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2005 Subaru Outback 3.0R VDC Limited
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Preface: I had to re-register because of lost email, my previous UN was Tahoe Outback.

Background:
I have a 2005 OBW Limited 3.0R VDC. I bought it in November 2015 with 55,000 miles from an old man in Sebastopol, CA. $10K which I thought was a steal (the kicker was the pano roof does not function, so it's just a big window).

At 68,000 (June 2016), I had the front pads and rotors done. Well, I made several long mountain road trips and moved to Nevada City (at the foot of California's Sierra Nevada mountains) this Summer, and am now at 98,000. My front brake pads are shot once again. Rotors aren't warped, but they looked quite grooved. 30,000 seems pretty crappy to already need pad replacement (and possibly rotors), but I live and drive in the mountains, so I suppose it's not too abnormal. Also note: I changed my own rear pads and rotors (Bosch pads, cheap-ish aftermarket rotors).


My questions:


1) What can be done to improve the braking on these cars?
2) Is there an upgraded pad/rotor combo that's worth the expense?
3) After replacing my rear rotors/pads, I had some squeeking that went away. But I still have some noise from pads skimming rotors when brakes are not applied. Also, I get pretty harsh squeeking when I brake in reverse. I did change out the clips with new ones, and grease the ears of the pads and caliper pins

Many Thanks!

Noah
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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lots of blanks in the question but I'll throw out some ideas; learn to downshift on long descents - brakes are better for momentary deceleration, not 'long term braking'. Use either name brand ceramic or semi-metallic pads. 'Economy' pads are not for folks keeping a car. many consumables are offered in a range of quality and the cheap stuff is often for someone about to flip/sell a car. You can't expect brakes in the mountains to last as long as brakes in flatland. make sure you or any other driver doesn't 'ride' the brakes. make sure calipers and pistons are not sticking.
 

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2005 Subaru Outback 3.0R VDC Limited
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply, Texan. Yeah, I try to downshift on any length descents. My area in Nevada City unfortunately has a lot of steep hills that are hard on the brakes. I never ride the brakes though. My fronts were replaced with OEM rotors and pads.

I'm wondering if I need to replace the rotors now; I can feel that they are grooved to the touch. But not warped (not pedal/steering wheel shake at all). And if I do replace them, is it worth going with slotted or cross drilled rotors?
 

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2005 Subaru Outback 3.0R VDC Limited
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm thinking about buying this set: EBC Signature Kits, Stage 4 brakes, slotted rotors, with kevlar-ceramic pads for $261..
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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soob brakes are generally considered robust and high quality but, there is a minimum rotor thickness stamped on the rotor - I THINK a general rule of thumb is, about 2mm total, or 1mm on each side so, take a look at any 'liip' that has formed on the edge, if it's 1mm, probably time for new rotors. I'd choose Centric brand but, a lot of stuff from China has had variable quality. Dunno how much OEM rotors would cost.

waviness is not really a problem, the pad will wear in in the first few stops - just like it is now.

EBC does have some pads that folks like, the problem with some 'race' type pads is, they won't bite well until warm(or they are noisy, or hard on rotors, or dusty, or crazy expensive). I run StopTech Street performance on my WRX and they bite fine at 12-15*, about as cold as it gets here. They are affordable and long-lasting and quiet. They do dust more than stock. There's always a trade-off which is why manufacturers aren't putting race pads and slotted rotors on cars stock.

I would not get slotted or drilled unless I was racing regularly, even then, I'd really study the issue. Modern pads don't outgas as much as older pads and the reason slots came about was to clear the gas.

Do you tow or are you regularly heavily loaded? anyway, there are many threads about braking, do a search.
 

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You can touch up the bite and thermal profile with different pads, and there are a lot of good choices. I'd dare say few bad choices.

The good centric rotors seem to last longer than others. They have several series available.

I spent a couple of kilobucks messing around with my brakes. I eventually installed same-year Legacy GT rotors (larger diameter) and some Wilwood superlite calipers with some SS lines. I have hawk pads on the rear, kept everything else in the wheel well stock.

The biggest change was from the master cylinder brace. Nothing improved the pedal feel as much as that one accessory, and it wasn't a small improvement. It's a big deal.

