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Purchased 2017 Outback 3.6 Touring August 2017, free options are; trailer hitch, extra large Thule cargo top carrier, remote start, and 0% financing. Very happy with the deal.
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We just picked up her new 2017 Outback a week ago and I test drove four of them within 3 days. On two of them I noticed that the brakes faded a bit. I did put them through hard braking, and on one of test drives, both my wife and I did a brake test on it. Actually brake test if it three times causing the ABS to engage. I noticed that the brakes were not very responsive after that. When I tested the Outback that we purchased it seemed to have good braking, but I only put it through a hard break test one time. Subsequent reading of reviews on the 2017 3.6R shows that the brakes are okay but not superior. What do you recommend for brake pad upgrades, and or brake rotor upgrades? Does Subaru offer any performance upgrades?
 

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2017 Outback 3.6R Touring, Lapis
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I'm not sure what you are planning to do with your Outback that would require a brake upgrade but I'm assuming you know this is not a Porsche. The engagement of the ABS has more to do with the grip of the tires than the performance of the brakes. ABS engages when the sensors detect that the wheels are locking up--which happens when the tires lose traction. So don't use this as a reason. I have a long history with BMW's and Audi's and there is no doubt that the brakes on my 3.6R Touring will not endure the constant high speed applications that the German cars will but I don't see myself taking the Outback to the track either. I like the fact that I don't have to scrub the brake dust off the Outback every 4-5 days like on BMW's and if you upgrade to a higher performance pad, there is always a trade off with dust or noise. I would live with them for a while before you make the decision to change out what the engineers designed for the car.
 

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I'm not sure what you are planning to do with your Outback that would require a brake upgrade but I'm assuming you know this is not a Porsche. The engagement of the ABS has more to do with the grip of the tires than the performance of the brakes. ABS engages when the sensors detect that the wheels are locking up--which happens when the tires lose traction. So don't use this as a reason. I have a long history with BMW's and Audi's and there is no doubt that the brakes on my 3.6R Touring will not endure the constant high speed applications that the German cars will but I don't see myself taking the Outback to the track either. I like the fact that I don't have to scrub the brake dust off the Outback every 4-5 days like on BMW's and if you upgrade to a higher performance pad, there is always a trade off with dust or noise. I would live with them for a while before you make the decision to change out what the engineers designed for the car.
I was wondering the same thing. My '15 is two years old and have yet to have an occasion where I needed to test the performance of the brakes or I have I experienced any brake fade.

Have yet to see an OB at a track day....but I guess there is always a first time.
 

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Master Caster
2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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16,221 Posts
The Outback is NOT a performance vehicle. It's a "utility" vehicle on stilts. The brakes, tire package and suspension are appropriately compliant. There are ZERO, available Subaru manufactured upgrades for you.

With that said, I would agree that chassis and brakes need to be the 1st upgrade if you are looking for more performance. I have 2 Gen3 XTs. The brakes are known to be "meh" on these cars.

The 2006 has full rotor and pad upgrade, stainless lines, master cylinder brace and performance fluid. It stops on a dime. There is almost no fade, the car stops better when they are hot. They belch brake dust all day long...and they grind a bit when coming to a full slow stop.

The 2005 brake system is completely stock except for good replacement brake pads and German brake fluid. THIS car stops just FINE. You just need to push harder. The system just needs more input, the output is the same.

Stop-Tech, Hawk and EBC all make quality products if you are looking to put on some aftermarket stuff.
 

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2016 Outback 3.6R Ltd. w. Eyesight
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227 Posts
Yeah, brake rotors and pads for normal street use are always going to be a compromise between outright stopping power v. feel, noise, longevity, working temperature, price, ability to bed-in properly by the typical driver, resistance to glazing, etc. etc. I'm guessing the master cylinder and lines play a part, too. You may be in the .1% of Outback owners who feel the need to upgrade braking components right out of the box, but hey, there's nothing wrong with that in my book. One of the first things I do whenever I buy a new motorcycle is upgrade the brake pads; I also change the rubber hoses for the front brakes to braided stainless steel fairly early on.
 

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2016 2.5i Outback, 2002 Audi S4 Avant, 1980 CB750F Supersport, 1985 Carrera 3.2
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568 Posts
There are ZERO, available Subaru manufactured upgrades for you.
Not necessarily, the 2015+ Outback shares the same brake assembly (hub, rotor, caliper, master cylinder, ABS module, etc.) as the 2015-2017 WRX. The 2015 WRX is also bolt-on compatible for 2008+ STI rotors which gives you the option of upgrading to those as well (I have checked the Subaru part numbers to cross verify and the swaps have been done plenty of times for WRX owners). Those also have an endless supply of upgrades available that are suitable for the Outback as well if you wish to upgrade the pads or do a full STI caliper swap.

