good techs working at a Dealer, but due to the pecking order and politics they are not the ones making a warranty wheel bearing replacement. If Subaru did not have so many issues with the rear wheel bearings on the Forester back in the day there would have never been a tool or a bulletin.

      The problem with all of this is that even the cars repaired under a customer pay situation will have the repairs made the same way as under warranty. This is not a Subaru exclusive situation every car maker does this, which is why I hate the idea of the Dealer making repairs in many situations, it’s funny you brought this up as it’s one that’s always stuck with me as a glaring example of whats wrong with the current model in terms of franchised auto dealers and the manufacturer.

      You can read all over different Subaru owner forums about multiple wheel bearing replacements done at a dealer, in many cases only one was covered under warranty, we strive to do better for our customers and my advise to everyone is don’t take short cuts and always make the most professional repair you can, they always last longer..

      -Hope that helps


  6. Justin, thanks for the great article. I purchased bearings from a parts distributer before I read your article and the bearings that I bought do not have the center relief, so based on your recommendation I’m getting bearings from Subaru. My local Subaru dealer says not to repack these bearings as they already have a high temp moly grease preloaded in them. Does this sound correct or should I repack them with the Valvoline grease as you do? When looking at the bearing the grease is dark grey, it isn’t the clear grease that I see in my aftermarket bearing. Thanks in advance.

    1. I am not aware of the updated rear bearing coming with anything other than packing grease unless it’s the hub and bearing assembly.

      I would repack to be safe.


  7. Thanks for the article! I’ve got a problem with my wheel bearing and am not sure what to do. On Friday I heard a horrible grinding coming from the right rear wheel of my 2000 Subaru Impreza (manual), along with a feeling of a flat, as I was going 65MPH on the NJTurnpike an hour from home. It wasn’t a flat. It appeared like the top of the wheel was leaning in towards the car.

    After being towed to a nearby shop, I was told the wheel bearing needed to be replaced; however, only 1 1/2 months ago at my inspection in PA, my local service center said the right rear wheel bearing needed to be replaced in order to pass. Nearly $400 and a supposedly new wheel bearing later, it passed.

    When I told the NJ service center about this, they said it absolutely couldn’t have been replaced because the rust build-up shows it has not been opened. They estimated $550 to fix it, which included extra time to get through the rust. After three hours they gave up (charging me $0), and I had the car towed to the local Subaru dealer who also insisted the part couldn’t have been recently replaced. The dealer is estimating $1,300+ in repairs because they will have to cut it out due to the significant rust.

    The initial PA service center insists they replaced it: “If we charged you, we did it,” and that the only way for him to check it out is to get it to him. That would mean an hour-long tow which is out of the question. My original receipt from June says “Right Rear Axel Bearing, $116 parts + $262 labor + tax” and I double-checked that they didn’t work on another wheel by accident.

    Do I have any way of proving who is correct and, if the part wasn’t replaced originally, what kind of recourse do I have? I’ve taken photos and the dealer is saving all the parts they take off the vehicle. Thanks!

    1. Hi Pam,

      That’s a rough situation. So some shops will use a tool called a hub tamer to replace the bearing which can nullify the rust issue but at the expense of repair longevity and yes sometimes it can actually fail rather quickly which is why we don’t advocate using one.

      Here is my take, either it was not replaced and you are entitled to a refund, or it was replaced and is under warranty. But either way it will need to be towed to them or you cant really expect much.

      Sorry I cant offer more and I hope it goes well.


  8. took my 02 forester to the shop for hub bearing replacement and they said that they couldn’t get it apart because bolts are seized up and that if they broke the bolts and nuts to get it apart that then they would have to replace front & rear lateral control arms, spindle assy, abs sensor and do an alignment. and the price way up there. does this sound right?

