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2002 Subaru Outback L.L. Bean Edition H6-3.0
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74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First of all, I have a 2002 Subaru Outback Wagon H6-3.0 L.L. Bean Edition.

BACKGROUND:
There was some pulsing in my brakes when slowing down between 20-0 mph, plus it was time to replace them, so I had my pads and rotors replaced in June 2016.

About a year later, this June, I noticed some shaking/pulsing when braking from 75-45 mph, and my mechanic says he can only guess it's the pads/rotors again (but doesn't know why). He says they can't find anything wrong/worn in the suspension components, and his head scratching is making me nervous. Especially if I spend $700+ to replace pads/rotors again only to have the issue remain. I trust him, he's been my mechanic for almost a decade, and he can't find anything wrong with the brake components that would cause it. He also said it wasn't an inner-tire issue.

ISSUE:
When braking from freeway speeds 75-45 mph now the steering wheel violently shakes 1-2" side to side, and I hear a knocking/clunking sound, then it fades into a silent pulsing around 45-0 mph.

Any ideas I can have my mechanic inspect closer? It's a Japanese import shop, but there is a Subaru-specific independent shop in town. They said they can probably diagnose it for ~$100, but I'm worried they're either not going to be sure, or are going to spend 2+ hours just finding out what it is.

Any insight or help would be appreciated!
 

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Silver: 2009 Subaru Outback Limited Edition, 2.5 Liter EJ25, Automatic. Gem: 2002 Subaru Outback LL Bean Edition, 3.0 liter EZ30D, Automatic
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207 Posts
Hello! Welcome, and nice car! ;)

Her sister, that I drive is having some similar issues. I'm getting the steering wheel shake when I step on the brakes, and also when I get above 60 mph. I'm currently in the process of replacing my brake calipers. I am a total beginner at wrenching my car and an experienced mechanic friend is helping me. (Currently can't afford a brake job, and also I want to know how my car works.) When we went to change brake shoes we discovered that the calipers had holes in the rubber, but were somehow still magically working. While in there I also discovered my rear upper lateral link bushings were shot, like rubber hanging out of them shot, and I've been having a lot of squeaking in the rear end, and even some clunking, grinding and banging noises that I think are attributable to them. Also, they'd totally mess with the alignment so also suspect for the shaking.

I have pictures of them here: http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums...-arm-bushings-symptoms-fix-2.html#post5018946

Anyway, I've been going to "trusted" mechanics, and a highly rated local dealership recently said they rotated my tires, but made no mention of the condition of the bushings or brakes. If you have access to a jack and some jackstands you could take off your tires and examine your car yourself. I watched a lot of videos and read threads here about suspension to get familiar with it beforehand, and it was very interesting and cost effective to take a look in there. While you're at it you can feel your bearings, axles and tie rods for looseness.
 

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Premium Member
(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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18,333 Posts
worn inner tie rods might be part of the problem but, perhaps they passed inspection. Check lugnuts too. Try swapping tires fronts to back.

pulsing and 'warped' rotor feeling is often just uneven pad deposits can often be caused by clamping the brakes onto hot rotors - like after a panic stop at a railroad xing or long light.

You could try maintaining 30-40mph while left-foot dragging the brakes for a coupla blocks - followed by NO BRAKING the next 1/2 or more miles for a cool-down( so, choose a road and time where you can do this - highway frontage road early Sunday morning or....?. If you must stop, hold the car with the parking brake) If it doesn't improve the problem, you may need rotors again. If it gets better but isn;t cured, try it again or read about 'bedding in' brake pads and try a more aggressive procedure.
 

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2001 VDC Wagon - White pearl - 302,000 km
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466 Posts
First of all, I have a 2002 Subaru Outback Wagon H6-3.0 L.L. Bean Edition.

BACKGROUND:
There was some pulsing in my brakes when slowing down between 20-0 mph, plus it was time to replace them, so I had my pads and rotors replaced in June 2016.

About a year later, this June, I noticed some shaking/pulsing when braking from 75-45 mph, and my mechanic says he can only guess it's the pads/rotors again (but doesn't know why). He says they can't find anything wrong/worn in the suspension components, and his head scratching is making me nervous. Especially if I spend $700+ to replace pads/rotors again only to have the issue remain. I trust him, he's been my mechanic for almost a decade, and he can't find anything wrong with the brake components that would cause it. He also said it wasn't an inner-tire issue.

ISSUE:
When braking from freeway speeds 75-45 mph now the steering wheel violently shakes 1-2" side to side, and I hear a knocking/clunking sound, then it fades into a silent pulsing around 45-0 mph.

Any ideas I can have my mechanic inspect closer? It's a Japanese import shop, but there is a Subaru-specific independent shop in town. They said they can probably diagnose it for ~$100, but I'm worried they're either not going to be sure, or are going to spend 2+ hours just finding out what it is.

