Subaru Legacy/Outback Wheel bearing failure

outdoors84102outdoors84102 Member Posts: 1
I just had to replace a right-rear wheel bearing in a 2006 Outback 2.5 XT wagon at 15,300 miles!!!

I found a bunch of posts on premature wheel bearing failures on older models -- 1998 to 2001.

Is this a chronic problem with Subarus or is an old problem resurfacing? Is there anything to be done to make sure that if the problem continues past the warranty coverage that the costs will be covered by Subaru?
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Comments

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    It was common in 1998-2002 Foresters, and on some Imprezas, up to 2001 I think.

    Ironically the fix was to upgrade to the Legacy's design, so we even had the part numbers handy for Forester/Impreza owners.

    I haven't seen too many post 2003 Subarus with the problem, so let's hope it's an anomaly.
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    Yes the "older" ones used ball-bearings IIRC whereas the legacy used barrel bearings. The Barrel style allowed the weight to be spread over a greater area. I haven't seen many new subies with bearing problems.

    -mike
  • erik9erik9 Member Posts: 25
    my 07 forester just had four wheel bearings replaced, three at 5000 miles and one at 13000.. and that didnt fix the problem..what a pile of krap this car is,i will never buy another subaru..
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaMember Posts: 15,847
    Sounds to me like the bearings were not the problem, yet they bore the blame. :P
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I suggest taking longer test drives.

    Why would you buy a vehicle that was a pile of krap? :confuse:
  • erik9erik9 Member Posts: 25
    I will definitely never buy another subaru,their cars and customer service both suck..what a rip off!
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    Ok wonderful, out of your 5 posts on Edmunds, they are all bashing Subarus. Unfortunately that is not what this site is all about. If you'd like to be a community member you are going to need to put up more than just bashing posts. Perhaps give the story of why you think they are "crap" considering they are in the top 2 in terms of reliability, 2nd only to Honda.

    -mike
  • erik9erik9 Member Posts: 25
    Mike,

    Obviously you didnt read my posts, my subaru forester is pile of junk BECAUSE,
    1) THE TRANSMISSION slipped from day one and was replaced with a remanufactured trans by the dealer at 5000 miles .new car rebuilt trans BS !

    2) The car drives terrible and feels unsafe at freeway speeds..

    3) The car has had four wheel bearings replaced in less than thirteen thousand miles..

    4) The car has a terrible axle shaft or drivetrain vibration that two dealers have been unable to fix...

    5) The car has been a complete rattle trap from day one and still has issues

    6) I am finding many other forester owners with the same complaints and i think a class action lawsuit against subaru might give us a small amount of justice

    Thank you for your concern,btw do you work for subaru or what?

    Erik
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    Nope, I don't work for Subaru. But 1 bad car does not make the whole brand bad. I'm sorry you have had so many problems and as I posted in one of the other threads perhaps you had an in-transit damaged vehicle. Something to look into.

    -mike
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    The car has been a complete rattle trap from day one

    I refuse to believe that.

    From day one?

    You mean you test drove it, concluded it was a rattle trap, and then gave the dealer money for it?

    Sorry, that doesn't add up.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaMember Posts: 15,847
    I agree that these cars can be "rattle traps." I have had two in the past year that I would classify under that category, but the rattles have grown in scope since day one. On my '08, even the glove box was quiet on day one.

    That does not make it any less frustrating now. I tell you what, nothing has ever put a bigger smile on my face (other than the day my wife agreed to marry me... haha, what a mistake on her part!) than the first day I drove my '08 after having driven 2500 miles over 5 days in an F350 crew cab towing 14,000#! It was just me, the empty car, a nice, twisty road, and not a single rattle to be heard.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Rattles, yes, plausible.

    Rattle trap from day one, no. Not plausible. He would not have bought it.

    Also, wheel bearings should be replaced in pairs, for balance.

    How did they replace 3, then 1 more later? Both odd numbers.