If I were doing it over again I'd start with the brace first.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Do you tow or are you regularly heavily loaded? anyway, there are many threads about braking, do a search.
I sometimes have it pretty loaded -I use it as a truck. Firewood, camping trips with several bikes and gear, lumber store runs, etc.

I did search, but I felt like it was an issue was a bit unique and also to kinda reintroduce myself. I appreciate you advice!

You can touch up the bite and thermal profile with different pads, and there are a lot of good choices. I'd dare say few bad choices.

The good centric rotors seem to last longer than others.
Good call. I went ahead and ordered Centric Premium rotors with E-Coating. They were like $60 for the pair. And then Wagner Ceramic pads (good ratings on Amazon, plus Prime shipping).

Can you give me a little more info on the Master Cylinder brace? How is that helpful, and where is best to order from?

Thanks!!
 

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2005 OBXT Ltd Obsidian Black 5MT
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Can you give me a little more info on the Master Cylinder brace? How is that helpful, and where is best to order from?

Thanks!!
The only place that makes a brace that I know of is Grimmspeed. I've got the brace as well. It makes a big difference in initial pedal feel.

I have a set of Legacy GT brakes sitting in a box with SS lines waiting for an opportunity to install, but it's looking pretty far away at this point.
 

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'03 outback limited, '01 Outback Limited, '01 Legacy L wagon, '96 Legacy Brighton wagon
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One thing to remember when changing pads is that you - most of the time - need to resurface ( or at least clean) the rotor surfaces to remove any of the imbeded old pad compound.

Brakes work in part by transferring pad material on to the rotor surface - you are then actually working against the layer of transferred material and not against bare cast iron. Many compounds are totally incompatible with others, and when you try the 2 different compounds scenario, you can end up with really lousy braking capability.

On carbon metallic compounds, they generally penetrate a bit into the rotor surface, so you need to remove about .010" (.25mm) off of each surface to get past the penetration point.

On the older-style organic pads, usually just a through scotchbrite cleaning will suffice. On ceramics, I'll admit to not knowing much about them - the classes of race cars I deal with cannot use them, so I've never bothered to see what is what there.

If your rotors are a bit wavy, you can indeed usually get away with not resurfacing them, but be aware that until the pads wear in to conform to the wavy surface, you can get uneven braking from one side of the car to the other.

On replacement rotors, I'd stick with OEM, or see if a company like Brembo has direct replacements. Stay away from non-brand name Chinese rotors - god only knows what grade and type of cast iron you may get!
 

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Grimmspeed makes braces for 3rd generation Outbacks, but I now notice that your car has VDC- that's a different master cylinder and I don't know that they make one to cover your car. At the very least I know it isn't the same one that fits non-VDC 3rd generation Outbacks like mine.

I don't know if anyone else makes them, or if the Grimmspeed part can be altered to fit. No VDC car to try it on.
 

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2009 OB 2.5i SE 4EAT
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"I had the front pads and rotors done"

Meaning, you did not do them yourself, meaning, you took it to a mechanic, meaning, he put cheap auto parts store garbage on your car, and they wore through unreasonably soon. The very highest end most expensive auto parts store brand ceramic pad is mediocre at best. I have tried them ALL in my 10 years as an Outback owner. Trust me it's all hot garbage, that's the only way a brick and mortar retail chain can profit, anymore.

First of all, if your whole setup wears out too fast, it's always the rotors' fault. Whoa whoa, what about the brake pads? Aren't the pads the most important thing? Absolutely not my friend! They make about HALF the difference. You are creating friction between two materials... cheap soft thin rotors are going to wear out quickly, as quick as the pads, and are also subject to warping from heat and their thinness and softness of the metal, emergency braking on the highway after a long drive on a hot day can warp them IN THAT INSTANT. Is that what you want? Or do you want equipment that is made to handle racing, which you could emergency brake on all day long? Bad rotors also send the problem back to the pads. The pads don't grip as consistently, and the warped rotors cause uneven and accelerated padwear.

ROTORS: I now exclusively buy rotors made by Centric, and I get the Premiums (coated). They are an incredible value. If you buy them on Amazon they may cost equal or less what the auto parts store charges for their garbage. However the Centric Premium rotors are EQUAL OR GREATER in quality compared to the OEM Subaru rotors your car was born with. They will go through about 4 sets of high-end pads (and be turned twice) on average before you have to replace them, and that's if you drive like me, which is pretty heavy on the brakes.

