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Rear Wheel Bearing failure - too early

At 46,400 miles of gentle driving, my left wheel bearing failed on my 2010 Prius, which was not covered by warranty because it is not ‘drive train’.
I was told there was nothing I did or could have done to cause this, and paid $460 to replace.
I have had 4 Toyotas, two with over 200,000 miles, and never had this serious a repair (that wasn’t my fault!).
Am I being unreasonable to think this is unusual? I’m wondering if this car is going to continue to be a problem.

I appreciate whatever reasoned opinions you may have - thanks, CJ

It was probably damaged at the factory when it was manufactured or installed, but if the shop did not notice anything else unusual when they replaced it, I would not expect a repeat failure or a pattern of problems with the car.

A wheel bearing is not part of the drive train? Come on, Toyota!

It was too early to fail but parts have failed at a lot less than 46,400 miles. I would not expect a repeat of the failure. The bearing on the other wheel is OK, right?

It is unusual for it to fail this early. On that basis, I would have made some noise with Toyota about it.

However, wheel bearings are wear and tear items, and would almost never fall under any kind of powertrain warranty. I would not call this a “serious” repair. Its a fairly typical kind of repair - though, as noted, not for this mileage. You chalk it up to weird stuff/luck and move on.

Wheel bearing problems are not unheard of in the Prius but, it is very unusual for a wheel bearing to fail at 46K. Even the Dealer agrees it was a defect in the part. Since you are barely out of the warranty you can try appealing to Toyota to cover the repair. Contact their Customer Experience Center. I wouldn’t view this as a sign of bad things to come.

MTraveler is right on…A couple of things…first; you are absolutely right that a wheel bearing should not have to be replaced at this mileage. Secondly, $460 is WAAY too high a price and I assume Toyota dealership a did it. In the future or now if you are willing, you can do what I am doing. Call the main office of customer complaints/relations and negotiate a reimbursement for the repair job.

I have a position switch I was told was faulty as the light for the 4wd actuator did not always come come on though it did appear to go into 4wd when driving. The truck is well past the warranty period being a 2004, but Toyota agreed to a reimbursement for the repair job of about $450 for a new actuator which includes the switch.

I had to have Toyota service do it, pay myself and submit a claim. I was told it was pre approved and my return check would be expedited with submission of the work order, proof of payment and registration. It’s fairly common on their part if you are persistent and go right to the top and are willing to wait through the darn phone lines. Considering it’s 8 years old and I’m getting help, you are in a much better position.

It may not be too late. Call and get your paper work in order and whine a lot as to how you feel and how unfair the situation is and how poorly it was engineered. You expected more from Toyota cars and you are a loyal customer etc.politely of course. They WILL listen. I think you can get some results.

“A wheel bearing is not part of the drive train?”

The OP did tell us that the wheel bearing in question was one of the rear wheel bearings.
On a FWD car like the Prius, this would not be part of the drivetrain.

That being said, this is early for any bearing failure.
Several years back, Subaru had a run of defective rear wheel bearings on Forester models, and there was a high incidence of bearing failure ~40k-50k miles. Subaru did reimburse Forester owners after warranty expiration, under a good-will policy–but only if assistance was requested by the owners.

I would expect Toyota to extend similar good-will help in this situation, so I would urge the OP to press ahead with a polite, sanely-worded request for help from Toyota.

Thank you all for the comments. I have contacted Toyota Customer Service, and have not heard back.
So I called a couple times more. Hopefully, the whining will work. Yes, I got the repair at a dealer.
I’m hoping that will look good for my case. I will update when I get word from Toyota.

I would complain hard to Toyota.

My 2005 Legacy GT wagon had them fail at 99k and they covered them. The dealer noticed it during a test drive (I thought it was tires) and fixed free without asking.

Apparently a cruddy design in 2005 for turbo Subaru Legacy and turbo Outback models.

Here’s hoping Toyota helps, but you’re well past the 36k warranty period. A small % of all parts will fail unexpectedly. Sorry you had the bad luck.

