Subaru Wheel Bearing How-To / FAQ

This is an updated version of the one and only original writeup I did back in 2006 on rs.pmgz.net, that has been floating around in PDF form. Enjoy! ~Dmitriy

This How-To/FAQ includes the steps need to replace a rear wheel bearing, including making your own wheel bearing puller tool. I also go through some of the common trouble spots, which can be helpful if you’re not an experienced mechanic.

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The information provided on these pages is provided as-is, accuracy is no
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Resources
NASIOC:: Guru’s guide to wheel bearing replacement
End Wrench – Subaru Wheel Bearing Replacement (Attached)
Subaru Repair Manual – Section 5 – Chassis (these can be downloaded all over the internet)

HOW-TO

The steps to perform the procedure are outlined in detail in the End-Wrench document here. I’m not going to repeat them here, please simply read the document. Keep reading below for a FAQ on the tricky bits.

This How-To/FAQ is based on my experience in replacing the rear wheel bearing on my 2000 2.5RS. I believe it is one of the more difficult setups to work with, because of the e-brake and lateral link bolt. Overall, this should be very similar to whatever car you have.

There are different ways of doing this, many people prefer to simply take the whole knuckle to a shop, have everything pressed out and new stuff pressed in. The method covered here does not require you to remove the knuckle from the car.

FAQ

The FAQ covers the tough bits of the process in detail, I tried to have it follow along the steps as much as possible.

How much does this cost to do at shop?
If your car is relatively new (1-3 years) or you are lucky enough to live where cars don’t rust, probably $250 or so at the dealership. If your car is like mine or older… expect over $400.

How much will this cost?
The cost in parts is a little over $100. Tools might cost you another $50.

How long will this take?
4-10 hours, start to finish. Entirely depending on your skill level, tools, and rustiness of the car.

What tools do I need?

  • Basic set of metric sockets/wrenches, ranging from 10mm-19mm.
  • Hammer and rubber/plastic mallet.
  • Breaker bar.
  • 32mm socket for the axle nut.
  • Seal driver kit. The cheap one from HF works, and makes things so much easier.
  • Seal puller. Again, the cheap HF one works about 1000x better than a screwdriver.
  • Decent size slide hammer. This is best rented from an auto parts store since nice ones can be pretty expensive.
  • Good needle nose pliers.
  • Variety of screwdrivers.
  • PB Blaster, Liquid Wrench, or your favorite bolt loosening helper.
  • Tons of brake cleaner. Just buy 2-3 cans, you can never have too much.
  • Anti-Sieze.
  • Nice to haves – brake spring tool.

What parts do I need?
Here is a list of parts for my 2000 Impreza 2.5RS, the part #s might be different for your car, always double check them with the place you’re ordering from.
Parts you will need for sure:
28016AA030 – Wheel bearing
28015AA100 – Inner seal #1
28015AA110 – Inner seal #2
28015AA090 – Outer seal
28035AA040 – Snap ring
28044AA000 – Axle nut

Parts you will need if your lateral link bolt is seized:
20540AA000 – Lateral link bolt
20550AA010 – Lateral link nut (recommended to replace anyway)
20251AA000 – Lateral link bushing (you need 2 of these)
900335056 – Washer (you need 2 of these)

Should I use OEM parts? Where can I get them?
You can’t go wrong with OEM Subaru parts. That being said, there are only a few companies in the world that manufacture bearings, and Subaru is not one of them, so they simply resell Koyo and the like. In our experience you can often find identical Japanese made bearings from non-Subaru sources for significantly cheaper.

You can get the parts from the dealer, or from various places online. I’ve had good experience with both 1stsubaruparts.com and subarugenuineparts.com.

My lateral link bolt looks rusted as hell, what can I do to make it easier to remove?
Spray it down with PB Blaster every day for week before trying to get it off.

How do I remove the axle nut?
Unstake it using a flat head screwdriver (hammer it inside, then pry a bit, then hammer some more…etc). Don’t lift the car yet! If you already have, have a buddy hold the brakes, and use a breaker bar to break it loose. If you have an impact wrench, you’re probably already done with this.

The damn caliper keeps getting in my way!
Tie up to the spring, don’t have it dangling by the brake line. When reassembling everything, remove, and clean up the little metal clips. Put some brake caliper grease on all of the pad-to-caliper and pad-to-caliper-bracket interfaces. Obviously, do not put grease on the rotor or brake pad surface and use brake cleaner to clean up any accidents.

Do I have to take apart the e-brake?
The Subaru bearing removal tool has much thinner walls than our home made one, we have to make sure it is not resting against bolts, or e-brake parts since the removal requires A LOT of pressure. That said, you don’t actually have to take it apart all the way. Basically, if you look at the top of the setup, there is a metal plate with a spring on one side between the top parts of the shoes – that thing will get in the way, so it needs to go. Just take off the return springs (top ones), the little triangle, spread the shoes, and remove the plate. That’s all you have to do.

