I recently changed one of the rear wheel bearings in my 2016 Outback. This is fairly typical, as the car just passed 50,000 miles, and this is a common problem with Subaru’s. I have changed many rear wheel bearings on Subaru’s. I can usually do the job in less than an hour.
The Subaru does not have a serviceable bearing, the whole hub needs to be replaced. The hub bolts on to the spindle with four bolts. The process of replacing the bearing use to involve removing the axle shaft, then removing the four bolts, and the hub simply comes off.
For some reason, Subaru redesigned the hub assembly in 2015. The new hub design retains the four mounting bolts, but the assembly is pressed in to the spindle with a flange that presses in to the hub. This flange is over an inch long.
I took the axle nut off, and easily removed the four hub mounting bolts. To my surprise, the hub would not come off the spindle. I used a big slide hammer, and even heated up the spindle assembly. After struggling for hours, I ended up removing the spindle and pressing the hub out on the press. Fortunately, I was able to remove the spindle without damaging the rubber boots on the links or the ABS wheel speed sensor. I have a 20 ton press, and it was all I could do to remove the hub assembly. The new hub assembly had to be pressed in to the spindle.
I noticed the rear brake pads were almost worn out while I was working on the wheel bearing. This was my first introduction to electric parking brakes, and how to reset the caliper to replace brake pads. That will be discussed in a fu-ture column.
I can not understand why Subaru changed the design of the bearing. The spindle was also redesigned. The spindle is mounted to the car with conventional ball joints, and the links have conven-tional tie rod ends. The rear spindle looks like it is mounted on the front, not the rear. When these cars get some years of use, the chances of the ball joints and tie rod end link assemblies coming off easily will dwindle signifi-cantly. A simple rear wheel bearing replacement will likely result in having to replace the links, ABS wheel speed sensor, backing plate, and the spindle in addition to the hub assembly. The job could easily take 2-3 hours and cost well over $500 in parts.
This is a classic case of newer cars not having serviceable parts, and an unbelievable amount of labor to replace wear items.
I’d rather work on my 20 year old Outback.