Driving through rain water pools can also contribute to wheel bearing failure. This is something often done by many with no thought at all given to whether deep water will affect the bearings or suspension components. When friction heated bearing meets cold water the heat will have a tendency to draw moisture in and over time the bearing will fail due to this.

It’s the same principle with boat trailers. People drive to the lake from a 100 miles away and back those hot wheel bearings into cold lake water rather than allowing the trailer to sit for an hour or so before unloading the boat. Later on, the trailer may be seen on the side of the highway with a missing wheel… :frowning:

46K miles on a 2010 seems very premature failure to me. These bearings are “sealed” meaning no lubrication and no owner maintenance could prevent failure. Short of driving through a river bed with water up to and perhaps over the door sills, there is nothing an owner could do to cause this. I think you can get some relief from Toyota on this one.

It may help to put out the I’m going to report this to NHSTA. This “defect” could cause wheels to fall off and you might as well file a report on a potential safety issue.

Unusual yes, but not unheard of. I had a wheel bearing fail at 20,000 on my new Olds. The other three lasted 240,000. It’s just statistics and the bell shaped curve. A few parts will fail quickly, a few hardly ever, and most in the middle.

I agree 46K miles is very low mileage for a wheel bearing failure. I had one rear bearing on my '88 Ford Escort last over 400K miles before finally having to replace it and when I did replace it, it was a simple job I could do myself in about 15 minutes. I think the bearing was about $10, but your bearings are sealed bearings and mine were easily accessible for removing and repacking. I’d also recommend talking to Toyota. Be sure to mention you’re a loyal customer. I’d do the same thing with Ford if it were one of my cars. I own 7 Ford products with a total of over 1M miles on them. In 36 years of driving I’ve had one wheel bearing fail with less than 200K miles on it and it had just been replaced 10-20K miles before it went out. I suspect the garage that pressed the bearing into the hub damaged it, being the reason for it’s short life.

Well, 46K miles for a wheel bearing failure is a little early, but it’s out of warranty, and you own the car and therefore are on the hook for paying for maintenance and repair. Just because the bearing failed now does not mean there was inferior workmanship or quality in the part. Perhaps that big jarring pothole last year started the bearing toward premature failure. Or that rainstorm 3 months ago that flooded one lane of the freeway might have caused some moisture to enter the hub assembly. Or, sometimes, for no particular reason at all, things break. Any moving part is going to fail, it’s just a gamble as to when.

As far as the price, dealer list price for that part is actually less than aftermarket. So I’d say you paid a fair price.

My 2005 Prius front and rear bearings went after 60K miles. Is it possible that Toyota, in an effort to keep the car’s weight down, made them in a less durable?

It is rare for a rear wheel bearing to fail this early, but not unheard of. But, when it was replaced, it wasn’t just the wheel bearing, the whole hub assembly has to be replaced. The bearing itself is not replaceable.

This should be a 90,000 mile part minimum. Talk to the zone representative, the dealer failed to do his job. @ok4450, there is technology called a bearing seal that stops water casually entering a bearing. It was invented about 80 years ago. I do not think the op really parked the car in 12 inches of water often.

$460 seems spendy for a wheel bearing and it is also way too early in its life.

The dealer, if they had any kind of conscience, should just fix it as a good faith repair. Those thing just shouldn’t fail like that.
I’d contact the manufacturer and see what they can do for you.

I fully agree that a wheel bearing failure at low miles should not occur but it can and does happen.
Driving through pooled water, severe pothole, curb strike, etc are just a few reasons other than a factory installation fault why one could fail.

As far as I know, boat trailer wheel bearings also have seal technology and more than one boat owner has had their rig sitting on the side of the roadway sans wheel and hub due to moisture getting past a seal.

Every time I watch the local news when heavy rains have been present the reporter always shows countless cars plowing ahead through bumper deep water. Some of those cars dont’ even make it and stall out. Stalled out or not, my thought every time I see a report like this is that those people driving so nonchalantly through deep water have no idea what they could possibly be doing to wheel bearings, suspension components, and so on.