    Something is wrong here, at the very minimum that dealer was completely incompetent.
  • erik9erik9 Member Posts: 25
    Yes it was a rattle trap from day one,as soon as i got it home and pre delivered it myself(removed all the plastic etc) and took it on a long drive the rattles presented themselves quite noticeably,bought on sat afternoon returned to dealer mon afternoon..i have a one inch thick pile of repair orders to prove it..it took the dealers five attempts to fix the hatchback alone,the dash board still vibrates and the glove box latch ticks almost constantly..when i drive this car it gives me road rage, yes three bearings were replaced at one time by the first dealer.So does the subaru factory repair manual specify that the bearings should always be replaced in pairs??? thanks,

    Erik
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    Sorry Juice, never have I heard or replaced wheel bearings in pairs.

    Axles, maybe.

    But never wheel bearings, and I've done several on impezas and my race cars over the years. We have a bearing press in our shop which we use for that purpose almost exclusively.

    -mike
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    If one fails, isn't the other one (on the same axle) overburdened?

    I had one bad one on our Mazda 626, they replaced the pair. :confuse:
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    It shouldn't be over burdened. The Wheel bearing basically supports the weight of the car if it's failed then the weight start to rub on the races and the other components on that sides suspension.

    -mike
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    I think you may be thinking of the Axle or CV which I'd suggest to replace in pairs, but even then it's not necessary.

    -mike
  • jsadlerjsadler Member Posts: 2
    I just had my Left front wheel bearing replaced, 03 Baja with 70k. $585 total. $65 for bearing and 5 hrs work. I have had this vehicle for 18 months and put 30K on it. I live in San Diego. The cost seems a little excessive to me, so I am looking more input.
  • grahampetersgrahampeters AustraliaMember Posts: 1,786
    G'day

    Usually, if a wheel bearing required replacement it has been as a consequence of the flexible rubber boot over the joint being pierced and the joint losing lubrication.

    Five hours sound like about the right time adn labour rates can be checked byu calling a couple of local garages - rates vary depending upon dealers location and cost structure.

    Cheers

    Graham
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I dunno, seems a bit high to me.

    In another thread someone paid $200 to have an axle boot replaced. That should be a similar amount of work (remove caliper, rotor, etc.).

    I haven't done it before, but it seems kinda high. You sure they didn't do anything else?
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaMember Posts: 15,847
    This is only a wheel bearing we are discussing here, not a CV joint or boot. Five hours to replace a wheel bearing? What, was it an amateur technician doing the work? I say you were overcharged. If their shop rate is $104 an hour, they darn well better be doing quality, efficient work. Five hours does not meet criterion number two.

    As with what juice said.... that was the only work they did?
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • jsadlerjsadler Member Posts: 2
    It was a left front wheel bearing nothing else. I do a little of my own work but haven't messed with WB's in about 25 years and wasn't sure of my abilities anymore. The shop also wanted $400 to do front breaks and rotors but I plan on doing the breaks myself this Friday. I guess I will have to start looking for another shop. Thanks for your input.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaMember Posts: 15,847
    Well, I have not replaced any wheel bearings on a Subaru, but I replaced a couple half-shafts (bad CV joints), so I know the work that goes into tearing down the system to the point you can replace the bearing. The whole axle replacement job took me about an hour and a half for each side. So, assuming that long, maybe an extra 30 minutes to replace the bearing itself, where did the other three hours go?
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    Guys I think we may be missing something here...

    Axles/CVs on a Subaru is relatively quick and easy.

    Bearing on the other hand is a PITA.

    The whole entire assembly of the knuckle and hub must be removed from the vehicle, then you need to press the bearing out. If the wheel bearing is shot to the point where it damaged the knuckle then you have to replace that as well. It's not a simple pull out the bearing thing, at least on all but the 05+ legacies.

    However with that said the price is usually in the $300-400 range, I've seen it at dealers as high as $600.

    -mike
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Thanks for the insight, mike.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaMember Posts: 15,847
    Indeed. I did not realize the bearing required a press, though I stand by my statement that tearing down the car to the point where the bearing can be removed is fairly quick. It still makes me wonder about five hours worth of labor. $3-400? I could accept that.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I thought newer models were sealed up so you just replaced the whole thing rather than pressing a new one in, but mike has lots more experience working on cars so I'll defer to him.
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    The 05+ Legacies have a new style bearing that doesn't require a press.

    I would think the Tribeca and 08+ Imprezas have this style as well.

