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2004 Subaru Outback L.L Bean Edition - 3.0L H6
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
2004 Subaru Outback
H6 - 3.0L - L.L Bean Edition
~224,000 Miles


I did a full replacement of the pads, rotors and calipers on my 2004 Subaru Outback; now I am quite sure that my brakes are sticking periodically.


The car will periodically shake, tends to pull in either direction, and become somewhat more difficult to turn, especially at highway speeds. The wheel bearing makes noise and the car has always pulled to the right a little, but not as bad as this and the car veers to the left sometimes as well now. There was one occasion where the shaking was so bad I had to get off the highway because the car felt like it would've shaken itself apart. As for getting harder to turn, I mostly notice it when I'm going slow and taking a sharp turn, it just feels like I have to muscle the wheel more than I remember having to. I have also rarely noticed a light grinding noise from the front left rotor - like the rotor and pads making contact - but I haven't heard it for about 200 miles now. And another thing, though it might not be too important, there is a slight clunk noise from the rear when I brake sometimes, but I think it may just be the pads moving a tiny bit. The pads are in the caliper with the proper pad brackets and the calipers aren't loose at all.

I have tried making sure that all the slide/guide pins are all lubricated and moving freely, which they are. The pads on all 4 corners are all lubricated at the ears and where the caliper makes contact - with no lube on the rotor contact side. I don't recall majorly twisting any brake hoses during the job and there's no leaks, bulges or twists at the hoses that I or my mechanic could see and I haven't lost any Dot 3 fluid thus far. I've driven the car about 500 miles after the replacement so I don't think this has to do with any bedding in process. I bled the brakes many times and no more air or dirty fluid comes out.

Being the first time I have done brakes on a car, I did make some mistakes. I accidentally switched the brakes calipers around when I initially installed them - That is I put the left on the right and vice versa. And I did this with both the front and the back calipers. Impressive, I know. After figuring that out by not having any brakes at all, I switched all the calipers around, and after bleeding them again, I was able to brake. On top of that, the only reason I replaced the calipers in the first place is because while I was doing my rotors and pads, I broke a bolt inside of one of the brake caliper brackets as well as the bleeder valves on two of the calipers simply snapped off because they were so dang rusted.

I also decided to replace the parking brake shoes because they were stuck onto the rotor really tight on the passenger rear and broke off when the rotor finally came off - after much time and effort. I wonder if maybe I over adjusted one of the parking brake mechanisms, but I feel like I would've noticed substantial drag against the rotor while installing them and grinding while in motion if that were the case.

While the car was jacked off the ground, I also decided to rotate the tires, switching the position of the front and rear tire on both the passenger and drivers sides. So when I was test driving I assumed that the car was shaking because my tires were out of balance. So I went to a shop to get them balanced and it changed nothing it seems. I even tried un-rotating the tires and it made no difference.

I decided to use one of those infrared laser thermometers and found that sometimes one rotor may be hotter than it's opposite. For instance I recorded at one point that my drivers rear rotor was 93F as compared to the passenger side rotor which was 37F. The thing is though, I have noticed similar behavior from the front wheels, with maybe around a 50F difference in temperature, and I believe I have had the passenger rear rotor be hotter than the drivers rear rotor as well. And sometimes the rotors all seem to have normal and mostly matching temperatures (For Left / Right) So whatever it is, the problem does not seem to be consistent in location or severity. I will be trying to collect more data on the rotor temperatures.

While I was bleeding the brakes, the person in the car pumping the brakes was pushing the pedal all the way to the floor - which is something I've come to learn is not recommended, especially on a 17 year old car with 224,000 miles on it. My fear is that this may have damaged the master cylinder seals or maybe even the brake booster. On top of that, my car has always had this problem in cold weather where you need to pump the brakes at first in order for them to work effectively, but it seems like this may be a problem with most all Outbacks of this Generation.

Some of my theories on what it may be:
  • An over adjusted parking brake shoe?
  • A defective master cylinder - damaged seals?
  • Defective brake booster?
  • Brake Booster Check valve?
  • Internally damaged brake hose?
  • Simply just crappy, sticking calipers out of the box?
  • Air stuck in some strange spot in the system?
I would really like to remedy this problem myself (with you guys' help of course) and not have to bring it to my mechanic for a diagnosis. He already had a quick look-over on it and said it seems to look okay and stop okay. He said if I still have problems or if it gets worse to call him and he'll do some more involved diagnosis, but he's like 40 minutes from my house now and I don't want to find a new mechanic near me at the moment. Also it'd feel a lot better to do on my own.

So any help that you guys could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.


The Parts I got are here:

Rear Calipers
- Rear Pair Brake Calipers For Subaru Baja Impreza Legacy Outback | eBay

Front Calipers - Subaru Saab Front 2 Piece Brake Caliper Set TRQ CLA37638

Rotors and Brake Pads - Subaru Baja Legacy Outback Front & Rear Ceramic Brake Pad & Rotor Kit TRQ BKA11609

(I understand I didn't exactly get the highest quality parts, but they shouldn't be sticking when they're out of the box, especially not as strangely as this, right?)

Now here some pictures of my car, because she's a cool guy.

