Originally Posted by VonMagnum
Typically, a bearing noise means something is creating friction. The louder it gets the more wear is happening and as it grinds down it will eventually seize. A new bearing should make virtually zero noise. A ticking sound indicates rubbing. The louder it gets the more wear is happening. At work, we check machine bearings with a ultrasound meter to locate the bad bearing quickly. When it's pegging around 100dB over a normal/new/typical bearing, it's time to change it to prevent a failure while the machine is running later in the day.
Of course, a noisy bearing may last a good long time and a quiet one can suddenly freeze if something wears really fast for some reason. It's not an exact science, but noise is a good indicator of friction and the whole point of a bearing is a smooth rotational motion. Lack of grease, dust/dirt contamination or excess wear can create more and more friction and therefore it's more and more likely to seize.
So my point was that a bearing that is making noise on Day 1 is probably not the best made bearing in the world. OTOH, I had a bearing squeak on my first car for over 6 years and the TOB never seized.
Thanks for such an informative reply -- makes sense.
I guess I'm hoping that the case here is closest to your last sentence, because based on various replies in this thread it sounds like there's not much Subaru dealers can do about the problem right now.