StopTech / PowerSlot are two brand names that are enthusiast-oriented, but their rotors are 100% made by Centric. They are identical to the Centric Premium rotors, because they ARE the premium rotors, but they have slots and/or holes machined into them so you can look cool! And they charge double or triple.

sidenote said:
Actually, slots do help scrub the pads and eject debris that might score a smooth rotor, arguably keep things cooler, but really, it makes no difference in stopping power and might even cause premature pad wear (as the pad strikes a hard edge several times per rotation). Holes just make a rotor fragile and remove metal, so that it gets heatsoaked and warped or even cracked more easily. They are stupid, but they look cool. Do you want to be smart, or cool? Up to you.
PADS: HAWK HPS or StopTech are going to run you around $50 a pair, front or rear.
W O R T H E V E R Y P E N N Y but they are V E R Y H I G H O N B L A C K D U S T
These are the best braking you can get on your Outback without upgrading your calipers, changing lines to braided stainless steel, etc. They are the best braking direct-fit replacement, I should say.

If you want your wheels to stay cleaner, and you are not an insane late braker like I am, you can save a few bucks and go with the Centric Posi-Quiet Ceramic pads, which stop almost as good as sport pads, produce about half as much dust (and the dust is gray so it doesn't show as much) and exponentially better than anything at the autoparts store. I have emergency braked on Posi-Quiet Ceramic pads numerous times and they have kept me safe from harm. Outside of a track you honestly wouldn't notice the difference between those and the $50 ones I mentioned above.

another note said:
Brake noise is almost never the pads and almost always the brake hardware, or time for the rotors to be turned smooth again due to rust build up grinding against the edge of the pad, or the edge of the brake hardware. When it is the pads, its because they are horrible pads, or because they are at the end of their life and the indicator is SUPPOSED to be making that horrible squeal, to let you know your pads are done.
That's my $0.02... or rather... swear jar full of coins for ya.

-Luf
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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good post

Centric Posi-Quiet Ceramic is what I run on our OBW. They also seem to be very long lived. No complaints about noise or dust. As good as OEM IMHO but less $$.

luf - no problem at low temps with your StopTech SP pads?

we haven't mentioned tires but, no one should waste money on extensive brake upgrades and then run hard compound tires. stickier tires stop better (bonus, grip the corners better too)

Seemed like the OP was concerned about longevity and I think the Centric PQ Ceramic would be good for him to try next.
 

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1) What can be done to improve the braking on these cars?
2) Is there an upgraded pad/rotor combo that's worth the expense?
3) After replacing my rear rotors/pads, I had some squeeking that went away. But I still have some noise from pads skimming rotors when brakes are not applied. Also, I get pretty harsh squeeking when I brake in reverse. I did change out the clips with new ones, and grease the ears of the pads and caliper pins
Hi Noah, if my post above was tldr;

1) EVERYONE else has already addressed this question

2) Centric Premium rotors + Centric Posi-Quiet Ceramic pads all around. Or the same rotors with StopTech Street pads (also made by Centric). The latter is what I'm rocking right now on my Outback. You will be very impressed with either combination, I promise. Remember, Posi-quiet, low amounts of gray dust. StopTech, high amounts of black dust (until they bed in, then the amount of dust does go down).

3) Skimming happens because of 3 things: warped rotors, a lip of rust has built up on the rotor and it's time to machine them, or you need to inspect your calipers and make sure they are functioning properly... #1 way to do this, remove, clean, and regrease (SILICONE ONLY) all of your caliper slide pins including their bushing and boots and including cleaning out the holes in the caliper itself with some brake parts cleaner and a wire brush snake or a screwdriver with a rag on it. An ungreased, rusty, sticking caliper slide pin can most definitely cause skimming, and even more likely than that your pads will wear diagonally, or one pad will wear out way sooner than its match on the other side of the rotor. So keep an eye out for those symptoms.

