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Subaru Legacy/Outback Wheel bearing failure



  • lupinelupine Posts: 1
    First time poster, so be gentle :)

    $200 for the parts to do it yourself?

    Rear right bearings are failing on our 1995 Subaru Legacy LS wagon, and just got a quote for $370 + tax from our local Subaru shop (not a dealership). Parts are much cheaper, and I believe I could do it myself, with the help of a auto mech friend of ours (Ford), but reading through the forums and seeing all the different part options makes me a bit nervous. Off topic, but going to replace the shocks at the same time (190k on the original set would infer that they're due lol).
  • blackbeanblackbean Posts: 100
    My front right bearing went at 77k on my '02 bean. It was $414.03 at the Subie dealer. I actually asked them to replace both front bearings and they said it was not needed. I guess back in the day (25 years ago), as a backyard mechanic I would just make a day out of it and replace all of them thinking that if one went, they were all close...maybe true for my old 67 Volvo, but the bearings on Subies should last for 150-200k (unless ther eis a defect and premature failure) according to the dealer.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,509
    That should be right. I put 220K on my '96 Outback with no wheel bearing problems whatsoever.
  • garyg1054garyg1054 Posts: 4
    First of all, let me state that we just bought our fifth Subaru. We only still have four of the five, because the 2003 Outback was lost in an underground garage flood.(We now have two Outbacks and two Impreza Sports). All have run exceptionally well, in my humble opinion. They have been safe cars for my children. I have owned two Toyotas and two Hondas in my 38 years of driving and the Subarus are at least as well made. The Odysseys have had ongoing transmission and catalytic converter problems documented at the Ody club site. The Subarus are better made than the Mazda and Nissan which I formerly owned. The '98 Outback had the gasket problem. Anyway, I will get to the point. I wrote last fall to this forum to inquire into the potential of a wheel bearing failure in my '05 Outback Legacy, but it turned out to be a brake issue. I am now newly hearing a rather loud (and never before heard) noise from the rear at low speed while the engine is cold, and it is a little intermittent. It sounds like metal scraping on metal but might have a little grinding mixed in. The noise disappears at higher speeds when the engine is warm. The noise tends to most often occur while making a turn at low speed when it seems to echo off the walls of the underground parking facility. Just a few weeks ago I had the transmission and transaxles flushed for the first time (at 58k miles). Is it possible that the oil in the differential was not replaced? While I no longer do my own repairs, I foolishly think that I can understand the mechanics of the car well enough. This noise has me stumped, though I have never really had a bad wheel bearing before. I have read thru all of the prior 95 messages in this forum, and no one provides a basic explanation of the noises and symptoms which lead to a diagnosis of a wheel bearing (or CV joint) failure. Would one of the pros (like paisan Mike, or kcram) explain symptoms and clues? Would the noise of a bad wheel bearing be constant? Is is always a grinding noise? Could it occur as I have described? Would the car ride any differently, such as with a slight vibrational up and down movement? Almost all of the posts in this forum seem to assume that the diagnosis has been already been made. What should I expect to occur? I do have the 80,000 mile Subaru extended warrant-the car now has 59,950 on it. For repairs, I switch back and forth between a good local mechanic and my dealer, depending on the issue, level of expertise involved, warranty coverage, etc. but that assumes that I have a good idea of the problem. Thanks guys, I appreciate your willingness to impart your knowledge. Postscript after reading prior messages: erik9 may have somehow bought a lemon (I never heard of self-prep on a new car) but he really was determined for a good while to just show up at the forum and bad mouth the entire brand. If many people really had his experience then the brand would be in bankruptcy.....Thanks again.
  • I'm glad I found this thread and read about this extended warranty. On the way home tonight (cold out!) on the parkway I started hearing loud strange growl and pitch from the right rear on my 2005 Outback with 64K.

    I'm like ARE YOU KIDDING ME? It sounds like a wheel bearing. It actually made noise also as I was slowing down... then after I pulled into a parking lot to check it out, it went away. See what happens tomorrow.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Usually the pitch of the noise will vary with speed, i.e. higher as you increase speeds.

