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I have an '03 OB Sport which I drive pretty hard on all sorts of roads, paths, trails, etc. First of all, let me say that I love my little car. Lots to like. However, my main complaint is the 'mushiness' of the brakes. I feel like the brake pedal travels a whole lot before getting serious and the ABS tends to kick in a little early. In short, it doesn't inspire confidence. I was wondering, not being a mechanic, if it is possible to upgrade the brakes and if so, what kind of prices I can expect to pay. Should I go to the dealer? Will it kill my warranty? I would imagine I'm not the only one with this complaint but has anybody ever made this type of modification?
 

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Welcome. As for pedal feel, stainless steel brake lines will take care of that ~$95. As for stopping power, Axxis Ultimates, Carbotech Bobcats, and many other aftermarket pads that are more aggressive than stock ~$50-100. I too have the OBS with less than adequate brake feel. At least the 04's have rear discs now... Brian
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the information. Will upgrading my brakes void my warranty or anything nasty like that?
 

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bheinz57 said:
Welcome. As for pedal feel, stainless steel brake lines will take care of that ~$95. As for stopping power, Axxis Ultimates, Carbotech Bobcats, and many other aftermarket pads that are more aggressive than stock ~$50-100. I too have the OBS with less than adequate brake feel. At least the 04's have rear discs now... Brian
I saw this an though about the Cobb brake kit, but read my thing on that below. I think Subies come with decent brake although nowhere near the best by any means. My car can scare me from time to time, if I'm going to fast :bonk: and there also the fact of how big and heavy my car really is. I try to take it easy driving around town of course although from time to time (Brian you can tell them :D) I love to race down the Kennedy and I-80.

nehatc said:
Thanks for the information. Will upgrading my brakes void my warranty or anything nasty like that?
If you replace just your brake pads, no. Otherwise if you would the mechanical brake parts (ie get a Cobb brake kit) or mess with your ABS, yes it may void your warranty. Always check with your dealer if you do ANYTHING mechanical that could alter the performance of your car to where it can damage or cause excessive wear to anything mechanical.
 

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IN THEORY the dealership/SOA must 'prove' your mod caused the problem. For instance, hard to see how stainless brake lines could - say - destroy a master cylinder. BUT, in reality, they could claim it indicates you've been racing, or something and a lot of arguing back and forth, meanwhile your car is still not being fixed, could be frustrating.
 

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I own a 2000 OB and i too hate the feel of the brakes. Mushy as all ****. I would like to get some SS brake lines, but for 2 one foot hoses costing 100 bucks!!!?? what a rip off. If anyone knows about a decent deal (being under $60) let me know.
I also am not a big fan of ABS. Thats why i installed a kill switch with protective hood cover. Took all of 15 min and works like a dream. Normally i would not have done this but since i go to school in VT its almost a necessity.
 

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Do not replace only two hoses with SS ones. Always replace the whole cars lines for better proportioning. I read this on NASIOC. Brian
 

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cheap brake feel improvement

don't forget that if your car hasn't had brake fluid changed in last 2 yrs, proper flush & bleed will make a noticeable difference in pedal feel and stiffness. this has true on every car i've done it on, and on a sportbike, this effect is night & day. this probably isn't an issue with the 2003 car, but for all us with older ones...

any glycol-based (natural or synth glycol) brk fluid absorbs water from the air as it ages and once it does, not only does the boiling point degrade, but it becomes compressible for some reason i'm unsure of physics on. this degradation is like strutswearing out, so gradual that you don't realize it's happening until you replace it with fresh. if it's any color darker than a VERY light straw color, it's probably due. this is also good PM, as the absorbed water does not do good things for hydraulic cylinders and seals.

of course, due to the ABS , you can't do it yourself unless you have a pressure bleeeder. this is fortunate or unfortunate depending on how much you like bleeding brakes. i HATE it and so let local Firestone/Bridgestone place do it, abt $45 lasttime i checked with me suplying fluid.

for readily available/affordable fluid, i used to use Castrol LMA but switched to the Valvoline part-snyth fluid due to dry boiling point over 500 degrees. it's abt $7-8/qt and you'll need at least 2.

i'd been meaning to go do this on my 02 OBS, and this thread has pushed me to get off my butt and do it. i'llpost followup.

bw
 

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Very interesting. I never would have considered that. I would like to preform this service myself if at all possible, but why would having ABS pose a problem?? Also when you are draining the system do you have to drain the lines going to each wheel or can you drain just the front lines?
I was reading up on this service and it seems that there is something called a gravity bleed. Which is by opening the entire system and just letting gravity do the work. Does this sound plausable?
 