  9. I just finished the take apart phase of the right rear wheel bearing replacement on a 2003 Subaru Forester. I wasn’t a fan of the long bolt at the bottom of the knuckle. Through 4 holes and exposed in the middle. It corrodes in the middle and will never come out. I removed the other bolts with difficulty but cut the two top bolts with a sawzall that fasten the two long rods to the knuckle where the long bolt that wont move is. This allowed me to slip the axle out. I made a bearing press with a 9/16″ threaded rod. The rod actually broke. I took the unit to a machine shop and had them press out and in the old and new bearings. They had a time of it too. I was told I’d never have gotten them out. Now I’m looking for a drawing to see where all three bearing caps go. Hoping it will be obvious as I reassemble. The antilock break bolt broke as did the sensor when I removed it. $120 for it ouch. Junk yard says they can’t get them out with out taking longer to do so than they can sell them for. Had to cut the link from the stabilizer bar too. This job wasn’t fun. I replaced the tie rod outer ends, rack and pinion, belts, radiator….. they were nothing compared to my simple rearwheel bearing replacement. Thought I’d be in and out in a couple hours. Oh was I wrong LOL!

  10. Dear justin

    I have a 99 and 2002 forester my brothers front wheel bearing failed. And searching the Internet for the correct torque number and procedure for the front axle nut.
    I assume this is a critical number being the front is still taper bearings.

    This updated rear bearing and hub, what has changed in the hub design?

    Thanks for the help

  11. Hi Justin,

    Great article and solid information on Q&A. Discovered today through my dealership troubleshooting that my front passenger wheel hub and bearing need replacement. Estimate with parts and labor are around $1,100 (includes hub, bearing, inner and outer seals) for my 2003 Subaru Forester XS. I am not a expert mechanic, but am comfortable with this repair. I see based on what is available on your site that 2003 doesn’t have a “kit” and I will have to buy separate (prefer pairs based on prices) as follows: Hubs = 1ASHS00218, Bearings + Seal Kit = 1ASHS00653. Found a machine shop that can press the bearings for a small fee locally.

    1. Have I selected the correct parts above based on year/model?
    2. What brand of high temp bearing grease do you recommend for repacking and removing the clear grease?
    3. How’s the best way to repack the bearing grease?
    4. What’s the best spray cleaner to use for cleanup if I don’t have a parts washer?
    5. How do I know the machine shop pressing the bearing does it correctly and goes the correct distance?


    1. Hi Erik,

      1. Have I selected the correct parts above based on year/model? is the link to the kit you need.

      2. What brand of high temp bearing grease do you recommend for repacking and removing the clear grease?

      3. How’s the best way to repack the bearing grease?

      Valvoline high temp wheel bearing grease is what we use, it’s Red in color if that helps we have a bearing packer but you can do it by hand and work the grease in. Brake cleaner will work best for cleaning it out.

      4. What’s the best spray cleaner to use for cleanup if I don’t have a parts washer?

      Again I would use brake cleaner.

      5. How do I know the machine shop pressing the bearing does it correctly and goes the correct distance?

      Can’t really help you there, its just not feasible to try and explain how to press in a bearing using a hydraulic press without knowing what kind of press they have, and even then I would still have to familiarize my self with their press. It should be installed with minimal force until it rests on the stop in the knuckle, is the best I can offer.

      Hope that helps


  12. I have a 2002 Subaru Forester that I need to do the rear wheel bearing on the right side is it a press in or can I do It my self ????

    1. Hi James,

      Which kit? Depending on what year and model the kit is different, some are captured and come complete, but others are only offered as individual pieces as that’s the way they have to be installed.


  13. Great info and Thank You first of all. What grease do you recommend? And I heard only fill the wheel bearing 30% full with grease? And if so how do you know when your at 30% THANKS

  14. have a 2001 forester, which all of a sudden loud clanging noise and car couldn’t be driven. Had brakes done, so thought brake related. But brakes company said they didn’t hear any noise when checke the area or leaks, but since ball bearing is sealed, they wouldn’t be able to tell when its low. They then determined it was transmission. Took to transmission shop and they said it was the brake drum ball bearing lubricate, was really low. Car has 60,000 miles on.

    If sealed, am assuming not lifetime warranty with subaru. how does one tell when its the ball bearing or do you change them every 30,000 miles??

    1. Hello Karen,

      So by the ” brake drum ball bearing” do you mean the wheel bearing?

      If that’s the case they are replaced as they show signs of failure such as noise or excessive play, the 2001 Subaru forester has an updated wheel bearing, they are not done every 30k, they are done when needed, some go 300k some go 40k.

      Not sure why the brake company was unable to resolve the noise for you thats pretty standard stuff.


