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Subaru Forester Brake Questions



  • kate5000kate5000 Posts: 1,264
    On my last service of Forester 2001, I had to replace rotors too -- they laster 150K miles. I've asked service manager, if I brought car in for service earlier - would it have saved the rotors? He said, no, break pads still had about 7% left on them so it was just the rotors wore out too much so many miles.
  • Can anyone give my some pointers on how to install new calipers, pads and rotors on my 2001 Forester S. Rear wheels.

    I've got the parts and a brake installation toolkit that I rented from my auto parts store - but any procedures that anyone could enlighten me on would be appreciated. I know I have to bleed the fluid a bit and I have never done that before.

    I'm going to save at least $400 by doing it myself.

    Thanks in advance!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Do a Google Search for "scoobymods brake", you'll be warm, keep looking there, threads of note. They have instructions for the Legacy's rear discs, and this should be similar. Edmunds rules don't allow me to link directly to the site.

    Forester is actually easier, becauser the rear strut suspension is not in your way, you have a lot more clearance to work with.

    Bleeding the fluid is the easy part. You'll find a rubber plug at the end of the brake line, it sticks out so it's easy to find.

    Remove that, use a plastic tube to plug into that, then put the other side in a jar with a little bit of brake fluid in it so that it doesn't suck air back in. I'm not sure what size but I used stuff that I had left over from my acquarium, which flexed enough for the job.

    Actually, the place that has Legacy brake install instructions also has brake bleeding procedures. The order is rather unusual, it's:

    1. Front right
    2. Rear left
    3. Front left
    4. Rear right

    I just did the front pads on my Forester, then bled the system, then bled my Miata, then the front pads on my dad's Outback, then bled those!

    Tip: get all your materials first. A quart (not pint, quart) of brake fluid for each car you do. Some anti-squeel compound, the stuff I got was red and gooey. And some high-temp brake grease for the sliders. The plastic tube/hose. A jar. A tool to push the brake piston back in, for me my C-clamp did not clear properly so I recommend the specialized tool. Torque wrench, 14mm and 17mm sockets, and a 10mm closed wrench for the brake lines.

    There may be more, but you get the idea, just be prepared. Get a helper. I got a hand pump to bleed the brakes and it did not work well, I kept getting air in the system. So I called my wife to pump the brake pedal the old fashioned way, while I bled them.

    DO NOT let the fluid level go low while you're bleeding it, else you have to start all over again, and I mean all 4 corners all over again.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    e-mail me if you want, I did get some pics.

  • erniesferniesf Posts: 3
    My car has 43,000 mostly city miles (San Francisco, and the car is a manual transmission). My mechanic just called to say that there are early signs of a rear brake drum leak. Isn't this early for such a problem? I'm the original owner and have been diligent about maintenance. (But I do not have an extended warranty.) I did a lot of research about cars before buying, and heard only good things about Subaru, but this is disappointing news to me. Am I being unrealistic in my performance expectations? Any guidance on this subject would be appreciated.
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    "My car has 43,000 mostly city miles (San Francisco), and the car is a manual transmission....Am I being unrealistic in my performance expectations?"


    Given the amount of steep hills in San Francisco, one of the most congested cities in the US, all stop-and-go driving, all the time, perhaps you are. :P

    I am thrown off by the mechanics statement, however. Either one has a leak, or doesn't. Any kind of a leak can lead to you, or someone else, being killed, because one cannot know when a "small" leak will expand, and leave you without break fluid. :sick:

    Given that most of San Francisco is nothing but steep hills, this isn't something I would agonize over very long!

    Anything mechanical has a predictable life within certain operational parameters. When parts are constantly pushed outside of those "normal" parameters, failure can occur sooner. Likewise your clutch assembly will fail sooner there than someone living in, say, Kansas, due to the extreme amount of shifting one does where you live versus Kansas, or another mostly flat locality. I am surprised he didn't say your pads needed replacing as well....

    It only took me six months of living in Piedmont, and commuting daily into the city, to realize my next car would be an automatic. ;)
  • erniesferniesf Posts: 3
    Thanks for the quick, thoughtful response. And I am going to have my mechanic do the drum work immediately. As for the brake pads, he's replacing the front ones as I write this--I just didn't bother to mention that in my first note. So, this will be a fairly costly visit, but you are right, this is a city that is tough on cars! Thanks!
  • erniesferniesf Posts: 3
    A quick follow-up...I'm glad you questioned my detail about the brake drum. I just talked to my mechanic and it's actually the brake cylinder that's showing the first signs of a leak (I'm no experts on brakes, as you can tell!). Anyway, I'm still going to have the work done immediately because you are right, you don't want to fool around when it comes to brakes when you are driving in a city like San Francisco.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I guess he means the high-temp grease around the two pistons that line up the caliper is leaking through the rubber seals. That should not be hard or expensive to fix.

