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Subaru Outback/Legacy Brakes



  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Frozen line would be my diagnosis. 14 months is a short time but it could have absorbed moisture and frozen. By standing on the pedal you broke up the frozen section. I'd have the brakes flushed.

    Also I hate to break it to you but my guess is that when you had then "flushed" 14 months ago, the place that did it only bled them and didn't flush em. 95% of the places don't flush, they bleed which doesn't help much.

  • fibber2fibber2 Mid Hudson Valley, NYPosts: 3,732
    Sounds scary.... IIRC, there was a service advisory or maybe limited recall for something like this back in the mid/late '90's. I think it was related to a bad batch of valves in the vacuum booster freezing up and not channeling pressure properly to aid the pedal action. Leg pressure then goes up 3-4x in order to get the same stopping power. Being close to the engine, it warms up quickly and releases.

    You are not the first one to report a situation like this. It appeared on this board some time past. And someone who used to work in my building told me this happened to him one cold morning when he drove his son's '00 or '01 OBW. If I can figure out who it was, I'll try and contact him for details.

  • We've had two cold mornings in Wash DC, with the temperature about 9 F when I try to leave for work.

    On both days, my brake pedal wouldn't respond for the first few minutes of operation. I would stand on it, and it wouldn't budge. The sensation was different from a loss of power steering - when that happens, standing on the pedal eventually engages the brake. On both occasions, the problem cleared about 1 minute after I noticed it.

    I've had the brake fluid replaced as per Subaru maintenance schedule, and the fluid that is in the car now is 14 months old.

    If there were water in the brake line that froze, it seems like that this problem wouldn't clear in 1 minute.

    The dealer wasn't particularly helpful. "Bring it in and we'll look at it, anything might be wrong". 10F mornings are a rarity in Wash DC, so I doubt an average quality inspection would reveal much.

    Any ideas?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My Forester was affected by that recall, so they swapped out my brake master cylinder.

    Thing is, it was only an issue at something like 55 degrees F below the freezing mark. I did it anyway, though.

  • I was told that due to the configuration of the brake system on the Subarus, that turning the rotors could become a serious safety problem as it would change the configuration. I would check the owners manual or call a certified Subaru Tech. I changed mine myself and had no problems, only with the price of the new rotors.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Whoever told you that was not well informed. Subaru dealers turn rotors all the time. On of my friends who works at SoA was even telling me the story about how they trained her on how to use an on-car lathe.

    So you can absolutely have Subaru rotors turned, in fact any Subaru dealer will gladly do the job for you.

  • Just be aware that not all Subaru dealers use the on the wheel lathe. I know mine does not.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Turning rotors removes material. By removing material you remove heat-sink ability of the rotors and therfore they will likely warp quicker after having them turned. Generally I never suggest turning rotors as it's a waste of time and money, you are better off buying a set of Mountain Rotors and putting them on as a complete replacement rather than turning the ones on the car.

  • truckinpctruckinpc Posts: 1
    I have a 2001 Outback Wagon, LL Bean edition. It currently has 119,000 miles and just this past weekend the ABS light comes on and does not go off when driving. According to the Owners manual we still have conventional brakes but have not been in a situation to prove it. Any suggestions on how to check or fix this ABS light?
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Could be several issues causing the ABS light to go on. Most common on that era of Subarus is a bad sensor or more likely a bad tone-ring on one of your hubs. Depending on how badly you think you need ABS will determine how much you want to spend to fix it. It's usually fairly expensive to track down and fix such problems on 100k+ car it may not be worth it.

  • meg4meg4 Posts: 5
    My 2005 Outback has 13k miles. Ever since I bought the car, the brakes make a clunking sound when applied...not all the time, but it's a concern. Three times the dealer said they could not duplicate the noise but last visit (6/25/07) the Svc Mgr said he heard it and wrote "tech confirmed a click in front when backing up and braking and foward and braking caused by PAD SHIFTING...not a safety issue.

    This is my 8th car and I NEVER heard of such a thing. HELP!
  • Congratulations, your brakes are now far better than the day you purchased your car. Subaru's without ABS are much safer that Subaru's with ABS. I disconnected my 1995 legacy ABS within a week of purchasing it. Several slow speed near death experiences coasting into intersections on Icy roads convinced me that ABS brakes are a death sentence. You won't notice the difference as much on dry pavement but on a slippery road, ABS virtually eliminates the deceleration that you expect from your brakes. Pull the emergency brake and you stop instantly. ABS brakes increase stopping distances on all surfaces. Its a fact.