20200823_183626.jpg
20200902_105656.jpg
20200904_142318.jpg
20200907_155508.jpg


Some points I want to add in Post:
  • I was prompted to do the pads and rotors in the first place because there was a rough shaking when I was braking at highway speeds, as well as the brakes going to the floor one time for almost no reason. The wheel and car no longer shakes when I brake at highway speeds, in fact it seems like any shaking goes away when I apply the brakes. And the brakes going to the floor was a one-off thing and hasn't happened again yet.

  • I've taken apart the calipers and lubed them and the pins, however the lower sliding pin on the passenger rear caliper feels more stubborn than any other pin, even after cleaning it and its area and relubricating it (I am using silicone lube Sil-Glyde). However it doesn't seem to be so stubborn that a brake system couldn't overcome it. Also the driver rear is the rotor that gets consistently hotter, not the passenger side.

  • I noticed some squeaking when I torque some of my lug nuts to 70 ft-lbs. And I believe while taking them off too.

  • In the last 4 years where I owned it the car has put on more than 70,000 miles and been in 2 pretty bad accidents where both times the car had to have lots of work done and struts/wheels replaced. But all seems to have been fine for over a year now.

  • The treads on all the wheels are equal despite a single mismatched rim - hasn't been a problem. All the rims edges are fine except for looking old.

  • The car has blown a caliper before on the driver side front, maybe like 18 months ago now. When I got that replaced it wasn't a problem no more.
 

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Premium Member
(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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18,332 Posts
I would like clarification on this;
The treads on all the wheels are equal despite a single mismatched rim - hasn't been a problem. All the rims edges are fine except for looking old.
specifically, are all 4 tires the same brand/model/size and near each other in treadwear?

also, have you tried using the FWD fuse?
 

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2020 Onyx
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10,273 Posts
(I understand I didn't exactly get the highest quality parts, but they shouldn't be sticking when they're out of the box, especially not as strangely as this, right?)
You posted a beautifully detailed and well written request for help, complete with wonderful photos. That kind of dedication and consideration is in contrast to the parts you selected. I get it. OEM is overpriced, or at least seemingly so, but when it comes to critical life-saving parts (brake calipers), or parts that could easily destroy your engine (timing belt kits) you gambled on parts of unknown quality.

I too buy no-name brand things like cabin filters, but I wouldn't buy unknown manufacturer tires.

Having never heard of ECCPP parts the first thing I came across was a video questioning their quality.


I don't know enough to say that your calipers are the problem, but those are the parts you changed.
 

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2004 Subaru Outback L.L Bean Edition - 3.0L H6
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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I would like clarification on this;

specifically, are all 4 tires the same brand/model/size and near each other in treadwear?

also, have you tried using the FWD fuse?
Yes, the tires are all the same model and all have the same treadwear pattern, some on the outer edge. They were all installed at the same time, It just has one rim which is not like the other three 5-spoke rims, but its the right size.

And no I have not even heard of the FWD fuse until now

Ill try to get pictures of some things like the tread wear and rotors tomorrow if I can.
 

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2004 Subaru Outback L.L Bean Edition - 3.0L H6
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6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You posted a beautifully detailed and well written request for help, complete with wonderful photos. That kind of dedication and consideration is in contrast to the parts you selected. I get it. OEM is overpriced, or at least seemingly so, but when it comes to critical life-saving parts (brake calipers), or parts that could easily destroy your engine (timing belt kits) you gambled on parts of unknown quality.

I too buy no-name brand things like cabin filters, but I wouldn't buy unknown manufacturer tires.

Having never heard of ECCPP parts the first thing I came across was a video questioning their quality.

I don't know enough to say that your calipers are the problem, but those are the parts you changed.
Yeah I probably could've been more patient with this whole process and did it better, live and learn. I want to try and rule out other problems before getting different calipers if possible. It seems like people don't really have issues with the brakes but yeah it does not seem to be the best quality lol.
 

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2020 Onyx
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10,273 Posts
I hope you get this figured out and wish you the best of luck! It's a beautiful car and some day soon you'll get it running right!
 

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2004 Subaru Outback L.L Bean Edition - 3.0L H6
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So today I had to do some driving and measured the rotor temperatures throughout the day. It seems like the front rotors stay consistently within about 10F Degrees of each other. The rears seem to have an issue, so maybe it is just those rear calipers from ECCPP.

The temperatures I recorded are as follows, in Fahrenheit:

Driver Rear:103931138486
Passenger Rear:4637449340

As you can see theres a pretty big defference in temperature a lot of the time.

I also measured the MPG and found I was getting about 20 MPG, which is better than I expected it to be honestly.

I'm considering getting higher quality calipers - at least for the rear - and returning those ECCPP ones. I would appreciate if I could get some pointers on where to buy quality/OEM parts. Or perhaps what good qualities or manufacturers to look out for when looking for parts.
 

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2020 Onyx
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10,273 Posts
You can get a discount code from these guys if you want the OEM part:


They are affiliated with a genuine Subaru dealership.
 

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2004 Subaru Outback L.L Bean Edition - 3.0L H6
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I've replaced the calipers with remanufactured ones from Autozone. I felt they would be good because they were Tokico brand, like the original ones that were on the car. Now the rotors have normal and equal temperatures and the shaking/pulling on the highway seems to have lessened. Thanks for the help.
 

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2020 Onyx
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10,273 Posts
Glad you solved the problem and came back to close the loop!
 
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