    -mike
  • jkljkl3636jkljkl3636 Member Posts: 1
    Guys, just a insurance fight over recent repair, a deer slammed my front end drivers side against wheel, needed replacement of the corner panel, drivers door, un-wrindkle the hood, driver headlight. All cosmetic work was great, left collison shop to a load road noise in front wheel. Found out the wheel bearing on front drivers side where deer hit needed replacement. Had the big fight, goe through ranks , to get them to cover repair. The 2nd level adjuster told me to ask anyone in the industry. They said no way accident caused wheel bearing damage. It was a 2004 grand am 41,000, has a sealed bearing , no outward damage to tire or bearing. 2nd level adjuster said 99.9 % not caused by accident , just normal wear, wearable part . Did the bearing just wear out right after the accident and as soon as I left collision center ??? Well they paid it but told me so!!!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    If it happened within a week or so, I'd say the accident caused it to fail.

    For sure it puts stress on the bearing.
  • jp01innyjp01inny Member Posts: 2
    FYI... I just had to replace BOTH rear wheel bearings on my 2005 Outback wagon @ 32,000 miles. :surprise: This is a little bit disconcerting for the mileage. Also, our family has had 3, 1998-2003 subaru's all over 80,000 miles and with no previous wheel bearing problems. :) My cousin has a legacy also without wheel bearing problems. I am really glad it was covered under warranty. I'm chalking it up to first year new body/mechanical style glitches. I hope there aren't other problems. But I have Subaru Gold 100,000 mile warranty just in case. (should have bought an '06?? ;) could the rear have been improperly tied down in transit? :confuse:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Bearing failures were actually more common before, especially on 2002 and earlier Foresters and 2001 and earlier Imprezas.
  • seanuseanu Member Posts: 7
    About 5 weeks ago, I received a notice from Subaru about a known problem with my 2005 Outback rear wheel bearings. I don't have the exact wording handy, but the gist was that if they get noisy, bring the car in for a free repair. Low and behold, 2 weeks ago, I noticed a noise that could only be tire noise or wheel bearing related. My wife brings the car in this week, and sure enough the bearings are bad. Dealer is waiting for parts, but repair will be under warranty. Car is at 56k miles. Hopefully the new bearings will have a bit longer life.

    Sean
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    Yeah I got the same notice. I'm not sure how far they extend the warranty, I think 100k miles.

    -mike
  • erik9erik9 Member Posts: 25
    Sean,

    My 2007 forester had four wheel bearings replaced within the first 13,000 miles..Thanks to a great atty. (Brian bickel law firm) Subaru bought my car back at full price and paid my atty. fees...I would sell that pile asap! good luck..

    Erik... :lemon:
  • erik9erik9 Member Posts: 25
    Funny! when the dealer replaced the bearing on my new forester the service adviser called in the parts mgr. and they both gave me a line of bull about how they have'nt had to replace any wheel bearings on a forester in fifteen years! what a bunch of liars and losers..

    Erik :P
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    You had a bad dealer, don't hold that against SOA....

    -mike
  • erik9erik9 Member Posts: 25
    Mike,

    Sorry but to burst your subaru love bubble but the area rep and subaru customer service were just as bad..I am very shocked that subaru is finally starting to admit that their cars have serious wheel bearing issues.There were alot of owners out there wanting to petition the ntsb about it...Well, my subaru nightmare is finally over hopefully it will fade quickly from memory...

    Erik :sick:
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    It's been a known issue on the imprezas from 92->01 and on the Foresters from 98->02 well documented in the Subaru community. They used ball bearings instead of the roller bearings found in the Legacy. SVX also had issues with their bearings due to over-torquing at the factory and/or dealers.

    How were they "bad" you should qualify that. Did they refuse to replace the bearings? Doubtful. Chances are the dealer who replaced them, did not re-install them properly (over torquing of the bearings kills them off the bat).

    I don't have a "love bubble" for Subaru, heck I only own 1 Subaru right now along with my Armada and my next car will likely not even be a Subaru (unless the next legacy grows in size). I just don't like folks coming on here with un-quantified statements making claims against manufacturers and/or other users.