  15. What are the part numbers for the generations of bearing? Or rather, what is the part number to know if I for sure have the newest? It appears that some cheap bearing on ebay look like the right type but are in fact the old kind. I want to order real subaru parts anyway, but asking for the right number helps a lot. Thanks for the great information!

  16. how do I remove the packing grease from my new ntn bearing and should I use a bearing packer to get the new ntn bearing? Thanks Bob.

  17. Justin,

    My 1998 bearing went and I drove it a little to long to fix it……the seal around the bearing looks like it melted to the bearing….how do I get it out….if it looks like it welded together from the heat…..or do I need a new piece…..


    1. Hi Keith,

      The seal is just rubber and can be removed with a seal puller in most situations. Without seeing it it is difficult to help you as I am just not seeing the same thing you are.


  18. My son has a 2008 forester with 40,000 miles and the dealer is suggesting a bearing replacement. Although I bought a 2013 outback based on his early experience, this is my first experience with Subaru. I have been a Toyota guy before – never replaced a wheel bearing ever, or for that matter any mechanical “wear” part on a Toyota other than brake linings, batteries, and wipers. Isn’t this a Subaru design issue? His transmission shifter cable has also rusted out (will be $1,000 to replace shifter, cable, etc.). Really love the cars and thought they were tough drivers – what’s up?

    1. Hello Kirk,

      Sorry to hear that your Sons 2008 Forester has got you down

      While you may have never replaced a Wheel bearing on a Toyota there are plenty who have and any Toyota Dealership will stock most wheel bearings for just that reason, in fact the bearings found in your Sons forester are made by the same Vendor in many Toyota models.

      The Forester has had an issue with road crown and the right rear wheel bearing on some cars, but not to many 2008 models as by than the bearing was updated, and not typically at that mileage. contributing factors can be wheel alignment, tire pressure, heat and how much the car sits but most commonly pot holes and hitting curbs are extra hard on wheel bearings. How nice is your son to his forester? Lastly because the Forester is only driven about 8000 miles a year it appears it must sit a lot?

      Just keep in mind that use plays a important part in determining how long a component may last.


  19. Hey Justin,
    Quick question. Right rear bearing on 2002 sub for needs to be replaced. I noticed in a couple of forums talk of a hydraulic press needed? Is that true for the updated part? Have the ability to change it myself unless the press is needed…then I’m hooped. Thanks,

    1. what Hello Mike,

      If you don’t have a press you can take the knuckle out your self and then take that to a machine shop and let them do just the press work, you will still save your self a few bucks for your efforts.

      Just make sure you use the updated bearing set and nothing else, also pack the bearing with grease your self what comes in the bearing is packing grease.

      Hope that helps


  20. I last replaced the right rear wheel bearing of my 1998 Forester 2 years ago. Last week I replaced the other three. The right front and back left had been very noisy. Now the car is nice and quiet again. But for more than a year, a squeak from the back right wheel is audible when driving at very low speeds. It disappears when the vehicle picks up speed. I have not been able to identify what is causing it. I had a look at the parking break drum but the brake shoes did not appear to rubbing on the drum. I washed the car yesterday morning and when my wife drove away, there was no squeak. So seems water can eliminate it. It is really irritating me.

    1. Hi Lance,

      I suspect one of the Wheel bearing seals has run dry. I would try sparing some sort of lubricant as best as possible on the seals, it may require you to to replace them however. This is common if the seal is not packed with grease so its there for the life of the seal.


  21. Lat year i was looking for a “beater” to replace my 20 year old Grand Cherokee V8.

    I came across a 2001 subarea which had its entire service history included, including three Right Rear Bearings. I am no going to have the upgrade you described installed.

    Nevertheless, this is a great little car. AT 305,000 Kilometers it has had its timing belt break, causing the then owner to sell it. The garage that bought it rebuilt one cylinder bank and re-gasketed the other. It came with fresh brake pads and disks, everything from clock to A/C to heated seats works! Tranny is tight, and the thing starts up every time and soldiers on.

    I would defiitely get another Subaru with the 4-cam motor, and the rugged serivce I can expect.

