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2011 2.5i Limited, CVT, Moonroof, Steel Silver
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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 2011 Outback with just over 21,500 miles on the clock.
Last weekend I went on a trip west on I-70 from Denver. Coming down The westbound side of Eisenhower Tunnel, east and westbound sides of Vail Pass, and Floyd Hill into Denver, I experienced a what I consider a severe wheel shake when braking.

I have been driving this route in many different cars over the last 35+ years (since Glenwood Canyon was US 6 and two lanes boys and girls) and this is the first time I have seen this happen.

I'm not 100% sure this is tied to the other shake issues our Outbacks exhibit. When driving on a flat surface at 60-70 MPH sometimes I get a very slight shake, and other times I do not - I attribute this to road surface, but may be wrong.

I have a dealer appointment next week - any thoughts would be appreciated.
 

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brake and shake, possible reason

I had a similar experience with my old 2000 Outback. It was a warped front brake rotor. Not noticeable on the flats, but severe when trying to slow down coming down a steep grade on I5 in northern California. Rotor replaced and no more problem. Usual cause is excessive heat from too aggressive braking (like having to slow quickly for a slow car in front of you) or continuous braking coming down hills. Have your dealer put a dial indicator on each rotor and check the run out. Hope this helps you narrow down the problem.
 

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2019 Subaru Outback Limited 3.6R; 2016 VW Jetta SEL 1.8T; 2002 VW Passat GLX V6 4Motion
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I have a 2011 Outback with just over 21,500 miles on the clock.
Last weekend I went on a trip west on I-70 from Denver. Coming down The westbound side of Eisenhower Tunnel, east and westbound sides of Vail Pass, and Floyd Hill into Denver, I experienced a what I consider a severe wheel shake when braking.

I have been driving this route in many different cars over the last 35+ years (since Glenwood Canyon was US 6 and two lanes boys and girls) and this is the first time I have seen this happen.

I'm not 100% sure this is tied to the other shake issues our Outbacks exhibit. When driving on a flat surface at 60-70 MPH sometimes I get a very slight shake, and other times I do not - I attribute this to road surface, but may be wrong.

I have a dealer appointment next week - any thoughts would be appreciated.
Definitely front rotors. Brakes will likely need to be replaced as well. Are you only feeling the shake in the steering wheel or in your seat, too? If you feel the shake in your seat, the rear rotors are bad as well.

- Jeremy.
 

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Rotors don't warp however the way people brake then sit stopped with brakes clamped down tight - can cause material to build up on the rotors which then can cause the vibration being discussed here. There are people who will always have this issue with any car due to how they drive and use the brakes - there are other people who will never have this issue because of the way they use the brakes on the car. Can you alter your braking behavior to avoid causing this issue? Sure but most people can't change their driving habits.

When braking to a stop. STop the car leaving room to roll a tad forward once stopped this helps eliminate cooking brake pad material into the discs caused by coming to a stop and sitting there with the brake pads cooking material into the disc vs rolling a tad forward to a cooler spot on the disc. At least thats what I've been told and read over the years and after doing 180,000 miles on my original discs on my last subaru and finding out that my driving habit is to do this - it makes some argument that it does work. Big long down hill runs - down shift the car! Use a lower gear to help keep speeds checked and keep the brakes cooler given you use them less.

40,000 miles on our 2010 Ob some of them towing in hilly long down hill runs etc and the brakes are smooth zero issues even with added load of towing.
 

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2011 2.5i Limited, CVT, Moonroof, Steel Silver
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Discussion Starter #5
At 21,500 miles, warped rotors on a car I have owned for 2 years is NOT what I wanted to hear, but it does make sense. I only feel the vibration in the steering wheel and not in the seat as JTrujillo86 suggested may be taking place.

I do not consider my braking habits aggressive. As I noted, I have been driving this route since 1976 - Volkswagens, Hondas, Buicks, even my Chevrolet Vega - :gasp: never had this problem. I always use the transmission to slow the car on the downhill side and brake only when necessary.


There are 1,965,235 Subies along the I-70 corridor here in Colorado, and is just does not add up.

I guess I will have them checked out at next service.

Thanks everyone.
 

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in general I'm annoyed with the ability of newer cars to have these rotor issues - it's definitely quite common. I'm not sure why, but it just is and it's not only relegated to Subaru's. I'm assuming it's driven by something industry wide...sizes, weights, emissions, safety, competition, economy, etc.

you will certainly want to make sure the caliper slides are properly greased and in good condition. if not they can cause the pad to sit on the rotor more than necessary and exacerbate issues.

ideally yours being so new should simply be turned and not replaced. i would not let them replace them - rotors that new definitely have plenty of material to replace.

although if it's under warranty maybe you should get new rotors? then they'll last longer - have more turnings available so to speak.

I do not consider my braking habits aggressive. As I noted, I have been driving this route since 1976 - Volkswagens, Hondas, Buicks, even my Chevrolet Vega - :gasp: never had this problem.
those cars also may have weighed less, had drum brakes instead of disk brakes, are of an era where emissions, lighter equipment, smaller brakes, quantitative safety testing, weren't as much of a concern...etc. brake systems on older cars were generally more reliable in my experience (though I only know 80s, 90's, 2000's stuff.) rotor issues are less common in 80's, 90's stuff than late 90's and 2000's. it's either the weight, safety, emissions, larger brake equipment....or lower quality/grade materials for the rotors?

i'm not sure why that is...
 

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2020 Outback Touring XT, in Crystal White Pearl
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Maybe this wasn't the real cause, but I'm semi-convinced that I had a rotor warp on another vehicle due to a lug nut or two being overtorqued. The vibration during braking developed fairly soon after a tire rotation, and certainly it seemed like it took excessive force to loosen two of the 5 lugnuts. In fact, re-torquing the lugnuts seemed to diminish the problem (partly). The bad rotor was thick enough to allow a turning, and that got rid of the problem. (But I agree that over-heating is the more usual culprit.)

I kind of think that rotors are being made thinner and lighter than they used to be, with less material for turning (and for some brands the norm is just to replace the rotors). I think this has made them more prone to warping.
 

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We had the very same thing happen on our 2010 after a trip to the mtns. It was the left front rotor. We had it cut and have not had a problem since.

Too. Going along with what subiesailor said about material building up on the rotors, I read that just getting on the brakes will often clear this material. I do this at random intervals when I feel the rotors start to wobble. I get the car up to 50-60 mph and stand on the brakes, getting the brakes good and hot. I'll repaet this several times in a row then shut the car down, allowing the brakes to cool completely...It works.
 
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