I have thought of doing this as well since you get a big difference in un-sprung weight with the monoblock STI calipers. I can assure you that my STI's brakes with a HPS street pads and upgraded fluid alone are much better than the WRX/Outback and would be a great upgrade for the Outback. Here is a link for a guide on the STI swap:

https://forums.nasioc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2698179

With that said, I would also just look at a tire upgrade first, then stainless steel lines, better fluid, and pad upgrade before doing anything drastic for upgrades. There are plenty of great products available that are used for the WRX platform to make these brakes work really great. As said though, the limiting factor are the tires by far. Since upgrading to K02's and changing my fluid to ATE 200 I have noticed much better feel and stopping power. I'm sure a more compliant road tire would be better as well, but upgrading the brakes should never be looked at as an after thought; it is always a safe investment.
 

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Master Caster
2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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I was not aware of that.

The unsprung weight would certainly be an advantage. But expensive, very expensive. Especially to the extent that you listed.

The upgrades done to my '06 rounded out at about $700 total. And save, the weight savings...the stopping power, feel and lack of fade are almost too much, almost. Most Pot-Conversions I have seen are well into the thousands...sometimes just for 1 end. I have thought about it several times and my wallet always keeps me on track.

I supposed if you actually have that kind of cash, then it would be a nice upgrade. Personally, I would dump a few grand in fixing all the chassis sloppiness before I spent that $ locking down the wheels and changed the chassis dynamics with lighter corners.
 

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Purchased 2017 Outback 3.6 Touring August 2017, free options are; trailer hitch, extra large Thule cargo top carrier, remote start, and 0% financing. Very happy with the deal.
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
"With that said, I would also just look at a tire upgrade first, then stainless steel lines, better fluid, and pad upgrade before doing anything drastic for upgrades."

Thank you everyone for the helpful tips. Sorry if it sounded like I wanted to go into the track. I know it's not a Porsche or BMW. I just wanted to stop better as I was not impressed with it's breaking during my test drives. I'll hold off on swapping the rotors and definitely will change out the pads. I hadn't thought of changing the fluid or the brake lines, so that's something I'll definitely consider. Tires will be upgraded once these start to really wear out unless there's a big market for stock Outback tires on Craigslist. I definitely would not want to change the aspect ratio of the tires but would want to have more of a summer tread pattern since we live in Fort Worth Texas. The WRX swap is awesome but definitely way out of my budget. I'm not even the one who drives this vehicle, I just want it to be able to stop safely, and as I have mentioned before I'm not that impressed with the stock brakes.
 

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The Outback is a family car. I can't imagine the installed brakes are not adequate. Subaru's and especially the models with CVT have that 'quasi' engine brake so the car slows down when you take your foot off the gas. This is a tremendous feature. This makes what the OP referred to as brake fading close to impossible. You would have to be driving down a steep grade for many miles or something like Pikes Peak to cause the brakes to fade. You are not supposed to drive a Subaru like most other cars. Take advantage of the quasi engine brake , it will save you thousands of dollars in brake repairs. If you want to slow down, ease off the gas and you will feel the car slowing down. Although I currently have a Gen 5 OB, On my 04 Forrester, I went 150,000 with changing the front brakes one time and the rear brakes never. Still original. When I tell people this story they tell me its impossible. Don't drive a Subaru the same way you would drive a GMC Yukon .
 

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2017 Outback 2.5i
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96 Posts
Once my brakes are worn out I'll try ebay slotted(maybe even drilled AND slotted) rotors with some aftermarket pads and report back. I had that set up on the front of my 330xi and never had any issues with cracking or warpage with 15k mostly highway miles. Some heavy stops when I had the car too, again no issues.

I wonder if going with aftermarket wheels could help cool the brakes alittle. All of the OE wheels look pretty restrictive. Maybe mess with the bumper and run ducts from the air dam into the wheel well?

I swear every time my brakes start to fade I think I'm in one of those dreams where my brakes give out...nothing like pushing your foot all the way down for it to be half responsive
 

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2016 Outback Limited Titanium
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489 Posts
I can see making improvements to the brakes for safety reasons. As a family car I might just look at better pads and maybe look at improved wheels and tires. Some years ago I upgraded a brand new VW Jetta. I started with the air intake and exhaust for better air in and out. Then ECU upgrade and then new heavy duty Bilstein shocks and front and rear sway bars. Then wheels and tires, then upgraded the brakes. That created a kick-ass Autobahn burner. But I wouldn't do that with my OB. I suppose if you have the money and it's something you want to do, why not? People do put lift kits and AT wheels and tires with beefier skid plates and bumpers on OBs, why not build a road racer?....