Any insight or help would be appreciated!
Here's the thing...the long term condition of your brakes will depend on 3 things really. First, the quality of the parts that were put on, second, the level of skill and competency of the installer, and third, the driving habits of the vehicle owner. The good news is, that all of these things can be controlled by you. The highest contributing factor to pulsating brakes is brake pad resin deposits on the rotor. This occurs predominantly after braking while descending a steep hill or coming off a highway off ramp to an abrupt stop. Both of which heat the brakes up considerably. If you get stuck at a traffic light for 30 seconds after this occurrence and you have your foot on the brake the whole time, you will 'boil' some resin out of the brake pads and transfer it to the rotor at one location. The law of averages say that in multiple braking applications, you will not stop the brake pads at a different spot each time, hence, you will develop areas that will "build up" with brake pad resin. Your choices are to turn or change the rotors, or change the way you brake. In your case, I think you might have to do both. I personally have never had a pulsating brake pedal/steering wheel on any car I've owned, and here's why. When I come to a stop, after an aforementioned occurrence, I will do one of 2 things. If I am eventually going to come to a stop on an incline, I will stop 10 ft back of where you would normally stop and creep forward every second or 2. This promotes better heat dissipation and prevents heat concentrations on the rotor, because the rotor is never stopped completely. If I am eventually coming to a stop on a flat surface, I will put the shifter into neutral and take my foot off the brake, which all but eliminates the possibility of resin boiling.
 

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01 Outback LL Bean
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2,449 Posts
Something else is going on here I suspect. If the car is making knocking noises I would be very concerned. I would be looking at wheel bearings, tie rods and ball joints.
 

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Premium Member
(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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18,333 Posts
hmmm...knocking when braking, rack bushings and the bushings in the rear of the front lower control arms would be good to double check I guess. There have been some lugnut wheel issues in a coupla threads lately, never a bad idea to check anthything safety related.

you said a mechanic checked around but, maybe start a new thread asking for a shop recommendation near your city - someone may know a good soob-friendly mechanic that can offer a second opinion.
 

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Meh.
I has wagons.
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12,345 Posts
A knocking under braking makes me think balljoint or tierod wearing out.

Also likely warped rotors/uneven pad deposits.
 

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2002 Subaru Outback L.L. Bean Edition H6-3.0
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74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well next week I'm bringing it in to A&A The Shop here in Anchorage, AK to get looked at. They're an independant Subaru shop that seems to know their stuff. I'll post what it ended up being. Thanks everyone!
 

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Premium Member
(formerly) 03 H6 OBW , (presently) 06 WRX Sportwagon & 2021 Honda CR-V
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18,333 Posts
rk - did you get a diagnosis?
 

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2002 Subaru Outback L.L. Bean Edition H6-3.0
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74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Solved!

So I finally brought it in to A&A the Shop here in Anchorage, AK and they said I had a sticking caliper and recommended replacing the front calipers and all rotors and pads. That fixed it! No more shaking, shuddering, or banging when braking from highway speeds.

So it cost me $1000 to diagnose and fix, but they have a 3-year/36,000 mile warranty on all parts and labor, so I feel confident the symptoms won't return in a year.

Now I need new winter tires because they notified me I have a broken belt in one of my tires (sigh):1zhelp::knifehead
 

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01 outback-5sp-UEL-wrx wheels
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76 Posts
So I finally brought it in to A&A the Shop here in Anchorage, AK and they said I had a sticking caliper and recommended replacing the front calipers and all rotors and pads. That fixed it! No more shaking, shuddering, or banging when braking from highway speeds.

So it cost me $1000 to diagnose and fix, but they have a 3-year/36,000 mile warranty on all parts and labor, so I feel confident the symptoms won't return in a year.

Now I need new winter tires because they notified me I have a broken belt in one of my tires (sigh):1zhelp::knifehead

i was just about to suggest checking the guide pins on the calipers haha. maybe think about getting the tie rods, ball joints, end links, and transverse (rear LCA bushings) replaced soon. my tie rods were shot and caused vibration and shaking, replaced and still had knocking, it was my passenger transverse bushing, so i did those. now i still have some knocking and it should be my sway bar end links that i have, just need to change em out.
 

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2004 Outback 2.5
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9 Posts
I as well was going to suggest the caliper slide pins, and caliper mounting brackets. I just recently had to do my passenger side pins and brackets on my 04, as well as my sister?s 07. Do Subarus have a history of the pins going bad? Or was it just coincidental bad luck? Haha

Anyways, replacing both the pins and brackets fixed my horrendous steering wheel shimmy when braking from freeway speeds to about 40mph. Easy, cheap (less than $150 for both cars together), and fixed the problem!
 
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