  22. Justin, awesome post, thank you! My 2002 Forester started making a noise in the rear right that sounded very much like a noisy “whirring” tire. I’ve been running on very quiet Michelins that have about 35k on them and assumed one of them was getting noisy and noisier as it was wearing. Although it didn’t make sense to me that only 1 tire was having this problem since it looked no different from the others or had abnormal wear. Hence, I googled up your post … went to the shop … and your description is exactly the issue I have. My assumption about the noisy tire could have caused much larger issues … I usually never post on forums, but you nailed it. Going price for 1 bearing r&r as of this date = $500 with labor using oem parts. Thanks again !

  23. Can you give a time estimate for the repair? We have this repair scheduled at our local shop and I’m afraid they have the wrong part ordered based on this article. Also the time est. would help me get a ball park price for the correct repair. Thanks!

    1. How do you put the knuckle in a parts washer and clean out all of the debris from the failed wheel bearing if you use a Hub tamer and do the job in the car?

      Hub Tamer = shortened repair life.

      Too many in this industry look for the cheapest, quickest way to make the repairs, rather then ask whats the best way to do this so it lasts?

      What constitutes a damaged hub?

      The hub presses into the wheel bearing, if the hub is scored, scraped, wallowed, pitted, has signs of heat damage or measures out of spec and can no longer maintain its pressed fit, the hub could come out of the bearing and that will be a real bad day for you.


      1. HEY HEY thanks for the reply …..
        I am a mechanic by trade although all my tools are a heck of alot larger :o) these subaru’s don’t even fit on my hoists LOL
        I just wanted to make sure I was not missing the obvious especially reguarding the damaged hub.

  24. Hello! I am having the right rear bearing issue on my 98 forester. I’m taking it to the dealer to be serviced. Will they automatically put this updated bearing on? Is there a part number for the one with the release so I can be sure I’m getting the right one?

    1. Hi Holly,

      The only part available from Subaru presently is the updated part so yes , if its a good Dealership or Independent it should be getting the updated bearing.

      Hope this helps


  25. If I buy this, will the bearing be pressed into the hub already? This would prevent needing a press to do the work?

    Are there service manuals available for how to do the replacement along with the tools and torque specs?

    Great article, btw.

      1. Hey Peter,

        We would need to know if it was front or rear to answer that question.


  26. I replaced my left rear with a new bearing and hub (old hub had a broken lug). A local shop helped me get the old bearing out of the spindle and pressed the new bearing and hub back in for me. Now I have it almost back together but the axle doesn’t seem to penetrate far enough through the new hub; barely enough of the axle sticks out to get the nut started and at least 3/4″ short from enough to fully thread the axle nut in place. Any ideas? Does the new bearing require a new hub design?

  27. Great article. The rear hubs on my 2003 Forester are fine. Can I purchase all other items as shown without the hub? If so, how? and how much?

  28. I have a 2000 Forrester. I was driving my mother to a doctors appointment and the right front bearing sounded funny. So I returned home, and took another car.

    Unfortunately, my mother took ill and the Forrester stayed at a garage for over six months. When I went to get it back, the mechanic told me he couldn’t fix it and now when it would roll few feet, a great banging noise happens…again and again.

    I have not had the time or money to repair it as I’ve been caring for my mom. She has now passed away and I am ready to return to my Forrester. If I knew what is wrong with it, I’d get to it. But I’d have to tow it to a Subaru dealer and then they’d have been and could do anything they want to me.

    Could you give me a few ideas what might be wrong with my Forester. It sounds like the mechanic did not know what to do with it…sent it out to a buddy who also did not know what to do…and now when they put it back together.. they missed something or some part.

    Any ideas?

    Robert McManus

    1. Hi Robert,

      Id love to help given the circumstances especially, but it could be so many different things faulty bearing install?, Axle, hub, Differential, loose bolts? , it just needs a good tech to look at it locally.

      Sorry I cant offer you more


  29. Justin, Many thanks for excellent explanation re Forester wheel bearings. Here is Australia of course it’s the LH one that goes first.My 2 litre 2000 Forester at 150000kms (90000miles) I’m facing another replacement, the first at 100000kms No idea what was fitted, I know they used a second-hand hub. Do you recommend replacing bearing and hubs when the job is done ?
    Also facing another timing belt replacement which- Subaru Australia recommend at 100K kms or 4 years. Others disagree. At the distance I have travelled they also recommend water pump, tensioners, seals etc. Incidentally some very respected Subaru mechanics here (who don’t work for Subaru dealers)tell me the possible damage to the engine in the event of timing belt failure is greatly overstated.