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2017 OB 2.5 Lim/ 2005 STI 400 WHP
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My 05 sti is a track toy. In my experience rotor make the biggest difference in the brakes. Not the pads.

The car is also engineered for a specific brake balance. What ever you do to one end do to the other.

Imho ymmv

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2015 Outback 2.5i Limited, Ice Silver/Black
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2017 Carbide Outback 2.5 Premium, 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2004 BMW 330i ZHP
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My 05 sti is a track toy. In my experience rotor make the biggest difference in the brakes. Not the pads.

The car is also engineered for a specific brake balance. What ever you do to one end do to the other.

Imho ymmv

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I always kind of wondered about balancing the braking force between both axels. I don't know a lot about it, it's not unheard of for a performance edition of a car to come with a big brake kit on the front. Even if it's not stock, I know it's very common in the BWM crowd to throw on a caliper from a different model or a bbk from Brembo or BMW Performance. Seems like you'd be fine only modifying one axel, maybe? Anecdotally, I've been running Hawk LTS pads on the front of my jeep for a few years now with phenomenal results. Rears are still stock.

As far as pads vs rotors go, I'm pretty sure it's the pads that will make the bigger difference. I could be wrong here, but I think it's the composition of the pad compound that will change the feel and force. I've always thought of it like different grit levels of sand paper. It's also how you end up with a set of track pads and set of street pads...


I think I'd start with better tires than stock.
I agree! Road & Track: This is Why Tires are the Most Important Modification for your Car
 

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2015 Outback 2.5i Limited, Ice Silver/Black
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Oh, heavens, I forgot the sway bar!
Sway bar, tires, then stop.
 

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2017 OB 2.5 Lim/ 2005 STI 400 WHP
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277 Posts
I always kind of wondered about balancing the braking force between both axels. I don't know a lot about it, it's not unheard of for a performance edition of a car to come with a big brake kit on the front. Even if it's not stock, I know it's very common in the BWM crowd to throw on a caliper from a different model or a bbk from Brembo or BMW Performance. Seems like you'd be fine only modifying one axel, maybe? Anecdotally, I've been running Hawk LTS pads on the front of my jeep for a few years now with phenomenal results. Rears are still stock.

As far as pads vs rotors go, I'm pretty sure it's the pads that will make the bigger difference. I could be wrong here, but I think it's the composition of the pad compound that will change the feel and force. I've always thought of it like different grit levels of sand paper. It's also how you end up with a set of track pads and set of street pads...




I agree! Road & Track: This is Why Tires are the Most Important Modification for your Car
You mention several different things in your post .

It's one thing for a performance model to come with upgraded brakes even if it's just on 1 axle. If they upgrade break someone axle they will also adjust the front to rear brake biased accordingly. This is where I run into problems.

The front to rear brake bias on any car any road car is set up for specific amount of force going to the trunk and rear wheels. They're designed so that at threshold braking the front wheels will be on the edge of ABS wall the rear wheels will be lightly lower thus keeping the car in control.

If there is slightly too much pressure going to have rear wheels that will cause the rear wheel to walk off or kick in Abs slightly sooner which if you are in a makes the rear and more likely to come around which is the worst of all cases.

If you upgrade only the front pads calipers were rotors without paying attention to anything else you are actually leaving breaking performance on the table. It might feel better through the pedal and require less brake pedal force to D celerate quicker. But if the rear brakes are not pulling their fair share of the week in the end your car is actually not slowing down as fast as it could be even if it feels better this is a very common issue in the tuner market.

In conclusion most road cars do not have adjustable brake biased valves. So if you mess with the difference in breaking performance from axle to axle you are making your car less stable under braking and less capable of threshold braking. That's why breaking is probably the most complicated thing on a car to modify.

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2016 Outback 3.6 Ltd Red/ES,20 mm RSB
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I would go for a softer tire for a better braking. May I suggest Michelin Premier LTX which I have on the Jeep and Forester.

I agree. Increasing coefficient of friction of pads will lower the force needed to lock the wheels (no ABS) but it does not translate into shorter stopping distances. Even cheap pads can lock the wheels. Interaction between tires and road surface is what stops the car when braking.
 
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