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Rear Axle/Hub/Bearing Alignment Maintenance

Does anyone else have an issue with their Forester's rear hubs wearing out quickly? I purchased my '99 Forester in '06 from a used car dealer. At the time it had brand new tires. While driving I heard a sound like off-road tires on pavement and assumed it was the new tires. It wasn't super loud so I didn't think anything of it until three or four months later when it was still there and getting louder. I took the car to my mechanic and he said the rear hub and bearings were worn out and needed to be replaced. I figured it would probably be one time thing so I got it done and that was that.
About 2-2.5 years later the sound had returned. I had moved in the meantime and my new mechanic said this was a fairly common problem with Foresters and that it would need to be fixed periodically but that getting the rear wheels aligned in addition to the front from time to time would help. He said this was because instead of the rear wheels being pulled along as in a FWD vehicle they provided power and when they got out of alignment they wore out the hub very quickly. So i repaired it again and started looking for a Haynes or Chilton book for the Forester so that I could look into repairing/replacing the hubs and bearings myself. There is no aftermarket book on the '99 Forester and the parts are the bulk of the cost of the repair (at least at my last mechanic).
Now, it's about 4 years later and I know I need to get the issue addressed again soon. So my questions are as follows:
1) Is this a common problem with Forester's?
2) If you've dealt with this as well, how do you handle it?
3) Is there a way for me to do this maintenance on my own to save a little?
4) Does anyone have any suggestions for good mechanics in the NoVa area (specifically Eastern Loudoun county)?



  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The early wheel bearings were a weak spot, indeed.

    You could have them replaced with the sealed type that were used in the heavier Legacy, though, and those were longer lasting.
  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    The wheel bearings were changed, a special tool was recommended to avoid deforming the wheel bearing housing, and it was recommended not to loosen or tighten the axle nut until the car was in the air with the wheel removed, and to not use air tools on the nut. There are also several other recommended procedures that the non-Subaru mechanic might not know to follow.
    Subaru says failure to have the right tool and follow the right procedures is what causes repeated bearing failures.
    Subaru's End Wrench publication had several articles on doing wheel bearings, which I have in PDF.
  • So a Subaru dealer will be able to provide a new set of bearings that should not have the same issue of wearing out frequently?
    Also, could you post a link to the PDF you mentioned?

  • aathertonaatherton Posts: 617
    A Subaru dealer has a better chance of having the right tool, and having the right training and tech bulletins, to change the bearings so they don't wear out again soon.
    I collected some PDF files, evidently from Endwrench. But you just can't go to and find them. It is an odd site as you will see. If I had your email I could send them to you.
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