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Hi I bought a 1998 Legacy Outback about two months ago. It has the 2.5 with an automatic trans. When I start the car in the morning when it's cold (I live in California so it never gets freezing cold) the car surges at first like any other car upon start up, but then only goes down to about 1500 rpm and idles there. I'll then give the gas pedal the slightest touch, and when I do the RPMs nose dive for a split second before coming back up (Vacuum issue?) and then they drop down to about 1100 rpm. From there, the car has little surges/dips in the idle until the car has warmed up, by then the car is idling at a normal 750 RPM. Is this normal? Seems like every other car I've owned surges upon startup, but the rpms automatically drop off as soon as the initial surge of gas passes through.

Also, I took my subi into a "specialist" shop here in San Jose and they wanted to do my rear brakes, in the bid they printed off for me of all the things they wanted to fix, part of the brake job (on top of getting new pads and resurfaced rotors) included: "Disassemble, clean, and lubricate caliper slides. Clean and lubricate caliper hardware". What does this entail and how hard is it to do?
 

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The idle is normal. Its warming up. It will also idle down before engaging a gear in the automatics if its still in warm up mode so the trans doesn't kick hard.

Brake hardware should be replaced with the pads, not cleaned and reused. It develops little divots in the surface that allows for brake pad vibration. The hardware helps hold the pad stable in operation as well as give the ends of the pads a slide point. The guide pins should be cleaned and lubed with every brake repair.

You should also flush the system.
 

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Thanks for the input. Any recommended hardware kits, pads, or rotors? Do you think cleaning the guide pins is all the shop was talking about or is there more to it? Like actually disassembling the caliper? Would it be necessary?
 

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If you are going to do the work yourself, Akebono or Bosch pads are best, hardware is most times included in the box. Rotors: Anywhere except Auto Zone. Ohter suppliers carry good pads, just steer away from the base/cheap pads, and I'm not fond of Wagner Thermo Quiet. I call them thermo noise. Whistle like a bus after 500 miles or so.

Disassembly of the caliper should not be necessary except in the event the brake system is saturated with water or there is a sign of piston seizure in the pad wear (the interior pad will wear faster when this occurs; the outer will wear faster when the pins seize in the bracket). In this case, it is easy to do and takes less than 10 minutes each. The piston is blown out, interior and piston surface cleaned, bleeder screw cleaned or replaced and reassembled with the same seal as long as it is not torn or hardened. If the seal is worn, the caliper will need to be replaced since the seal is what pulls the piston back in when you release pressure. Last I checked, there weren't any caliper rebuild kits available for a lot of the Subaru lineup in my area. Don't know about where you are.

He was most likely referring to cleaning the hardware clips and cleaning the guide pins that the caliper slides on. The hardware needs to be replaced, and cleaning/lubing the pins takes 2 minutes.
 

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Should I also avoid the O'reilly auto Brake Best cheap rotors and pads then?

Does flushing the system pretty much involve: sucking the old fluid out, putting in new fluid, and bleeding each caliper until new fluid comes out?

I like doing things myself but I'm still learning.
 

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Oreilly's is a good pad and rotor combo. They carry different lines, so be sure to get the one that has the shims on the pad. The shims help reduce pad vibration which is where some "whistles" come from.

Pick up a small tube of silicone lube to lube the guide pins and put a thin/light layer on the hardware clips. Clean the hub and inside of the rotor that mates with the hub with sandpaper to remove rust. You can apply a layer of lube on the hub to help reduce rust build up in the future.

With flushing, yes, suck out the old fluid from the resevoir and refill it. If you have someone to help you, and you could call it exercise for them, have them sit in the driver seat and pump the brake pedal while you open the bleed valve and watch for clean fluid. You open, they pump slow and steady and when you see a good streem of clean fluid have the helper hold the pedal down on the floor and you close the valve. Check to make sure the master cylinder is full after each wheel.
 

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Hardware - Yes replacing is a good idea - particularly on cars this old, new cars can sometimes skip it. It's ***really*** simple, it's zero extra work except for swapping the parts themselves. Once the brake pads are out, simply remove the pins, boots, and clips, there's nothing to it. I can't stress how easy it is.

That being said - you can wire brush the clips and clean out/regrease the slide pins if you don't want to buy any parts. It's not that big of a deal and if you do your own work...or tire rotation it only takes a minute or two to check them once or so a year to make sure they're free and regrease again if needed...whatever fits you best will give you good performance if you do that. I err towards saving the time and being done with it though and get the hardware.

On a 1998, around here (rust belt), the chance exists for them to be in terrible shape though...

Rockauto has great deals on hardware and boots. I just bought some this week from there - the clips/hardware kits are like $20 from the local stores and way less from rockauto. Of course there's shipping but I'm generally ordering a lot of parts. I got an excellent set of ceramic pads for like $23 too.

Make sure you get the right parts, Rockauto has confusing listings sometimes and doesn't delineate well a part that might not be the right one. I use google, amazon, ebay, advance auto parts, any other online places to see trends with which parts are expected. THis is muddied up by Subaru's inexplicable tendency to use all sorts of various brake combinations, they're crazy. Best option is to physically look at your pads and make sure the shape is right...same with clips and boots too. It is *very* easy to get the wrong brake parts on Legacy, Outback, Foresters.

Some brake pads come with new clips.

Brake pads and rotors - doesn't much matter. I don't like the cheap stuff but not because they don't work - they're dirty and wear out quick. It's not like it's significantly inferior - companies would be getting sued all the time. Most performance issues are going to be hardware or fluid related. That being said, I still don't buy the cheap stuff. All the talk and favortism, hype about pads can mostly be take with a grain of salt in my experience. So far every product I've used from any store is indistinguishable to me in terms of performance....again with the exception of cheap stuff just not lasting long.

Flushing sort of depends how you do it, there are multiple ways. The old school method is ideally a two person affair (although in a pinch i've done it myself but it's not fun and no one does it that way)...simply pump the brakes while opening/closing (close while pedal is being pushed down so no air gets sucked back in) the bleeder screw at each wheel until air quits coming out. Do it in the proper order. There are now self bleeders - that presssurize from the master cylinder or extract from the calipers. Be sure to always maintain high enough fluid level in the master cylinder so it doesn't run out.
 

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I don't have any problem flushing the brake fluid by myself. I bought the $5 kit from advanced auto that contains a plastic bottle with a magnet and some 1/4 tubing. I attach the bottle to the side of the fender at a point higher then the brake bleeder and connect the tubing between the brake bleeder and bottle. The I use a turkey baster to remove the old brake fluid from the reservoir, fill with new fluid, open the bleeder, and pump the brakes until clear fluid arrives at the bottle. No air is sucked back because the bottle is higher then the bleeder.

I have done all three of my subarus this way.
 
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