    1. Hello Tony,

      Yes I could see the left side going out in your part of the world, just make sure its the updated components going in this time.

      As far as the Timing belt, while the interval seems off, I can tell you that if the belt breaks it will be nothing short of very Expensive and super inconvenient.

      Anything newer than 1996 will most likely bend valves in the event of a timing belt failure which just wont be cheap.

      Hope that helps


    2. Tony, if there is one thing I can sincerely recommend to you, it is to protect your cylinder heads. Your car is getting close to 200k, you should replace your radiator, pump, thermostat and hoses. Mine was 230k when the radiator gave out and after spending about 5k, including replacing heads I was only able to get it back on the road. While the radiator is out get your belts changed, seals and pulley bearings.

    3. From what I’ve seen in other forums, the timing belt for Subarus fail somewhere in the 130-160k mile range. And yes, it will be a costly repair of that happens, especially on DOHC engines.

      I replaced the timing belt, pulleys, and thermostat on my ’04 Forester XS at 125,000 miles, so about 200,000 km. Also replaced the water pump and thermostat gaskets. Probably could have gone to 150,000 miles as everything looked in good shape, but didn’t want to risk it.

  30. I have a 2000 Forester with 117k on the odometer. In the past 2 years, I’ve had to replace the driver’s rear wheel bearing twice and the passenger’s side once (the pasenger’s side is ready again I think). With the first driver’s side rear bearing, it took me awhile to figure what the noise was. The repair cost me ab out $100 for parts and the local machine shop to press old bearing out & the new one in. That bearing lasted less than one year/12000 miles! I had it replaced with a premium bearing & have not had problems. When I had the passenger’s side bearing replaced, I thought the issues would be gone, but I’m looking at replacing it with a premium bearing (about $135 for parts & the machine shop pressing the bearing).

    When I first priced out having the work done at one of the local automotive repair chains, the estimate was about $325 parts & labor. An added plus is that there’s no sales tax in Delaware!. Nonetheless, I’m not happy about wheel bearings not lasting long at all! I would typically expect them to last the life of the car, but that’s clearly not the case.

    However, I’d rather have low-level mechanical issues to deal with than difficult & expensive electronics/emission control ones.

      1. I had my right rear wheel bearing replaced last year at a Subaru dealership with the newest design bearings. Now, a year and 20,000 miles later, it needs replaced again. This will be the third bearing replacement on that hub. (Mechanic said the one they replaced was non-Subaru aftermarket.) I’ve heard other Subaru owners give similar stories.

        This time I am thinking of just putting a used hub on my car instead of paying the crazy price for the bearing replacement.

        1. JT

          If you only got 20k out of the updated bearings that tells me they were not properly packed with grease before install which is actually common place at a Subaru dealer.

          The updated bearings come packed with “packing grease” clear in color, that should be cleaned out and then proper high temperature wheel bearing grease packed in the bearing before pressed into the Hub.

          Want you wont hear abut is multiple rear wheel bearing replacements when the job is done at a good independent that understands the right way to service the vehicle.

          Sorry to hear you have yet to receive good value but the used part thing is not really the best way to go.


          1. I showed your comments about packing the bearing with grease to my local subaru dealer when my 04 forester needed a right rear bearing. He stated that the installation instructions were NOT to repack the oem bearing with grease. Now not 2 years later I need a new right rear bearing.

            This is an old post…is it still your best practice to pack the wheel bearing with lithium high pressure hypoid grease? I guess I will need to take it to an independent who will do that for me.

          2. Hi Mark,

            The bearings do not come with installation instruction! The grease that is shipped with the Updated Bearing manufactured from NTN should be cleaned out and a high temperature wheel bearing grease should be used instead to achieve the long lasting repair we all want, instead the guys at the Dealer take every short cut they can and then say silly stuff to protect those actions.


          3. Aren’t the newer bearings sealed and impossible to pack with grease. I have a 2000 Impreza L and suffered another rear wheel bearing failure. The shop that was doing the earlier repair told me the OEM bearings are sealed and cannot be packed with grease. I am about to have the repair done again. Please help.