    -mike
  • erik9erik9 Member Posts: 25
    Mike,

    YOU are the one coming onto this forum making UNQUALIFIED statements,as a host on this forum you should be ashamed.You and the rest of your cronies on this forum were no help whatsoever when i only came here for help and insight into my problem forester..So mike, you are now claiming to be more knowledgable than two subaru dealerships,a regional subaru rep and soa customer service? what a crock! get a life! :P
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    Since you don't know my background, yes, I'm more qualified than those folks listed. I won't write up a resume here but let's say in the Subaru community and at SOA, I'm well respected and my reputation for knowledge of Subies.

    -mike
  • erik9erik9 Member Posts: 25
    Mike,

    Since you obviously didnt read my earlier posts why are you even bothering to comment now..? The first mechanic that attempted to repair my forester was a shop foreman at the dealership with twenty five years of experience working on subarus..How many years experience do you have?Maybe you can start a new career repairing all the subaru lemons since you're so well respected by soa! The mechanic at the second dealer was also a very experienced troubleshooter,he had the car for four days and still coudlnt fix it either..What was your earlier suggestion?that they both over torqued the bearings? It doesnt matter what type of bearings subaru uses they all have above average failure rates.

    :P
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    I have 10+ years working on Subarus and own my own performance shop that works not only on the run of the mill subies, but also racecars that put up with a lot of bearing pounding on the track. Did they replace your knuckles? Generally if a wheel bearing fails more than 1x or if there is excessive wear on on the knuckles where the bearings are pressed in, they also need to be replaced. These are mechanical components, there is no mystery to how they work.

    -mike
  • erik9erik9 Member Posts: 25
    Mike,

    Like i said before the service mgrs and mechanics ignored my theories of cvc joints or other components causing the problem..They used a device called the "EAR" that pinpoints the problem..Do you own one of these? Excessive wear on a knuckle on a car that has less than a thousand miles on it?Over the last twenty five years i have owned more than ten cars with over 100.000 miles on them and never had a bearing failure or had to replace a transmission..You must be a busy man working on all that subaru junk...
    :lemon:
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    FYI, on Subarus and any car that has sealed style bearings, if the bearing fails the bits and pieces wear on the surface where the bearing is pressed into the knuckle. If the bearing failed and they put a new one in w/o properly inspecting and likely replacing the knuckle, then any future bearings that are pressed into their place will also fail.

    On a side note ALL MECHANICAL PARTS CAN and DO FAIL, no matter if it's the best brand or the worst brand.

    -mike
  • erik9erik9 Member Posts: 25
    Mike, i have to give you credit at least your excuses are more creative than subaru and their staff.I am a small business owner myself.Everything i make has an unconditional guarantee,if what i make is defective or cannot be repaired the first time to my customers satisfaction it is immediately replaced or they will recieve a full refund.I make no excuses for my products and i dont have to lie or decieve anyone to sell my products.Wouldnt it be nice if subaru treated its customers the same as i do..
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    Same here, we've gone to far lengths to make our custys happy as well. Unfortunately big business doesn't always work that way. I'm not sure you would have had any better results with other auto-manufacturers, unfortunately. I've heard similar stories from just about ever manufacturer across the board about warranty repairs, except for the luxury lines, but usually those people trade or lease their cars after 2 or 3 years so little issues they don't care about. :(

    -mike
  • erik9erik9 Member Posts: 25
    Mike,

    When i took my car to the second dealer,on every occasion there were two or three newer 05,06 and 07 outbacks sitting in the service area with their engines removed..Any ideas on this?? because at one point i considered trading my forester for an outback but soa reneged on the offer.. :confuse:
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    No idea, maybe that dealer pulls engines because they don't have very good diagnostic skills? or feel they have to pull it more often? Very rarely have I heard of any wide-spread engine-grenading issues, especially on 03+ engines. We all know about the head gasket issue on the pre 03 2.5L engines, especially the DOHC ones.

    -mike
  • gearhead8gearhead8 Member Posts: 12
    Graham,
    I think you are confusing the wheel bearing wti the CV joint. CV joint ofter fail as a result of a brolen boot that allows the CV bearing grease to become contminated with water and abrasive dirt.
    The wheel bearing seals are located in a more protected area at the wheel hub, where damage is less likely.
    If the vehicle is driven off road, CV joint boot damage can occur very easily. Anyone who drives off road must frequently inspect the CV joint boots or suffer the cosequnces of expensive CV joint replacement.
    gearhead4
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