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Howdy folks.

I am a delivery driver and use my 2005 Outback for work. It has about 200,000 miles. I have been having problems with my front left (driver side) brake caliper and I need to replace the bracket (won't slide); however, I had been just replacing and chewing through brake pads in the mean time.

I started hearing a scraping noise so I once again replaced my front left pads; however, the noised didn't stop after I went into work.

It turns out that the problem was actually my rear-left pads (I didn't have time to look at them as I was rushing before work). As I was pulling out of the restaurant, I heard a metal object drop out and hit the ground, which turned out to be the remains of one of my rear-left brake pads. I was driving down the road and had to brake hard because of a dumb driver. Suddenly, a few minutes later I had no brake pressure.

I limped through my deliveries and back home by pushing all the way down on the brake and getting a little bit of pressure (along with an intense grinding sound). I know I should have just parked the car and immediately ceased operation in order to minimize damage; however, we were very busy and I had old deliveries in my car and in the heat of the moment I decided to just get it back home.

I got back and realized I was leaking brake fluid- heavily- from my rear-left caliper. I parked the car in the back of the restaurant and left it there for a couple days. Then I topped off the brake fluid in order to get it home (no grinding sound this time, I think the caliper stopped working).

Finally, I took everything off today and inspected the caliper. The piston won't budge. I realize I need to bleed my brakes; however, I was reading about how pushing the brakes all the way to the floor on a high mileage master cylinder can push gunk through it and damage the seal. I did this more than a few times during this ordeal in order to get the car to stop without any brake pressure.

I really don't want to damage anything more than I already have, and I was wondering what I should do in order to diagnose what needs fixed and the best way to go about fixing it.

Thanks a bunch!

-Ben
 

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1999 30th Anniversary Legacy Outback DOHC 2.5L 4EAT, 2008 Impreza WRX 2.5L 5MT, 2008 Impreza Wagon 2.5L 4EAT
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1,224 Posts
Probably need new brake calipers on the one that is seized and also the one that is leaking. Definitely will have to bleed the brakes completely if you replace the calipers. You may need to replace the rotors as well as pads all around.
 

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2001 VDC Wagon - White pearl - 302,000 km
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Calipers should always be replaced in pairs, if you can afford it.
You are correct about over-travelling the master cylinder, but the caveat is not always bad.
If the fluid in the reservoir was clean and clear, you should be ok to send the pedal to the floor.
If you are just changing the calipers, you don't have to push the master cylinder at all to bleed the brakes. The fluid should gravity bleed all the way, provided you don't put the cap on the reservoir while gravity does its thing.

You won't need to bleed any lines other than the one that leaked. You can't push air down a tube that is hydraulically locked full of brake fluid; it's scientifically impossible. Don't waste your time bleeding all the brakes, unless the fluid was black or you have a surplus of DOT 4 at your disposal.

Replace both rear calipers, both rotors and pads. Be sure to put some silicone grease under the stainless pad guides before you clip them onto the caliper bracket and remove the slider pins and put some more silicone grease on them as well, because the caliper remanufacturers don't put enough lubricant anywhere. Also put a dab of grease on the part of the pad that rides on the pad guides, but not too much, because you don't want it to find its way to the rotor surface. Don't forget some at the interfaces between the piston and the inboard pad, and the caliper "claws" and the outboard pad.

After it's bled, check your pedal pressure. If you're skeptical, take it for a drive and check your brake performance.
 
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