How do I re-assemble the e-brake?
Hopefully you didn’t have to take it all the way apart. But if you have, there is a really good picture of the setup in section 5 of the repair manual.

The lateral link nut won’t come lose!
Spray it with lots of PB Blaster and use a breaker bar, that will usually do it. If not, heat it with a torch (wait for the PB Blaster to evaporate or you’ll burn down your house), then use the breaker bar. If it’s just permanently rusted on there, rounded, or just generally not coming off – cut it off.

The lateral link bolt is not coming out!
Apply lots of PB Blaster, whack it with a hammer, sledge hammer, and give it all kinds of abuse. It won’t come out right away, sometimes it takes a good hour of almost non-stop burn/hit/burn/hit/pry/…etc. It will eventually come out, if it doesn’t – cut it. Anti-size everything when putting it back together.

 My lateral link bushings are damaged, how do I get them out and put new ones back in?
There are special tools you can buy for this, but here is how I did it and it worked well. Take a large (36mm or so) socket, a long bolt, a nut, and a couple washers. Put the socket on one side of the bushing housing, with the socket opening facing the bushing, then put the long bolt though the bushing and then through the socket with washers on both sides, and finally put the nut on the end of the bolt. Now when you tighten the nut, the bushing will get pulled into the socket. Reinstallation is done using the same technique.

How do I get the hub out?
The easiest way to get the hub out is using a slide hammer. You can rent one at Autozone, or your favorite auto parts store. In case yours comes without the handy lug adapter, like mine did, don’t waste your time with the jaw puller (worthless), simply feed the slide hammer through the hub, and use a nut and a washer to smack it out of there. It comes out relatively easy.

Part of the bearing is still on the hub, how do I get it off?
Any automotive machine shop can do it, simply requires a press. Call around your local parts stores, they should be able to either do it, or point you to someone who can. Should cost you $10-$15.

How do I remove the seals?
Pry them out with a screwdriver, sometimes it takes a surprisingly large amount of effort. A $5 Harbor Freight pry tool (referenced above) makes this a lot easier. Don’t expect to reuse the seals either way.

How do I make my own bearing removal tool?
Credit for invention and images goes to Bill Figeley.

You will need the following:

  • A couple feet of 3 inch diameter schedule 40 PVC pipe.
  • 5/8″ diameter threaded rod about 2 feet long.
  • Two coupling nuts that fit the above rod
  • 16 washers with the inside diameter close to that of the rod, and the outside
  • diameter the size of the inner bearing race
  • Some very strong wood (I recommend some good pressure treated lumber, not a 2×4).

Make the tool using the pictures below as a guide. The inner section of PVC is 4 inches long, the outer is 6 inches. You will need to cut about 1 and 1/2 inches out of the inner pipe to get it to fit into the outer.

All of the tools:

View inside the tube.

If your car has ABS, you will have to notch the pipe to go around the sensor. A drill, hole saw, or jig saw works wonders here.

“Big wood”

How do I use the toolkit to remove the bearing?

Put the PVC pipes over the bearing housing, stick the threaded rod through the bearing and put some washers on the other end along with the coupling nut. Use something VERY sturdy like a big block of wood against the other end of the pipe, then put some washers on, and the other coupling nut, then crank it to pull the bearing out of the housing.

A couple things to note here. First, make sure that your washers in the back are resting against the bearing race and not the bearing housing/knuckle. Second, put some grease on the washers and threaded rod under them, to help keep the threaded rod in good shape.

Tools set up for removal:

Should I repack the new bearing with grease before I put it in?

All of the official Subaru literature I’ve seen states that the bearings are shipped ready for installation. However, I’ve had much better results greasing them myself. You will want to wear gloves for this.
The procedure is simple, take out the little plastic retainer in the middle of the bearing, and then take the whole thing apart. Clean out all of the old grease (brake cleaner works well, wear gloves), let everything dry, and then re-pack it with some nice synthetic grease. I prefer Redline or Valvoline for no particular reason.

How do I put the new bearing in?

Using the tool we made. Except now put something to hold against in the back of the bearing housing and push it in with the washers and the coupling nut from the front. Due to limited space I used a small block of aluminum instead of wood for this. Push the bearing in until it gets past the cavity where the snap ring goes, it should get really tight right after it does.

Bills setup:

How do I put the seals back in?
Make sure you remember the correct orientation of these. When in doubt, the part with the little spring inside usually faces towards the bearing. Install them slowly and carefully with a rubber mallet and a seal driver (optional). Don’t use a screwdriver or any sharp metal object as you will damage the seals. The seals should go in very easily if you get them lined up straight, a seal driver tool makes that much MUCH easier.

How do I put the hub back in?
Make sure you have the ABS wheel installed before you begin.
Using the tool we made. Put the rod through the hub and bearing, washers and coupling nuts on both sides. Crank the coupling nuts and the hub will get pulled into the bearing. DO NOT use the same setup as you used to install the bearing (i.e. with the block against the housing) or you will damage the new bearing.

That’s it!