    With the ABS relay removed, I enjoyed 12 years of braking perfection. Don't be concerned about the yellow light on your dash. Just pull out the ABS relay to complete the task that nature has started for you. For more info on ABS brakes, feel free to read the following post.
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    I'm going to have to disagree with you. While ABS is certain very limited situations may increase stopping distance, the fact that you can steer while braking is very very advantageous. Of course a 1995 ABS system is not the benchmark of a 2008 brake system. But even in my 1994 Legacy Racecar, we continue to keep the ABS engaged as it gives us a racing advantage!

    If you are following too closely and/or have poor tires, yeah ABS will be a detriment, but if you have distance to steer you'll be happy you had ABS because you can steer while full force braking.

    Motorsports and Modifications Host
  • I own a 99 Subaru Outback with 111,000 miles on it. I bought it used 5 years ago with 60,000 miles on it. It's automatic. It's been a gem til last fall, when I started to notice that, when braking while descending a steep hill (I live in an area with a lot of mountain passes, and sometimes the freeway grades are 5-7%), the brakes would grab, and the car would downshift to a lower gear, and then stay 'stuck' in this lower gear for a while (minute or two?), even if I took my foot off the brake and began to accelerate. This, or course, caused the RPM's to rev up too. Someone suggested a transmission problem, so I took it to a transmission place who said my trans was filthy and they flushed it. Thereafter, the problem seemed to subside (though I was never convinced that the two were related... but what do I know about cars!!?!) Alas, 10 months later, and the problem is back again. My mechanic is baffled. Any ideas?
  • pilot1226pilot1226 Posts: 165
    I'd be curious as to whether or not your local tech filled the transmission fluid with the one Subaru says in the owner's manual rather than a generic one.
  • akgakg Posts: 85
    I have just noticed that when I put on the brakes going fast, particularly going fast downhill (50+mph or so), like when I need to brake getting off of the freeway or even on the freeway, my car shimmies...sometimes pretty bad. I just had my tires rotated, but I think I may have noticed it before that. I live very rurally, so before I haul the Subie (an automatic, by the way) the 70 miles to the dealership, I thought I'd ask one of you. Thanks!
  • pilot1226pilot1226 Posts: 165
    To me, this sounds like brake jutter.

    1. When did you last replace your brake pads? Did you replace the rotors, or refinish (cut/machine/etc) them?

    Rotors will warp if they get too hot which leads to an uneven braking surface - this is the jutter that you feel only when you step on the brakes. If you've machined your rotors - which I don't recommend - you're taking the rotor and making it thinner, which is not able to withstand as much heat. You'll also not get the same life span out of a machined rotor compared to the new ones.

    On my Honda, I got brakes at Meineke a few years ago and was asked if I wanted new rotors (40/axle) or to have them machined (30/axle). I recommend new, always.
  • akgakg Posts: 85
    Thank you so much for helping me with this! It was the rotors in the front and I had them dealt with. Thank you again!
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Rotors will warp if they get too hot which leads to an uneven braking surface - this is the jutter that you feel only when you step on the brakes. If you've machined your rotors - which I don't recommend - you're taking the rotor and making it thinner, which is not able to withstand as much heat. You'll also not get the same life span out of a machined rotor compared to the new ones.

    Very rarely do rotors warp on cars these days. They usually get pad material deposits in them and this causes a feeling of being warped. To clear them re-bed your brakes (several 60mph to 5mph runs and then let cool) and this should clear the pad material from the microcracks in the rotors.

    I agree never to have rotors machined, it's always better to replace the rotors.

  • eberglundeberglund Posts: 5
    I was recently given a 2000 Subaru Outback wagon by my father. I've had older subi's (80 and 92) and have had wonderful luck with them, however this one is having some issues. This car only has 65K miles on it and my dad has replaced the front brakes 2 times! He tried to figure out what the problem was since it was not usual to replace them at such low miles, but never determined the cause. The last time he replaced the brakes was about 5K miles ago and he used the most expensive ceramic brake pads he could buy, and now i don't recall if he turned the rotors or replaced them. What is happening now is a grinding sound (similar to when your brakes need to be replaced) every time I use the brakes. It seems i also hear some noise even when I'm not using the brakes. I've searched the internet and cannot seem to find anyone else with this problem. If anyone knows what could be causing this problem, please help!
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