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2003 Forester
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The hill holder on our 5-speed 2003 started giving us problems last year, but only under certain conditions. If we had more weight in the car other than my wife & I (neither one of us are big/heavy/tall), and we were on an uphill incline, then the hill holder would engage but not release, despite letting off the brake and pumping the clutch pedal while in neutral. It eventually released after a good while and many pumps of the clutch.

As time passed, the circumstances changed. It began to happen with only one of us in the car, as well as on flat ground. This happened a few times when starting to go after a red light.

We took it to a local mechanic who specializes in Subarus, with a great business reputation. He could not repeat the problem but examined the system and said everything was in working order. He flushed out the brake fluid and lines, in case some dirt or something was interfering with the ball valve.

A few weeks later it happened again. This time (and every time since then) it happened with only the driver, on flat ground, but after the car had been driven for more than 50 miles or ~30 minutes. It has not happened when the car is cold. The car was in the getting a new clutch, so the mech said he adjusted the hill holder down a few turns. This does not seem to have helped, as it happened yesterday to my wife while she was looking for a spot in a parking garage.

I read Matt101604 and BBottomley's posts about their hill holder problems, and am inclined to use Bob's solution and disable it, but if it can be fixed without being replaced, then I want to try. If a fix does not help then i will disable it.

Has anyone else had this happen after the car is hot (normal driving temp)? I need to fix this - it is her car and she is losing patience with it. Any suggestions would be helpful. I am re-reading all the posts I can find on hill holder trouble, hoping that I may have overlooked a solution that worked for someone else.

Semper Fi,

Paul
 

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2003 Forester
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20 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Update - Hill holder disabled

After my last post I backed the adjuster nut almost all the way out while still keeping the hill holder connected to the clutch cable, in the hopes of it staying open. It did not. It got stuck a few more times, all on level ground after the car was at normal operating temp. The last time it stuck on my wife was while I was out of town. She called me, very upset, and said fix it or find someone who can. So I went to it this weekend.

The one thing I did not check earlier (which I should have) was the movement of the actuator arm on the hill holder valve. The spring was still there, connected as it was supposed to be, yet it was not pulling the arm back to its normal position. After inspecting the pads and cylinders in the calipers, regreasing the pins and checking for proper movement, the hill holder got stuck and locked the brakes on me. I left it in neutral and manually turned the arm on the hill holder until the brakes released. It was very tight and difficult to move, too tight for the spring to pull it back normally.

Borrowing bbottomley's solution, I turned the arm as far as it would go in the open (hill holder not holding) position, removed the lock nut and clutch cable, and zip-tied the arm in place. I made a few test runs up and down our driveway, both forward and backwards, and the hill holder did not engage and lock the brakes at all.

I hope this finally solves the problem. I will post another update if it does not.
 

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Good news. Thanks for getting back to us on this.

Very tight and difficult to move - strange. Did you get any impression of what might be causing this?

- Bruce
 

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2003 Forester
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
When trying to turn the arm on the hill holder, it was very tight. It felt like something binding up on the inside of the mechanism. The spring is still in good shape, but not even close to being able to pull the arm back.
I assume that dirt & debris is blocking or stopping both the arm and ball inside from moving freely.
 

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That would mean dirt & debris inside the brake system, which is kind of scary in its own right. No evidence of physical damage or corrosion on the outside?
 

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2000 Forester manual
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1 Posts
Hi,

Same problem 2 years later. It happens exactly the same to my 2000 Forester. First once in a while with easy release; just releasing the cluch and pressing teh brake pedal. But then i got stock few times, disconnect it, tried to fix it. I had it completely check and cleaned by my mechanics. But after 2 weeks of perfect functionning i got stuck again!

Main difference is that i can simply release it by a very easy one finger push.... I am wondering if it could the cable that lack lubrification or the spring that miss power.... Now that i started to spend money in fixing it, i would be please to have it workiing properly!

Any advise suggestion welcome. thanks
Xavier
 

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04 Forester XT
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3 Posts
Hi,

Sorry to bump an old thread but just wanted to say the same thing happened here. Car would get stuck after a longer drive. Wouldn't release. It happened to my girlfriend and a police car had to push it out of the road. The clue was the left front wheel was hot! And the cop said one of the rears was locked.

Took some troubleshooting and research to find that many other owners were having trouble with hill hold. Not sure if there was a service bulletin by Subaru or a recommended fix. We disconnected the cable and will keep an eye on it.
 

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1997 forester manual
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230 Posts
The problem is quite common.

It often comes from the clutch master piston joint sticking to the cylinder.

Behind the pedals, take off the rubber protection, insert the silicone spray straw in the small hole and make a few sprays while pedal is pushed to the floor.
Then push and release a few times and it should work for a long time...
 

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2006 Forester
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9 Posts
Hill holder not releasing

Same problem on my 2006 Forester. The hill holder valve is so stiff the spring could not pull it back into position. My new one is much smoother. I have not installed it yet though.
 

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Hate to light this one back up, but I'm in this boat too. My son has an 03 Forester. He called me last week to tell me that his car wouldn't move. I grabbed the trailer and headed his way thinking he smoked the clutch. When I got there, I realized the brakes were stuck. Drug it on the trailer, took it home. Found the left front and right rear were the ones sticking. Replaced a wheel cylinder in the rear and caliper and hose in front, no difference. Replaced the Master Cylinder, no Difference. It will randomly lock, but pumping the pedal releases pressure. I am at my wit's end, but reading about this hill holder has me curious. I can see where the previous owner disconnected and zip tied it, but I suspect it still my problem. Any help or direction would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 

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There's no problem with opening up an old thread with relevant information or questions. We encourage it! It keeps related information together, for the good of all.

Hill Holders act on diagonally opposite wheels, but I can't recall which pair. Have you inspected the spring and the position of the lever?
 

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Well, I found that the nut that holds the cam on the mechanism was gone. I cut the Previous owner's zip ties, spun the mechanism shaft a few times, put the cam back on, and found a nut that sorta fit. I zip tied the cam in place and went for a 5 mile drive. All good, until I parked in the drive, sticking. If I pump the brake pedal, it releases. Not sure if I still have air in the system or what.

Also, I can't find a spring. And for the record, on mine it's the left front and right rear.
 

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Update, I believe I have it fixed now! I had the cam in the wrong position. With the Spring and nut missing, It was just hanging, so I had trouble with orientation. I looked at photos of how other owners disabled it and changed my positioning. I took it for a test drive, and all is well. Parked and stopped on several hills, including my drive, so far so good. Just so you all know, this thread helped me immensely. The first big clue was hearing that the hill holder applies to opposite corners, that made me realize It was the source of my problem. Thanks for the feedback and I hope this helps someone else.
 
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