I get the grinding in reverse. This is definitely the brake hardware. Swapping it out with new hardware may not be enough. I also had to grind the rust off the narrow edge of my rotors, AND use various tapping tools to hammer the part of the brake hardware right flush against the body of the caliper bracket where the edge of the rotor passes by. You just need that little extra mm of clearance to make the noise go away. If you let it go, eventually you will get the same noise going forward (particularly if you are braking down a steep hill for a long time, it will really be noisy after that).

AREN'T BRAKES FUN!?

-Luf
 

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luf - no problem at low temps with your StopTech SP pads?
That is an EXCELLENT question. I put these pads on in the spring, when it was still around 50 degrees. I have been enjoying them in every kind of weather since then. No idea if the extreme cold temperatures of a New York winter will affect them. I do run dedicated winter tires, but I will pay extra special attention to my braking when it starts to get REALLY cold out. Unfortunately I don't have an answer for you now.

If need be, I'll clean my rotors and switch to ceramics pads for the winter, which I know from experience perform the same all year 'round. But I have never heard of StopTechs being a problem in the cold, you're the first one who's brought that to my attention. Is it a concern?

we haven't mentioned tires but, no one should waste money on extensive brake upgrades and then run hard compound tires. stickier tires stop better (bonus, grip the corners better too)
Word. Good rotors and pads are still cheap but I assume you mean major brake upgrades like brembos, complete transplants from a different model, etc. That I agree with. I also put crazy good rubber on my car this spring and it has been unbelievable what kind of hairpin turns I can control my way through, and how fast I can stop.

A word of caution to anyone trying to go "ultimate" with brakes... you may be able to stop as fast as the motorcycle in front of you... but the garbage truck behind you will most certainly rear end you. You will outbrake most other cars on the road, now. You have a responsibility to give them adequate time and space to do their part. Driving safety is a cooperative effort. I'll take my soapbox and go now..

-Luf
 

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(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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well, I have yet to hear of anyone with cold bite complaints, certainly here we don't see anything much below the teens. Just wondering.

MOST of the time I suspect ceramics would be fine on my WRX, but I'm convinced extensive damage and maybe injury was avoided a coupla years ago when stupid Heather C. made a u-turn in front of me from the lane to my right without even looking for traffic. Car slowed crazy fast, only a handful of ABS 'bumps' before impact but, still, both cars got bent - hers broke the front left knuckle! she just kept coming at me! I was running the StopTechs and I had Kumho ECSTA 4X tires on at the time. She just kept coming at me even though I was swerving out of the way. Good thing there was a coupla witnesses at a cafe right there. If not, you just KNOW they're gonna find some way to blame the guy in the WRX instead of a woman in a PT Cruiser.

stupid Heather C.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Wow. Lots of great info here! Thanks, Luf and Texan!

When I had my pads done, I took it to a very reputable mechanic (I used to race Motocross with the guys kids). He uses only OEM parts, and is also not cheap.

For the past 7 years, I was living in a townhouse that I owned in Sacramento, and didn't have a garage or any good space to wrench on my cars. Now, I have one huge garage, a second wood working garage, and on two acres. Needless to say, I'm stoked to be working on my vehicles again in a nice clean/big garage.

As mentioned (and later recommended) I ended up purchasing: Centric Premium Rotors and along with Wagner Ceramic Pads. Centric Pads were unavailable. But the Wagners have lots of really good reviews.

Before my rear brakes start to wear diagonally, I'm going to take them off and try some of the things you mentioned to mitigate the skimming and grinding in reverse (although last couple days that has seemed to have gone away).

Side note: I'm running Falken Pro G4 All Season tires. They have less than 7,000 miles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
One other question: The two caliper pins.... one has a ribbed plastic sleeve on it (but still the same diameter as the none-plastic-sleeve pin). How do I know which pin position to put it in? (top or bottom, for lack of a better description of the caliper pin locations)
 

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The only place that makes a brace that I know of is Grimmspeed. I've got the brace as well. It makes a big difference in initial pedal feel.

I have a set of Legacy GT brakes sitting in a box with SS lines waiting for an opportunity to install, but it's looking pretty far away at this point.
Is it the LGT brace that fits the 05 OB?

Also Hawk (HPS) pads stink. They work well till they are halfway worn and then lose the initial bite that makes them popular. They also don't just dust, they chunk. And those chunks stick to your wheels and take the finish off when you try to get it off.
 
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