Your Subaru Wheel bearings Explained.
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.
This is the old on the left, the updated in the middle with the release in the race
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks for reading