Brakes Lock Up Randomly... - Subaru Forester Owners Forum
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-01-2010, 08:57 AM Thread Starter
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Location: Albuquerque, NM
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Car Year: 2003
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Brakes Lock Up Randomly...

Greetings,

I purchased a used 2003 Subaru Forester about 5 months ago from a used car dealership and have started experiencing problems with the brakes. The first time happened about a month ago or so. I was driving around, came to a stop at a stop light, when it turned green, I tried to go, but my car would not move. The wheels were completely locked up, couldn't go forward or reverse. I wasn't being hard on the brakes or anything. At first I thought the transmission may have gone out, but after taking it back to the dealership, they informed me that it was the calipers (or something to that effect) on the front brakes. They informed me that they replaced some parts on the front brakes and that if it locked up again, to just "grind" them a bit (not sure what they were talking about). Anyway, long story short, it has happened several times since the repairs.

One thing to note is that I live in New Mexico and it gets quite hot down here and the days that it has locked up have been pretty hot days. My assumption is that the brake pads are possibly swelling up and locking the rotar into place. I'm not really sure on this though and was wondering if this has happened to anyone else with a Forester or if I just got a lemon from the dealership and their brake job fix was crap.

If anyone has any suggestions on what to do, I would be greatly appreciative.

Thanks,
Jeremy
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-01-2010, 09:53 AM
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Haven't had it happen on any of my Foresters, but on a past car I had the bushings inside the caliper get worn, preventing the caliper from "floating" and brakes from releasing completely. New bushings along with high-temp silicone grease inside fixed it. My problem with that Toytoa was much more pronounced with mountainous driving versus on flat ground. It is possible that the calipers could have some wear or corrosion contributing as well although not that likely.

Do you have a 5 spd MT with the hill holder active? Maybe could be related to misadjustment of this? I have noticed mine on a few occasions being "sticky" (usually backing out of a fairly level parking space) but never enough for me to adjust yet.

'04 Forester X 5spd MT
Past Green, Red '00 L 5spd
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-01-2010, 12:47 PM
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Its most likely that the slide pins are seizing up in the caliper. They should be cleaned and lubed regularly, along with the edges of the pad that slide in the caliper and the caliper clips. If theres too much gunk in the caliper clips (where the edges of the pad slide), the pads can get stuck.

I'd probably bring it to a good independent mechanic to take a look at them.

04xt/4eat, 16g, STI bits and bobs
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-01-2010, 03:51 PM
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-02-2010, 08:00 AM
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I would suspect the master cylinder. When you release the brake peddle, fluid pressure is released as are the brakes. If pressure is not released then obviously the brakes will stay on. Dirt in or otherwise restricted relief port will cause this. Have heard of this a couple of times and after replacing obvious stuff the brakes worked fine after master cylinder cleaned up.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-17-2013, 06:02 PM
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Same Problem

I know this is a long shot on an old thread, but I have the exact same problem with exact same car. Brake place just wants to replace nearly everything, and I am suspicious this is not necessary (or at least that the ABS system doesn't need replacing).

m_c_zero, if you happen to see this, what did the problem end up being and what was needed to fix?

Or anyone else that knows, more information would be very welcome..
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-16-2014, 11:58 AM
 
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My son's 03 Forester locked in place on a slight incline on a busy Main Street in the cool evening air. Tow driver had never seen such a thing. Honestly, this sturdy car became a heavy rock very quickly. Dealer is saying the hill assist needs replacing as well as basically the WHOLE brake system and clutch. The clutch might just be due since we are at 188,000 miles but still current estimate is $2,800! We had gone to the dealer 3 months earlier complaining about a similar incident and they couldn't find the problem. Huh?! Now I am scratching my head at the extended cost of this.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-16-2014, 01:02 PM
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I totally agree with williebat on this: master cylinder, particularly on a used car that might not have had regular brake fluid service. I would flush and replace the fluid before doing anything else- occasionally this can help. If not a rebuilt master cylinder with careful bleeding of system. Stuck caliper pins don't present this way.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-16-2014, 01:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by icanwingit View Post
My son's 03 Forester locked in place on a slight incline on a busy Main Street in the cool evening air. Tow driver had never seen such a thing. Honestly, this sturdy car became a heavy rock very quickly. Dealer is saying the hill assist needs replacing as well as basically the WHOLE brake system and clutch. The clutch might just be due since we are at 188,000 miles but still current estimate is $2,800! We had gone to the dealer 3 months earlier complaining about a similar incident and they couldn't find the problem. Huh?! Now I am scratching my head at the extended cost of this.
The hill holder can be removed from the system and bypassed. There are a couple of threads here and some info that can be found on other sites via google on ways to do it.

His - 08 X Prem 5mt
Hers - 08 X 4EAT
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-16-2014, 02:44 PM
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This does sound very much like the hill holder. The major culprit we've seen here is a broken return spring. Disabling the hill holder is a simple, no cost job (unless something big has failed inside). See this pic and accompanying text. The spring isn't available separately, but an equivalent one ought to work. I never moved beyond disabling it, but I still would like do do that some day.

Brakes frozen on!

2003 XS Premium MT >200k miles! ● 2005 Impreza 2.5 RS MT ● Robin-Subaru Powered Generator
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