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Don’t get me wrong, i prefer to do work myself if possible...esp brake bleeding, where there can be a big difference in pedal feel between “good enough, and besides we’re on flat rate and make more profit if we get the job done in half the time”, and “right” or “as close to perfect as possible”....i tend to like latter. Not impugning pro mechanics, they just are working under different constraints than you are. And since brakes will work fine at “good enough” and 95% of driving public will never notice (heck, with most Americans’ braking habits, the mush functions as a valuable anti-lock mechanism...), it’s not financially feasible for the pro to get air out past this point. On a sportbike where you only have 1 master, 2 calipers, and 18" of hose between em, level feel improvement is super noticeable as you do the last bit of air. Even l;eaving em overnight once you finish and coming back to bleed out all the pinhole-size bubbles the next day produces noticeable improvement. How many pros do you see bothering with that step, or owners who would be willing to pay for it?

the gravity plan is a good one for simple systems where everything flows basically downhill, but ONLY to get initial large volumes of air out after major component removal/rebuild. Get the calipers on, then leave it overnight with top on master threaded loosely on. The next day, if you’re lucky, you’ll have enough pedal that you can commence bleeding for real. You don’t want to try to drive it this way, tho...very dangerous. It just helps get you past the frustrating period at beginning of job where you are effectively trying to force fluid through system but are just compressing the air you’re trying to get out when you depress pedal. You can avoid most of this if you be sure components are full of fluid and bled on the workbench before installing.

However, with ABS system, you have LOTS of additional lines, up and downhill pipe runs and other such which makes the gravity plan not feasible. Look under your hood at the ABS assembly (usu. on pass side, just aft of and below headlight, lots of hydraulic lines running to it) and you’ll see what i mean. Due to same factor, I’ve read (repeatedly and from reliable sources) that you can’t adequately bleed ABS system via old “long suffering spouse pumping the pedal while you lie on floor and absorb vast quantities of brake fluid through skin” plan, and i believe them from looking at system. I don’t think the vacuum bleeders like a n ezi-Bleed or Mity-Vac will work for this either....what you need is a system that injects fluid into the system from above via pressure. Special cap that replaces master cap (or you can make your own from a spare cap) and fluid is forced in, usu via air pressure acting on a large reservoir of fluid. Pro versions of this rig can run hundreds or worse, but there are starting to be some consumer-grade versions since so many cars have some sort of ABS. One uses air pressure from your spare. No experience with those but I’m probably eventually gonna get one.

Finally, the old fluid is part of the problem, so, yes, you ideally want to get it all out of the system front and rear, rather than just draining front hoses. Often easier to start adding new fluid b4 all the old is gone so you’re using fluid to push fluid...there will be some mixing but you just keep it up til what’s coming out of bleeder nipples looks like what you’re pouring in.

Hope this helps some. Sorry for being so wordy, just don’t want anyone to get killed....

bw
 

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Just finished flushing my brake fluid. Easier than i anticipated. The old brake fluid was worlds away in color. It was a dark yellow, and the new fluid was crystal clear. After i finished, which took about 1.5 quarts, I drove the car and to my dismay it feels exactly the same. Not even a hint different. I made sure that there were no air pockets in the brake system(this being the reason i used so much fluid). So i guess the next step is to replace the pads and possibly the rotors which are not looking so hot. Any other suggestions?
 

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ABS

All ABS systems I've worked on only have a photo electronic sensor (located on the backing plate) much like a crank trigger ignition. The rotor backside will have notches for the sensor to pickup. I have never seen any ABS (all makes) that have brake lines attached to them. Mind you I am a mechanic and have done more brake jobs than I can count on everything from imports/domestics.
 

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scooby--

the rotational sensors for the ABS, which is what you're describing, don't have any hyd lines. sorry, i wasn't being clear. i meant the big computer controlled valve assy which actually regulates the relative line pressures to each wheel as needed to prevent it from locking. on my car, lives just aft of R side headlight on fenderwell, sort of under the intake air ducting. this DOES have hyd lines running to it, several of which appear to follow convoluted paths that look like a bear to get air out of.

however, if both you gents have been able to successfully bleed ABS systems through the stomp method or via vacuum gun, i stand corrected. i guess i'd always read otherwise, and used this as an excuse to let somebody else mess with it. i've done hydraulics on stuff ranging from '49 MG to bimmers to chebbies to sportbikes, and hated most every minute of bleeding process on every one ...i think i'm still gonna get a pressure bleeder system :cursin:

bw
 

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Well guys, good news for us with rear drums. Goodridge just announced a SS brake line setup for some of us with rear drums. As a matter of fact, my local Subaru club is just finishing up a group buy of them. I ordered some.
I have been researching it for a while and finally found out two days ago that they are being made now. My local group is going through Primm Racing online, so you are more than welcome to check them out and/or call them to verify if fitment is for your specific car. That's good news to me, and maybe to some of you. Brian

Primm Racing
 

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problem solved!!

