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Discussion Starter #1
I've been driving a few Gen1s and Gen2s around, looking for a decent used example, but I've noticed that almost universally, they have really soft brakes. Is it just the age, or is this typical for older Outbacks? A design flaw?

Any suggestions on how to stiffen up the brakes and make them more effective? I don't mind spending money on stainless hoses and better carbon pads, brakes are one place not to skimp!
 

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Subaru by design has had soft pedal feel - its not your dads Domestic over boosted car.

A soft pedal does not mean poor brake performance by the way.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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probably have 10+ year old brake fluid in them, they rarely get flushed.
a thorough brake job should have it performing well and biting nicely.

flush the fluid
clean and grease the slides
turn the rotors or buy new
put some decent pads on it
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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rubber lines can get soft and balloon - try new hoses at the wheels (some folks hate, others like stainless braided lines - your choice)

some folks report a stiffer brake feeling after installing a master cylinder brace

fluid flush as mentioned

try Centric Posiquiet Ceramic pads or, for spirited driving or occasional track days, Stoptech Street Performance pads.


remember - brakes only stop the wheels from turning, TIRES stop your car.
 

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rubber lines can get soft and balloon - try new hoses at the wheels
i have never seen a failed brake line on a Subaru, I think they're brake hoses are quite robust...or i've just gotten lucky.

some folks hate, others like stainless braided lines - your choice)
interesting, why do folks dislike stainless? probably provides more feedback?
 

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Stainless brake lines actually do not meet specs due to their poor weathering ability. Track cars - etc they work fine given the brake system gets reworked and checked all the time no big deal etc.

#1 have the fluid flushed
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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i have never seen a failed brake line on a Subaru, I think they're brake hoses are quite robust...or i've just gotten lucky.

interesting, why do folks dislike stainless? probably provides more feedback?

yeah, I wasn't implying they may burst, just not be as 'stiff' (resistant to expansion)as new hoses. leading to a soft/mushy feeling. Considering the environment they encounter, I'd think refreshing them after 10-12-15 years might not be a bad idea. Of course, modern hoses may have better materials than in 'the old days' so - your experience is probably more pertinent.

as for the SS braided hoses,I have read that dust/dirt between the stainless armor and the underlying hose can lead to failure from abrasion. The issue seemed a little contentious. Supposedly, there ARE DOT approved ss braided lines. The ones I have on my WRX were Subaru's SPT line. I assume they would meet warranty restrictions - but I admit I noticed no improvement after they were installed - however, it was within the first few months of ownership. Kinda have buyer's remorse on those. Dunno if they were DOT approved or how long they will last. I might swap them out in a few years. Might swap out my wife's 03 OBW's hoses in a year or 2.
 

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I agree with subiesailor. Every Subaru I've driven has had brakes that feel quite different from much of its competition. If they're working right, though, they should certainly be able to stop you very quickly! On mine, they feel a little softer and the pedal might even go a little closer to the floor than I was used to in other vehicles, but if I step on them hard they will stop quick if I need them to.
 

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modern hoses may have better materials than in 'the old days' so - your experience is probably more pertinent
seen hose failure on other makes/models, so it's possible and current. haven't seen it yet on a Subaru....maybe luck or maybe metal rusts faster than rubber degrades so we never see it here.

as for the SS braided hoses,I have read .............but I admit I noticed no improvement after they were installed -
interesting, have never really read up on them but i bought two sets about 5 years ago and have never installed them yet. LOL i should probably think about that sometime soon!
 

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03 H6 OBW & 06 WRX Sportwagon
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seen hose failure on other makes/models, so it's possible and current. haven't seen it yet on a Subaru....maybe luck or maybe metal rusts faster than rubber degrades so we never see it here.

interesting, have never really read up on them but i bought two sets about 5 years ago and have never installed them yet. LOL i should probably think about that sometime soon!
I think, on an older car, it would be possible to notice some improvement IF the idea that old hoses 'balloon' a little is true. That said, replacement with SS braided OR new rubber would feel like an improvement I'd guess.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Soooooo, the Legacy GT calipers use larger pads, and can be swapped in on the Outback with no modifications? Sounds like the way to go, along with new rubber hoses and a master cylinder brace, if I can find one for the Gen2 Outback.
 

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Soooooo, the Legacy GT calipers use larger pads, and can be swapped in on the Outback with no modifications? Sounds like the way to go, along with new rubber hoses and a master cylinder brace, if I can find one for the Gen2 Outback.

You'd want to confirm your wheels will clear too.

Dunno how much improvement you feel you need. I'd suggest you go in stages starting with a fluid flush, 'maybe' new hoses and Stoptech Street Performance pads. Then a MC brace, then pursue the caliper swap if you feel you need it.

Keep in mind, these used cars you're driving may have much poorer pads installed than stock. If you ask for the cheapest pads at AutoZone, they will sell you awful stuff. They'd rather do that than have you take your business down the street. Stock pads and rotors are nice. Akebono makes OEM pads IIRC. Before I put the Centric PosiQuiet Ceramics on the wife's Outback - I had Wagner pads (bought on sale) that were terrifying. They had over half the material still on them when I tossed them for the Centrics.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Great advice, wish more people would follow it. I do my own brakes, and every time I replace the pads, I also replace the rotors, and the slide pins and bushings. I lube the pins (which many shops don't!), and replace the pin boots if they look worn at all. I always go for name brand pads from the Tire Rack (along with Brembo OEM replacement rotors.) My brakes ALWAYS feel better than friends' cars!

I picked up a set of Performance Friction carbon pads years ago. They needed a stop or two to warm up, but once they did, hold on to your seat! Between those and the Z-rated Firestone Firehawks I got for $50 each, I could easily get the point of locking up the tires and forcing the ABS to kick in; in a straight line on warm, dry pavement!
 

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probably have 10+ year old brake fluid in them, they rarely get flushed.
a thorough brake job should have it performing well and biting nicely.

flush the fluid
clean and grease the slides
turn the rotors or buy new
put some decent pads on it
Every 2 yr/30k Fluid flush. Get the water out, pressure and boiling points return to normal; pedal pressure increases. Use semi-metallic pads. Greater friction force.
 

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The legacy GT front brakes made a huge difference for my car. Still have yet to throw the rears on.
 
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