    Our 626 went "chunk chunk Chunk CHUNK CHUNK CHUNK" when its bearing went bad.
  • Anyone have consistent problems with Subaru wheelbearings? I have a 99 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport with 250,000 miles on it. Engine runs great. My only real problem is the wheelbearings going out over and over again. I have replaced the wheel bearings on the car SEVEN times. The first time at 77,000 miles after the 50,000 mile warranty was expired. No one has been able to put in a wheelbearing that lasts more than 50,000 miles and no one has been able to tell me why they keep going out. I am the original owner/driver. The car does not carry extra weight and usually has just the driver in the car. :lemon?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    For Foresters, Subaru recommended replacing the wheel bearings with similar parts from the Legacy, which were heavier duty. You should try the same, I bet they'll fit.

    I'm surprised your mechanic wasn't aware of that, or what it a Subaru dealer? Maybe they wanted you to keep coming back, if so shame on them.
  • Hi - I've got a 2005 Legacy wagon that I bought last year at 95 km, now 112. Just found out the front bearings need replacing. Not surprised - I had been hearing a fairly loud hum that I thought was the tires combined with AWD (my first AWD vehicle). Don't know if first owner was hard on it or what, or if that can possibly make a difference with bearings. It was a lease though. I'll be forking out $720 for the two at dealer (Toronto).
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I guess you're past the powertrain warranty?
  • ahmbdmahmbdm Posts: 2
    My 2003 Baja makes a loud popping or chunking noise whenever I turn hard at low speeds (e.g. pulling out of a parking space). Had both CV axles replaced...not the problem. This happens when turning either right or left...any ideas?
    [Manual transmission...vehicle excellent other than above problem.]
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,509
    If the CV joints made no difference, it is likely a differential. Can you tell the approximate location of the noise? I suspect either a front or center differential, neither of which are cheap to fix. Basically, the sound is caused by binding in the differential that is not properly released. If you try turning sharply on a heavily graveled surface, you should be able to see one or more wheels spin out on the gravel to release the pressure rather than getting the clunk/pop noises. Or, you might get both, but with the clunk/pop less frequent and/or severe.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Also check the wheel bearings. They'd be under stress at full steering lock.
  • pilot1226pilot1226 Posts: 165
    Thought I'd add my two cents:

    While I was getting my car serviced last week, I overheard another customer and the service representative talking about Legacy (and Outback since they're essentially the same chassis) having complimentary extended maintenance on the wheel bearings because of a TSB or something along these lines that surfaced. So, the customer was happy because he got it replaced free of charge.

    As for a clunking sound, I don't have a lot of experience with AWD vehicles as this is my first, but I know that when a family member's previous car made a high pitched squeal when the power steering fluid went low. I suppose as the car warmed up and the fluid expanded (via thermal expansion) it covered more of the parts, which is why it went away after the car warmed up. A later inspection showed that the power steering reservoir/hoses had a leak so they were replaced and the problem was fixed. Could be worth checking out.
  • meadowmeadow Posts: 2
    I have a 2000 Outback Sport Impreza and I seem to be having the same problems. My car only has 71,000 on it, but I have gone through 3 bearings, just this year. Did you get any answers on why this is happening or how it can't be prevented? Thanks!
  • ahmbdmahmbdm Posts: 2
    My 2003 Baja (manual trans), at approx 85,000 miles, sustained a failure of the viscous clutch (at the center diff)...transmission was fine...NOT wheel bearings, but was told nevertheless that this should not happen with so few miles on vehicle.

    Symptoms were chunking noise when turning steering wheel hard (as in parking), particularly after vehicle had warmed up thoroughly.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I think in 2002 the Impreza switched to sealed-type bearings.

    For yours, I believe the fix is to have Legacy bearings installed, which are a bit heavier duty.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,509
    In addition, if the spindle was damaged by the failure of a previous unit but was not replaced, any subsequent bearing installed on it will be more prone to failure.
  • dcdamedcdame Posts: 24
    Just posting to report an Outback wheelbearing failure - @58K miles on my 2005 OBXT Ltd - replaced by dealer at no charge under extended warranty.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Glad to hear they covered it for you.
  • Dude, your Viscous Coupler is shot.

    It went on my 2004 Outback at 100k.
  • I bought my first Subaru in 2006. Never another! At 90K both rear wheel bearings fail, then a few weeks later the right inner cv joint boot fails (the boot is 2 inches above the catalytic converter). I called Subaru customer service regarding the wheel bearings. They extended the warranty on some 2006 Outbacks to 100k, but not mine. What not ? The wheel bearings were crap on mine too. Subaru would do nothing for me.

