Parking brake - does it just suck normally? - Subaru Outback - Subaru Outback Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 11:11 AM Thread Starter
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Parking brake - does it just suck normally?

Hey guys,

So i'm going to retackle this issue with my parking brake again as its pissing me off big time. It holds somewhat OK (have to pull really hard) when the car is facing uphill, but facing downhill it is really bad.

I'm not sure what to do here as i've already refurbished the entire system, new parking brake cables, new parking brake hardware + shoes, AND new rotors.

So my question is this:

Even when it is supposedly working properly does our generation of outback just have a shitty parking brake? I live in a really hilly city (Vancouver), and it really needs to work on steep hills...


97 Outback 5MT
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 12:19 PM
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Can't really speak for your particular model, but I have noticed that I feel like the PB is barely adequate when adjusted "by the shop manual" on my '05. As I also have a 5MT, having a fully functional PB is not a luxury.
That said, I did not follow the instructions to "bed" the PB shoes to my new rear rotors, so I will attempt that, and also will probably adjust 1-2 clicks sooner engagement than the shop manual specifies.
I'd gladly sacrifice the potential of slightly diminished PB shoe life vs. the potential cost of paying out an insurance deductible cause my brake failed to hold my car!

In general, though, the way most of these PB systems are designed, they seem to tend to hold better when parked uphill.


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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-05-2019, 12:27 PM
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is it a rear disc with the P-brake inside the rotor? what car?

make sure the star adjusters are tight. If they are, you might try to tighten the adjuster under the console - it is intended to take up cable stretch I think. The stars are for shoe wear.

NOTE; BOTH star adjusters tighten when moved UP (seems weird I know, I guess one is reversed on one side of the car???))

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-06-2019, 02:42 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by 1 Lucky Texan View Post
is it a rear disc with the P-brake inside the rotor? what car?

make sure the star adjusters are tight. If they are, you might try to tighten the adjuster under the console - it is intended to take up cable stretch I think. The stars are for shoe wear.

NOTE; BOTH star adjusters tighten when moved UP (seems weird I know, I guess one is reversed on one side of the car???))
Yes, I have both set appropriately (in fact I have star adjusters 1 turn from rubbing, the manual states waaay more clicks).

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-06-2019, 03:35 AM
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So, the P Brake is gonna react differently parking up/down hill. When parking up hill there will be a litttle bit of ... lets call it play, in the PB. They have to take up some slack in the shoes. Because, in theory, they are working backwards against the mechanism. But, once the slack is taken up, they should hold.

I would inspect the adjusters, and MAKE SURE that they are assembled correctly. It's easy to make a mistake with them. I've actually caught myself installing them backwards.

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-06-2019, 09:19 AM
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I'm guessing the new shoes aren't bedded in. I've never done that with a parking brake and don't know the procedure. But I have serviced drum brakes for most of my life and know the need for service brakes.

My Gen 1 OBW with MT has an excellent parking brake. I live and work in a mountain community in the Colorado foothills. I park on steep slopes all the time. I'm in the habit of setting the PB in neutral, letting off the service brake slowly to make sure the PB holds, then putting the car in first gear and turning the wheels appropriately. Sometimes I chock a wheel with a nearby rock, if available. I have not noticed a difference in up or down hill--it always holds.

The car has been this way since I bought it six years ago. I have never had to service or adjust the rear brakes. I remove rotors and clean and check them at every tire rotation.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-06-2019, 09:36 AM
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If it holds when the brake is pulled all the way up, tighten the cable adjustment more even if it exceeds the manual spec. You replaced all the cables, but the anchor points may be flexing due to age or corrosion.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-06-2019, 12:43 PM Thread Starter
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Good to know they are supposed to work by default. Or work well - I did follow the break in procedures for the pad, but I find it unlikely for it to make THAT big of a difference even if I didn't do them at all?

It does not hold at all with the car facing down hill probably, more than a slight grade (i'll measure the grade tonight with my iphone). Uphill does slightly better but still not great.

After I have adjusted the brakes (via star adjuster, then cables) to achieve 7 clicks @ 45 lbs. I am able to pull it with more force a heck of a lot higher (5-6 clicks). Does not feel solid, almost as if something is flexing. Occasionally when it gets tight i'll feel a clunk through the lever when pulling further.

I suspect something must be up.

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