Wheel bearings are an essential component of any vehicle’s smooth operation and handling, including the Subaru Outback. They are responsible for ensuring that your car’s wheels rotate smoothly and without friction. Given their critical role in your vehicle’s performance and safety, it’s crucial to know when to change them and how to identify signs of wear and tear.
In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about Subaru Outback wheel bearings, including why they are essential, how to tell if they need replacing, and the benefits of replacing them before they fail.
What Are Wheel Bearings, and Why Are They Important?
Wheel bearings are small metal balls that sit inside a ring and lubricated by grease inside the inner and outer hub. They allow the wheel hub and wheel to rotate freely without friction. Essentially, they provide a barrier between the axle and the wheel. Thus, wheel bearings play a crucial role in your vehicle’s overall handling, performance, and safety.
How Often Should You Replace Your Subaru Outback Wheel Bearings?
The lifespan of wheel bearings varies depending on several factors, including driving conditions, mileage, and exposure to the elements. Some bearings can last up to 150,000 miles, while others may need replacing as soon as 75,000 miles.
However, manufacturer specifications can help shed some light on when to replace your wheel bearings. According to Subaru’s recommended maintenance schedule, you should have your wheel bearings checked at least once per year. The replacement timing depends on the findings of your inspection. As a general rule, wheel bearings should be replaced every 100,000 miles.
Other signs that you may need to replace your wheel bearings may include grinding or growling noises, vibrations from the wheels, or uneven tire wear.
Symptoms of a Bad Wheel Bearing in Your Subaru Outback
While it is essential to inspect your car regularly, some warning signs indicate wheel bearing failure. Common symptoms of a bad wheel bearing include:
- A grinding or growling noise from the wheel while driving or turning.
- Steering wheel vibrations or shimmies when driving at high speeds.
- Uneven tire wear or the presence of scalloped, cupped, or flat spots on the tires.
- Reduced braking performance or a pull to one side while braking.
- Increased steering effort or looseness in the wheel.
- A noticeable difference in the Subaru Outback’s handling or performance.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to have your vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible.
Why Replace Your Subaru Outback’s Wheel Bearings Sooner Rather Than Later?
It’s essential to replace your wheel bearings as soon as you identify any problems. Failing to do so can put your safety at risk as well as result in more costly repairs down the line. Firstly, bad wheel bearings can cause serious damage to other components, such as your brakes or suspension, or even cause a wheel to seize up or fall off altogether.
Secondly, worn or damaged bearings can also harm the production of your AWD system. One symptom of bad bearings is vibrations and loud noise that may also harm other components, including the transmission and engine mounts. This can ultimately result in costly repairs or even total system failures.
Finally, driving with damaged bearings can cause excessive tire wear, leading to the need for early replacement and higher operating costs.
How to Replace Your Subaru Outback Wheel Bearings
Replacing your wheel bearings can seem like an overwhelming task, but it is feasible with the right tools, skills, and safety precautions in place. In general, wheel bearing replacement involves the following steps:
- Loosen the lug nuts on the affected wheel before jacking up your Subaru Outback with a hydraulic jack, secure the vehicle with a jack stand.
- Remove the wheel and brake caliper, as well as the brake disc and hub assembly.
- Knock out the old bearing carefully from the back of the hub flange using a hammer and punch. By supporting the new bearing in place, place the hub assembly through the new bearing.
- Hold the hub in place and push in the new seal using a seal driver tool.
- Reinstall the hub assembly and caliper, disc, and wheel.
It’s crucial to follow manufacturer guidelines for the torque settings when reinstalling wheel bearings.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: How long do Subaru Outback wheel bearings last?
A: The lifespan of Subaru Outback wheel bearings depends on several factors, including driving conditions, mileage, and exposure to the elements. Some bearings can last up to 150,000 miles, while others may need replacing as soon as 75,000 miles. However, as a general rule, wheel bearings should be replaced every 100,000 miles.
Q: Are wheel bearings hard to replace on a Subaru Outback?
A: Replacing wheel bearings can seem daunting, but it is feasible with the right tools, skills, and safety precautions in place. Consult with a qualified mechanic if you are not comfortable doing this yourself.
As a critical component of your Subaru Outback’s safe and smooth operation, wheel bearings play an essential role in your vehicle’s performance. Regular inspections and timely replacements can help you avoid costly repairs, early tire wear and, most importantly, keep you safe. By following the guidelines outlined in this guide, you can maintain optimal performance and extend the lifespan of your Subaru Outback’s wheel bearings.