    I have a Honda with 285K on it, never had a bearing or drivetrain problem. I also have an Isuzu SUV with 140k, no major drivetrain issues.

    I was told that Subaru's were great, as long as you sold them before 100K because they self destruct. Now I know how good that advice was.
  • Own a 07 Outback and have replaced three wheel bearings. First at approx 58k, next at 65k and last at 79k. First under basic warranty. Second fixed by Subaru after I contacted their "customer Service." The third bearing they reimbursed me for only after writing a scathing letter to Subaru. Their reply basically stated that we will pay for the third bearing, but don't ask for any more help.
    Three wheel bearings in a vehicle with under 100k. Sounds like poor design or a bad batch of bearings. Neither of which Subaru will admit to! Like the previous post I think I'm done with Subaru. I live in upstate NY and drive in snow for 4 months and the vehicle excels at winter driving. Unfortunately I'm furious with the Subaru local dealer and their "customer service department" and will probably never purchase another Subaru again and will tell as many potential customers as I can!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You have some tough standards. By 90k miles my neighbor's Dodge Grand Caravan was on its 3rd transmission. And that's a lot bigger than a wheel bearing! :sick:

    Best of luck to you, but I really think you were simply lucky with that Honda and Isuzu.
  • emuntzemuntz Posts: 1
    My 08 OB is about to have its third wheel bearing replaced ( two in front and one in rear) with less then 58k on the vehicle. All have been replaced by Subaru at no cost. However my concern is that this will be a continuing problem. A friend bought the same type of vehicle the same day from the same dealer and he has had the same problem. Whats going on? I live in the mountains with salty road conditions. Could this be adding to the problem?

    Thought or opinions welcome.

  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Best of luck to you, but I really think you were simply lucky with that Honda and Isuzu.

    Having owned a few Isuzus in my day. They are very tough vehicles but really well built cars like them are few and far between. GM killed off Isuzu, so that's not an option.

    As for your standards, well they are pretty high. There were some issues with 05-06 Legacies and Outback bearings, bad batch. They extended the warranties to 100k miles on them.

    As for the axle boot going on a turbo car, this is fairly common on modified Outbacks/Legacies due to their proximity to the downpipe from the turbo. The stock ones have shielding to protect them but aftermarket ones don't.

    Subaru Guru and Track Instructor
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    My 08 OB is about to have its third wheel bearing replaced ( two in front and one in rear) with less then 58k on the vehicle. All have been replaced by Subaru at no cost. However my concern is that this will be a continuing problem. A friend bought the same type of vehicle the same day from the same dealer and he has had the same problem. Whats going on? I live in the mountains with salty road conditions. Could this be adding to the problem?

    Thought or opinions welcome.


    The salt could definitely part of your issue. Not much you can do about it other than to find a good local mechanic. It's about a $200 repair at an independent shop. (1 hr labor and about $125 for the part).

    Subaru Guru and Track Instructor
  • potsy536potsy536 Posts: 1
    I have a 2005 Legacy Wagon w/ 113000 miles. To date I've had no issues (I'm knocking on all the wood I can find) but I've noticed the interior noise is getting louder and louder. The tires have plenty of tread and have been rotated and the brakes are OK, could it be the wheel bearings? I live in Northern Virginia on a dirt road so there is some salt and plenty of dust.

    Also I just took it to a local shop (who I THINK I trust) for the 100,000 maintenance and they suggested replacing the water pump. Including changing all fluids and belts, etc. it was about $1200 which included 10 hours of labor at $70/per. Previous 30,000 and 60,000 maintenances were in the 300 range so I thought this was a bit high.

    Any suggestions? At $700 for labor I may try doing it myself...

    Thanks, and yea I'm new.
  • gt40mk2gt40mk2 Posts: 3
    If the noise varies with speed, and feels like a vibration, and if you notice a marginal decrease in power/speed, it could be bearings. Mine went like that and it turned out to be only the front bearings. $700 to fix and it was like new.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I had bad bearings on a Mazda 626 and noticed the same thing - pitch was speed-dependent.
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