Well after finally not being able to put up with my crappy brakes i decided to do something about it. Although changing the brake fluid was a good idea since the old stuff was pretty ugly, it didnt help the mushy feeling.

Ive noticed at highway speeds the car would vibrate while braking. This meant either the pads were overheating the rotors because they were always in contact or the rotors were warped. In addition to this ever since I bought the car, 3 months ago, the front rotors have been pitted. I figured this was from sitting on the lot for ever and a day.

So i did some researching and decided to replace the rotors since i could get new ones for dirt cheap $41 a peice and get new ceramic pads, $40 for front set. I bought all of these peices from importrp.com. totaled $150. **** cheap!

So i installed the rotors which would have been nearly impossible if it wasnt for the genious idea of the manufacturer integrating 2 screw holes to pry the rotor off in seconds! And installed the new PBR pads.

Holy sweet mother of christ! What a difference this made!! The old pads were almost at the end of there life anyway. But this new set up feels like a sports car braking system! I couldnt be happier, especially since the whole thing cost me $150 and it took all of 45 min to install!
 

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rotors

you probably could have turned those rotors and saved a few bucks instead. Just because they look ugly doesn't mean there not turnable. Alot of folks think they can just slap on a set of pads without turning them (rotors) which maybe worn. All rotors have a minumum spec. thickness to turn them before replacment. It's a good idea to check the brakes when you rotate your tires since you have the wheels off. It's hard to see the inner pad wear with the wheels on. Glad to hear your brakes are better!:D
 

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my experience suggests that if you try to do pads and don't either turn or replace rotors, you'll only get abt 65% of the potential improved braking. the reaction of friends after we do pads and rotors is invariably like Luke's: "oh my gawd".

"This meant either the pads were overheating the rotors because they were always in contact or the rotors were warped. " if you have the first of these conditions, you'll have the 2d one shortly. indicators of a dragging brake include excessive brake dust on one wheel or wheel being hotter than the other 3. bw
 

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rotors/calipers/pads

First you have to understand all the dynamics of the braking system. As a mechanic I have seen almost every situation encountered with brakes. Calipers must be able to slide with the piston to ensure proper braking , if not excessive or uneven pad/rotor wear will occur. I would analyize all componets and see why they failed then replace as needed. New rotors and pads will not fix a sticky caliper problem. Driving conditions(hard braking ) will also affect wear therefore an upgrade of the braking system is the answer there. I suppose if you've got money to burn for parts change rotors/pads every time.:rolleyes:
 

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once again, you’re right, i was oversimplifying. The problem of calipers not being able to “float” laterally like they’re designed to will commonly cause dragging brakes, as will caliper seals that are wasted due to heat, UV/ozone, and age. Pads worn way more on one side of rotor is an indicator of this, as are bluing or cracked spots on rotors. A lot of bike guys (where we’ve been dealing with floating calipers for 25+ years, and where consequences of brake imperfections can get really ugly) take the slider pins and either replace them or burnish by chucking in drill and hitting with Scotchbrite, followed by super light film of grease, every time the pads come out.

since caliper pistons are retracted by a combination of seal elasticity and negative pressure, crud on the portion of the piston that becomes exposed as pads wear can often cause them to not retract properly. Many times, just cleaning the exposed portion of piston, and the pin(s) on which the caliper slides laterally with brass bristle brush and brake solvent before you compress them back into the caliper body so you can fit the new pads will cure non-retraction, esp since with the thicker new pads, the pistons won’t be extended into the same area as they had been. If this doesn’t fix dragging, replacing slider pins is next, followed by rebuild of calipers if new pins don’t get it. However, there’s no point in fixing the source of the caliper dragging and then reinstalling glazed pads or warped/heat cracked rotors.

FWIW, i don’t consider ANY $ i spend on my brakes to be “burned”, even if i occasionally toss some arguably usable parts. I’d much rather waste some $ than analyze “why the brakes failed” after the fact..... :eek: Spending the $ to do it right is long-term enlightened self interest. Sorta like connecting rod bolts. Brake parts are cheap, esp as compared to bodywork and/or orthopedic surgeons. I realize the Great American Public you have to deal with may see things differently and want to spend the least $ possible. The lawyers appreciate their approach to life, as it generates business. :p

bw
 

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brakes

I was beginning to wonder what your implications were about braking systems . Thanx for the clarification. I can understand the need for an upgrade. However, you didn't mention better rotors/pads?For this reason I was abit suspect since the thread started as an OBS brake upgrade.

I plan on putting some Hawk HPS pads(turned rotors) and Goodridge lines on my outback soon .:D
 
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