    Leaking brake fluid means you have no brakes at all!

  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    "Leaking brake fluid means you have no brakes at all!"

    Well, not really...

    A small leak will gradually deplete the fluid, and depending upon how fast it leaks, wouldn't be noticeable at first, then the brakes would turn very mushy and the pedal would travel a great deal in stopping. At that point, you are very close to not having any breaking ability at all... ;)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I had a hydraulic leak in my Miata's clutch slave cylinder. The pedal basically went soft. I would not want that to happen to my brakes, yikes!

    But yeah, it didn't just "give" suddenly, it was gradual, but I would not want to lose any brake pressure.

  • amyashamyash Posts: 12
    Stopped by a local tire distributor to replace a rear tire on my 2002 Forester yesterday. Car's only got approx. 34k miles and neither the front nor the rear brakes have been replaced to date. Last service (oil change), the dealer said the rear brake pads were at about 40%.

    While the car was up on the lift, the tech and owner of the tire shop both stressed the urgent need for rear brakes & rotors, going so far as to say that if I didn't do it today, the calipers could fail, etc (I have not heard squeaking or grinding, and the brakes feel fine). Quoted cost was $220. The hard sell made me uncomfortable & I declined. My questions:

    don't front brakes ususally need to be replaced before rear brakes?
    assuming I really do need new brakes, should I have the dealer do it, or shop around (Midas, Meineke, etc.)
    I've got the Subaru Added Security Gold Plus Plan. I'm assuming that this will not cover brake pads & rotors, will it? If not, what should I expect to spend?

  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    Some cars, like the Camry, are notorious for low brake life. It all depends upon the driver. If I had a dollar for every driver who has told me they are very light on the breaks, but really wasn't, I would have $1000 before me now.

    Go to Meineke and Midas, and get a quote and evaluation. Two would be more than enough, added to what you already have. If the majority agrees, you are pretty safe in having the work done, and with brakes, safe is really better than sorry, eh? If you are a Triple A (AAA) member, they usually have a list of approved places for work, that won't rip you off, and have shown to have good work.

    34,000 miles is almost three years of the average drivers mileage (36,000), so IMO not an abnormal mileage for replacement. Many owners need to replace their brakes every two years, so that shows you have used restraint in your braking application. ;)
  • once_for_allonce_for_all Posts: 1,640
    my rear pads are wearing faster than the fronts.

    It took me by surprise. At 55k the rears have about 1/3rd left, fronts are about a half.

    Generally, yes, the front pad material goes faster. But look at the size of the fronts vs the rears. That's the difference.

  • joseph50joseph50 Posts: 235
    I left my 2001 S, 68K miles, in a local Goodyear shop for a simple oil change and tire rotation. I got a phone call that my back brakes rotors and pads were totally "burned blue" shot. I gave them the go-ahead for the new installation, but I wanted to see the old parts before I paid. I must admit, those parts looked way past use, and I felt I would drive with more confidence after OK-ing the change. I believe I paid a hundred bucks more than your quoted cost, oil change and rotation included.
    (Aside: I can't believe anyone is "lighter on the brakes" than I am.)
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    You should only consider yourself very fortunate to have gotten that many miles out of them. :)
  • speterson1speterson1 Posts: 228
    My Forester, like joseph50's, is also a 2001 with 68K miles on it (it's an L not an S though). In July we took a trip to PA to visit some friends and did some driving in the mountains that was hard on the brakes. Since I still have the original brake pads, upon returning home I took the Subie in to my favorite shop to get new brakes, assuming that the PA driving coupled with their age would have me ready for some new pads. The shop, which is excellent and has my complete trust, called me at work and told me they could of course replace them if I like, but the pads and rear drum were still at 50%, so I was probably fine without them. I couldn't believe it!
  • ozman62ozman62 Posts: 229
    I recently changed out the rear brake shoes (drum) on my '98 Forester L. They appeared to be at 40+ % wear remaining and my car has over 175,00 km (about 108K miles). To the best of my knowledge, they're the originals... My front pads also lasted over 100K miles, and the rotors were still fine. My car is a manual, and I beleve that that contributes to less brake wear. I couldn't be happier with the brake performance and longevity of my Forester (once I got used to the initial mushy feeling of the pedal). YMMV :)
  • I need new brakes on my "03 Forester and was thinking of doing this myself. There are many choices of brake pads and I was wondering if anyone had any advice. I understand that performance pads may not be great for everyday driving, so I don't know if kevlar or ceramic are going to be good for me. I live in NH with a fair amount of hills so I brake a lot.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Car & Driver had an article about pads and entire brake kits, and they got good results with Hawk pads.

    I just stuck with OE - quiet and durable. My front pads laster over 80k miles, the rear brake shoes are still original (90k plus)!

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