          4. Hi Dan,

            They can be packed with grease during installation, they are not however serviceable AFTER installation.

            For the 2000 Impreza the rear bearing has an updated part, but only, and I mean only if you get it from Subaru or a shop like mine that keeps up on superseeded parts and the reasons why.

            Its not normal to need to replace the updated part all that often

            Hope that helps


      2. Hello Justin
        I have a question I have a 2011 Subaru outback with 197000 miles. Just had lower control arms replaced last week due to our lovely pot holes. However Monday nite on my way home from work the front end rattled like I had just hit a dirt road doing 50 miles an hour.
        Then just as I gently pushed on the break the passenger tire turned inwards towards drivers side and made a loud scraping sound. Had it towed home and had someone look at it. They said I needed a new CV axel and 2 sway bar link kits. Said that the cup on transmission that the u joints on the axel, came out. Sounds like a costly fix. What could of caused this to happen?

        1. Hi Jessica,

          Its really hard to say what caused all of that to happen, but I would start by suggesting whomever looked at the car last to suggest the control arms might not have approached your car as whole car, meaning look the entire car over before suggesting repairs, that way there is a comprehensive plan rather than the experience you are having.

          Having said all that, I would not trust a parking lot diagnoses, it needs to go to a good Independent Subaru shop

          Couple of points;

          The front CV axle does not have U joints. It uses Constant Velocity Joints, hence the name “CV”
          If the axle did actually come apart most likely it was aftermarket and not OE
          Sway bar end links should have been addressed with the control arms

          Hope that helps


  31. Is there a special tool that is needed to take off a wheel bearing for a 1997 subaru impreza? One place I took the car too said they couldnt do it because of this?
    thank you

    1. If you don’t already have one, I suggest the Hayne’s Manual. It gives information in a format that’s easy to understand. I have a 2000 Forester, which is treated differently in the Hayne’s Manuals in that Forester bearings need to be pressed by a machine shop. I’ve found the local cost to be very reasonable. Impreza and Outbacks supposedly can be done by the DIY mechanic. For the cost & time factors, I’d opt to send the hub out locally to have the bearing & seals replaced.

      1. The Haynes Manual is a non professional manual that leaves a lot to be desired. You would be much better off with the Subaru Factory Manual full of Factual Information about Your Subaru, its worth the extra cost for a Home Gamer

  32. Hi Justin,
    Thanks for the great article on the Forester bearings. My question is: do I buy replacement bearings from the dealer or can I purchase some other brand (e.g., Koyo) at an online site ?
    Thanks again!

  33. Hi Justin,
    Thanks for an informative article. I live in Australia where we drive on the left hand side of the road. Would it be fair to say that I’m likely to experience this problem more on the left hand wheel bearing? I had the rear left replaced 2 years ago on my 2000 forester and have done roughly 24 thousand miles since and it sounds like it’s beginning to go again.

  34. hey there, I just got back from my repair guy for the ususal maintainenc(oil chg/ tire rotation) and I mentioned to him that my car was really ‘clacking’ a lot when it was cold. As it warmed up the the noice susbsided (never went comepletely away). He told me I needed my rings replaced. I guess I was wondering whether a 2003 outback wagon (4cy 2.1 ltr) with 150K on it should need it and shouldn’t he have tested something before makeing the determination? He has me wondering if I should get rid of this car that I love! Thank for having this site! Amy

  35. Thanks for the site and article. My 98 outback ltd has the right rear howl. Time to replace I guess. I’ve done several front wb subies but no rear. Specifically is there an upgraded bearing for the outback? I have access to a press. Any other special tools needed? Thanks again. Bob

  36. Darcy,

    I don’t to often put out a step by step process on this site, unless I am greatly worried that with out some solid information a consumer may be burned, or a shop come to the wrong conclusion as is the case with the power steering article.

    The second wheel bearing article is written, just no time for the pictures as of yet. Probably February or so.

    Thanks for taking the time to post on the website.


  37. Looking forward to the Outback wheel bearing article.

    I guess the lack of any step-by-step, do-it-yourself instructions about the Forester wheel bearing in this article would suggest that it is not the kind of job to be done without pro help?

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