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Subaru Forester Brake Questions



  • 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)!

  • Wow Juice,

    I wonder what I"m doing wrong? At 27K the dealer told me that I would need new brakes by 30K front and rear and also that my original Geolandars were about shot.

    I always try to fix things myself because I like to understand how everything works, but this usually results in a minor catastrophe followed by an eventual (and sometimes expensive) happy ending. This usually involves plumbing...
    In this case I'll probably have another shop confirm that the pads are shot and then have someone do it.
    Any reason not to go with Goodyear, Meineke, etc.?
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    Modify your driving habits. That is the number one cause of premature wear. ;)
  • MIght also have something to do with all the hills here in NH. When I lived in FL it was easy to minimize hard braking but here I have to accelerate up a hill and brake on the way down.
    Is it better to downshift an automatic transmission on the downhill?
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    It is always better to use the engine brake, by shifting down one gear on descent, than to only use the brakes. :)

    You make a good point. I do lots of hill and mountain driving, and people tend to brake, going around right turns than they need to, simply because it is a hill, and they are going down. It is a human fear, I believe, that causes this. Some outgrow it. Most don't it seems. ;)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Don't change your habits at all. Brake pads are dirt cheap. If anything learn to install them. You can find pads for $17 a pair.

    Transmissions cost a fortune. Clutches are also expensive. So I'd stick with using $17 brake pads as opposed to using $400 clutches or multi-thousand dollar trans.

    I'm with you on this!

  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    He said he had an automatic.

    You must be driving junkers, to give advice so contrary to what professional drivers recommend doing...... :P
  • Thanks for the advice.
    I would like to change the pads myself. I'm generally pretty good at things like that although I've never done brakes before.
    Can anyone recommend a particular repair manual for my Forester or should I just follow the generic instructions on changing brake pads on any car?
    Also, any particular merchant recommended for buying the pads? I guess I'd go with the Hawks based on Juice's post unless anyone has other suggestions.
    Again, thanks a lot. I really appreciate getting help from you guys.
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    I believe most Subaru parts departments sell their own. Also, any auto parts store will carry the major books, with chapters on every make and model.
  • I took off one of the front calipers today to look at my brake pads that were supposedly almost worn out. They look practically brand new at 28,000 miles.
    I think I'll change my brake fluid since it's about three years old, but I learned a lesson about trusting the particular Subaru dealership I go to.
  • I'm not so sure that the "mushy brake" syndrome is built into the Subaru. My 1999 Forester indeed had somewhat mushy brakes that I disliked. My 06 LLBean has brakes that are very firm but not touchy. A great improvement.
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    "I took off one of the front calipers today to look at my brake pads that were supposedly almost worn out. They look practically brand new at 28,000 miles.
    I think I'll change my brake fluid since it's about three years old, but I learned a lesson about trusting the particular Subaru dealership I go to."

    So long as you are an expert mechanic, with the same training at inspecting brakes as the technician who told you they were needed, no problem.

    Otherwise I wonder if you are willing to bet your life, or your loved ones on it?

    Brakes are cheap. Snap out of it! ;)
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    You've done most of the expensive/laborous part of changing the pads if you pulled the calipers. At this point you might as well spend the $50 or less for pads and replace them. I've replaced 100s and 100s of sets of Subaru brakes, and it never pays NOT to replace them. For my new biz, we will actually be focusing almost exclusively on Subaru brakes.

  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    Exactly right, Mike!

    Given the age of his car, in spite of the low miles, once I had the wheels off, I'd be damned if I wouldn't just replace them.

    My Dad used to say, 30% brakes left just meant to him that in an emergency, he had just lowered his chances by that much.

    In the grand scheme of things, brakes, batteries and tires are fairly cheap, per mile driven....why screw around on the cheap with your family or friends at stake? ;)
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Battery is probably the cheapest and easiest to replace. On my beater 240sx I went and bought a battery when I wasn't sure if my problem was the battery or the alternator. Alternator was like 150 + a few hrs labor, battery was $60 and about 10 minutes to swap out. Turned out it was the alternator in the end but the battery was a good shot and something it could use anyway.

    At our shop we have a box of 30-50% meat left brake pads that we give away for free to any of the NASIOC or other customers who come to our shop to hang out, if they want em, since they are of no use to us.

    Similarly, rotors run about $100/pair for the front retail for an Impreza or Legacy, we never suggest cutting rotors since it's $100 to replace em with brand new beefy ones.

    And lastly tires can be had for about $75 for Sumitommo HTR+ in 16 or 17" sizes for the subies, so for under $100/corner you can have brand new all season tires, how dumb would one feel if you slid into someone and did 1000s of dollars in damage due to bad tires or brakes?

  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    The obvious answer is, "Don't sweat the small stuff. It's all small stuff!"

    To be totally honest, I have been there, done that, with tires and brakes. I am sometimes dumb, but you don't have to hit me over the head with a hammer twice! :P
  • I don't preted to be an automotove repair expert. I appreciate the advice to go ahead and replace the brake pads. I'll call Tire Rack and just ask them what they recommend and order them.
    I appreciate the feedback which I find reasuuring as I have been RIPPED off by repair shops in the past.
    Would stil appreciate any suggestions on brake pads and tires if any one cares to...
    I use snow tires in the winter so I need new tires for the rest of the year.
    For brake pads, I drive a lot of hills and am fairly aggressive I guess. I head the "green things" are a good choice.
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    Well, another piece falls into place...... :P

    I lived for many years in the mountains....7,000 feet above Southern California, and I can tell you, no matter how one drives, it is murder on brakes. It is one of the prices you pay for doing so.....
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Are the way to go. We use them across the board.

    HP+ for Track/Auto-x/StreetUse -high dust
    HPs for Street/auto-x/aggressive driving -low dust

    Shoot me an e-mail on the pads as I may have some new HPs pads sitting around.

    For tires, if you are looking for summer tires the Yokohama ES100s are great summer-only tires. I also like the Sumitommo HTR+ all-seasons as well.

  • I recently had all four pads replaced on my 2005 XT and have noticed brake chattering when applying the brake. I have narrowed it down to when I apply the brakes driving over bumps in the road. I can always replicate the problem when I apply the brakes driving over speed bumps. The first time it happened was when it was raining and I don't remember if I went over a bump at that time. I plan to take the car back to the shop where the work was performed, however, I would like to have some knowledge why this is happening. Any help is appreciated.
  • overtorqued lug nuts. They should be at 65 ft lbs.

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