Wheel bearing 2010 Outback; fourth passenger rear wheel bearing in a year

The subaru dealer has replaced the passenger rear wheel bearing in Dec. 2013; Apr. 2014; Aug. 2014 and checked everything they could think of as to why it would fail- checked the axle; checked alignment; proper torque; etc; and now the fourth passenger rear wheel bearing is noisy and wobbly. Any ideas I can give them when I bring it back to them this time. Driven 25 highway miles to work M-F; no dirt roads, bad roads, and no off road adventures. Thanks, Gizamatic

The only thing that I ever ran into that ruined wheel bearings like this was a truck that had a slightly bent axle. I presume the truck was in an accident and the rear wheel was struck hard enough to bend the axle. Once I replaced the axle the bearing lasted until I got rid of the truck.

Has the Outback ever been hit in an accident. Or have you ever lost control on ice and slammed into a tree or barrier wall or something.


bought the car at a local subaru dealer, one previous owner who we knew quite well and talked to frequently, no accidents and no off road use . After replacing the third wheel bearing the dealer checked the axle. thank you for your response, gizamatic

I thought about this and I remembered that the entire rear end was replaced. The axle tube was bent…not the axle.
Maybe the car was hit in a parking lot and no one knew. I don’t know if a car swinging out and their wheel hitting yours would have enough force though.

Could you have a teenager that may have gone off the road and just never admitted it.


The right rear is the most likely to hit curbs on tight turns, pulling out of driveways, etc. Does your wheel get banged around a lot?

Without car in hand I can’t tell you what the cause of the problem is but the odds of getting that many faulty wheel bearings in such a short period of time is beyond comprehension.
Seeing as how this is a Subaru dealer are they using genuine Subaru bearings and are they telling you that they’re replacing them repeatedly under a parts warranty?

It’s difficult to believe corporate Subaru would buy into this so many times without stopping the train and wanting to know what’s going on.

I have to think that someone is overlooking something during the repair or not performing it properly. Omitting a spacer, pounding a bearing in with a hammer instead of the service tools used to press them in, or whatever.

+1 for @ok4450 . Something stinks in the state of Denmark.

My wife drives the car to work 25 miles away highway driving; the subaru dealer was very meticulous about the installation of the third wheel bearing and looking for possibilities that would cause premature bearing failure-And yes they are replacing the bearings under the installed part warranty- the car was purchased originally at this dealer and always serviced there. Thanks for the input everyone, I will let you know what they come up with. Kids are all grown up and on their own, my wife is the primary driver of the Outback. Thanks, Gizamatic

I cannot see how this many bearings could be bad replacement parts.

I doubt that any dealership would have the specialty tools to check, but I think it may be the machining of something in the rear end unit, prior to the car being assembled at the factory.

If you are still under warranty and this one…replaced in Aug 2014…gives out. I’d try getting the Subaru Rep involved. I would then suggest that they either pull the entire rear end unit, and replace it or to send the rear end unit to a shop that specializes in rebuilding rear ends.
If some process in the machining at the factory was done in error, it will continue to wear out these wheel bearings forever, unless the fault is corrected…


The fourth one replaced in August is noisy, shaking and vibrating. I have an appointment this Friday Oct. 6th, where they get to look at things again. The car drives and sounds and acts normally when the new bearing is installed. The bearing itself is under warrant but the rest of the car being a 2010 is no longer under warranty. Thanks, Gizamatic

I would ask to have the knuckle/spindle replaced. I believe this is a independent rear suspension. I have seen the bore that the bearing presses into become distorted and cause repeat failures in short order.

Include the hub to the above suggestion

thank Steve, I will be sure to mention that to them. There is no irregular tire wear to indicate suspension or alignment problems, AutoCheck report shows no accidents confirming what the previous owner and dealership told me when I purchased the car. Could my wife have hit a pothole or cut a corner and caught the curb, definite possibility but you would think the problem would be more evident. I appreciate all the input and will let you know how I make out at the dealer. thanks, gizamatic

I’m still having a near impossible time of believing that Subaru of America (the corporate parent) would warranty a wheel bearing this many times. Once maybe; twice they’re gonna want to know what’s going on if the dealer is using Subaru OEM parts and filing claims against SOA.

Maybe you should contact the SOA regional office and ask how many claims they have on file for your car in regards to wheel bearing replacements.

I also might ask if you have received paper copies of this repeated repair. Each one should have a repair order number and warranty labor operation listed.

Interesting that RockAuto and AdvanceAuto show only rear hub and bearing assemblies for this car.

Well that changes things. I have never seen a repeat failure on the bearings designed as a unit. They are almost foolproof to replace compared to pressing the bearings in and out.

Hitting a curb or pothole should not damage a bearing/hub assembly without extensive damage to the wheel/tire combo.

In reading over the removal and installation instructions for the rear wheel bearing, some interesting precautions are noted. Firstly, if the bearing/hub cartridge does not slide off the half axle stub, the special SOA tool is to be used to push the stub out of the old inner bearing and pull the stub into the new bearings. I am wondering if your shop is using a substitue method for that special tool.

Secondly, the axle stub shaft is tightened to the bearing/hub with the axle nut. The instructions state to tighten the axle nut to 49 ft-lb; install the rear caliper; and hold the hub with the brake while the axle nut is tightened to 177 ft-lb. There is a clear warning not to place the weight of the car on the assembled bearing/hub wheel and tire in order to counter the reaction of torquing the nut to 177 ft-lb. The caution ends with “— or the wheel bearing will be damaged.”

Finally, you might have the entire half axle replaced under the possibility that something is out of tolerance with the axle stub or one of the CV joints. Maybe the dealer will allow the half axle to be changed under warrantee.

Hello researcher, that is great information you found! I know that the third time they replaced the wheel bearing they were very specific about the torque values and looked for problems with the axle. The car is a 2010 Outback and it is the rear passenger wheel bearing that is the culprit; the third bearing lasted about 5,000 miles. I am so glad I did not attempt to fix this myself or have my neighbor with the nice hoist fix it! Fourth trip to the dealer- if three times is a charm I wonder what the fourth time is.

You have been really patient with this Subaru dealership. You should be getting close to the definition of a “lemon law car”. You might try using another dealership’s service department. If that shop will not warrantee the wheel bearing, then get the parts from the first and have the second do the install. In the mean time research the 'lemon law" in your state (I assume USA). Consult with the dealership manager and/or SOA about the options they are willing to give you, i.e. trade for an equivalent car in stock, exchange for a new car of the same equipment level, etc. Remember the clock stops at the first attempt at repair. Keep all work orders and correspondence.

If SOA would authorize it, disassemble one of the failed bearings to see how it failed. Did a race spall out and which direction? Did the balls fail? Was there still grease in the bearing? If not, did one of the seals fail? Did water get in? Is there signs of rust? Then, take the parts to a industria bearing store and have a bearing engineer look at the damage and maybe do metal analysis to determine if the failure is manufacturer related; application related; or overload related. A bearing should be able to go more than 200 hours in service.