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Discussion Starter #1
On my wife's 03 Forester I changed the rear pads and on the driver's side the inner pad was almost gone and the rotor was very rusty. I replaced the pads and that rotor and now when driving you could hear a rubbing noise from that brake.
I now thought the caliper might be stuck, I took the caliper off and it seemed ok, but I figured since I had it off I might as well replace it. I put a rebuilt caliper on and bled it multiple times although the pedal didn't really firm up. I then bled the other rear brake and saw a couple of bubbles in the bleeder hose come out and the pedal still went to the floor. I looked on line and it said about bleeding the opposite one so I did that and it finally seemed like the pedal was firming up.

Now for the unknown part, I took the car for a short ride and it seemed like something was hanging up. I stopped and both back brakes we're Luke warm, but the driver's front was glowing red hot. Why? I didn't do anything to that brake. Hopefully someone on here can solve this for me. Thanks
 

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2003 Forester AW Manual with low ratio
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276 Posts
Normally, First thing to look at are the 2 slider pins, that bolt through the carrier into the caliper ( the little bolts top and bottom with rubber gaiters), they often seize when old, and that causes the caliper body ( the whole body, not the Pistons) to stick and then the inner pads wear constantly against the disc.
More often than not its the slider pins that seize rather than the caliper pistons. They can be cleaned up and re- lubed but new ones are cheap, and will have nice new tight fitting rubber boots to keep water out.
But that doesn't explain why it suddenly started sticking on that brake, when you didn't touch it.

(I assume your rear caliper pistons are free, since you must have pushed them back to fit new pads.)

When you bled the fluid, and you say the opposite one, I take it you meant the diagonally opposite one, I.e. Front left/ rear right and front right / rear left?
Is it possible there's still air in the system that serves the driver front/ rear opposite corner and that's affecting the driver side front brake?

Hope it's something simple sticking for you rather than a dodgy master cylinder? Which is unlikely.
 

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2001 Forester
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1,605 Posts
There is a brake proportioning valve on the Subaru. It's job is to apply the rear brakes first and only the rear brakes up to a certain threshold and then it will also apply the front brakes. You may have some issues with this valve.

Circled in yellow is the proportioning valve.

This valve is one of the reasons why the Subaru's tend to wear out the rear brakes faster than the front brakes.
 

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2003 EJ20K Forester
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326 Posts
Guaranteed it is your hill holder! The thing is a curse. Mine caused my front left and right rear to lock up. Only way to release them was cracking the brake line.

It is the little valve mounted to the frame rail with a cable leading to the pedals attached to it right below the brake booster. Take off the cable and zip tie the lever in-line with the valve body.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The car has an automatic transmission, so no hill holder. Good thought though. How do you test the proportioning valve? I'm going to start by bleeding the brakes all again in the proper order and see what happens. Hopefully I didn't ruin the pads and/or rotor on the front from getting it so hot.
 

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2001 Forester
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Testing the valve needs special hydraulic pressure gauges. But I find it odd only the driver side front was red hot. The passenger side front was OK?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I honestly didn't look at front passenger side, after I saw the driver's side I just wanted to get the car back to the garage. I used the parking brake to avoid maybe putting more pressure on the pads. I'm at work right now and will check it out when I get home this evening. Thanks
 

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2003 Forester X 5 MT
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522 Posts
There is a brake proportioning valve on the Subaru. It's job is to apply the rear brakes first and only the rear brakes up to a certain threshold and then it will also apply the front brakes. You may have some issues with this valve.

Circled in yellow is the proportioning valve.

This valve is one of the reasons why the Subaru's tend to wear out the rear brakes faster than the front brakes.
That's what that thing is! Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I finally got a the new caliper installed. Thanks to Advance Auto warranty for free replacement. However, I can't get the brake pedal to be firm. I've bled all 4 wheels, in the proper order, multiple times. I have gone through almost 32 oz of fluid doing this. My wife pumps up pressure and I then crack open the bleeder into a bottle. I do each wheel at least 3 times and have done each wheel at least 3 times and still a mushy peddle. Is there a trick I don't know about? I've worked on brakes on multiple vehicles and never had this much trouble.
 

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2016 Forester XT
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The one time I encountered this problem (on an ancient Volvo) one of the master cylinder seals was the culprit. If your master cylinder was working before (i.e., it's not suspect), you may still have air in the lines. I picked up a Motive Power Bleeder some years ago - it lets you go around and bleed the wheels in the proper order without having to have someone pump the brake pedal, and without having to stop to top up the reservoir. Makes the job easier, and was worth the investment; just make sure to get the proper adapter for your Subaru's master cylinder.

Also, I just got through replacing rear pads and rotors on the Forester - the inside left rear was worn to metal, the rest had 1/8" or so. I figure the slide pins got stuck (the piston shows no sign of corrosion, and moves ok) - so a new set of seals and a complete cleaning and re-lube was in order. The fronts are next: I'm using PowerStop drilled and slotted rotors (Z23) because I had put a set on my F-150 last year and they have been better than OE. Really well made, come with all the necessary (stainless) clips, and boots and gaskets for the slide pins, and not too difficult to install. I've read in other places that some of the brake lubes cause the rubber gaskets to swell, making the pins stick... the recommendation is to use Sil-Glyde for the slide pins - as it doesn't make the rubber swell.
 

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2003 Forester X MT
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I finally got a the new caliper installed. Thanks to Advance Auto warranty for free replacement. However, I can't get the brake pedal to be firm. I've bled all 4 wheels, in the proper order, multiple times. I have gone through almost 32 oz of fluid doing this. My wife pumps up pressure and I then crack open the bleeder into a bottle. I do each wheel at least 3 times and have done each wheel at least 3 times and still a mushy peddle. Is there a trick I don't know about? I've worked on brakes on multiple vehicles and never had this much trouble.
I have the same problem. Put a used caliper and new rubber brake line on left front, bled brakes and all worked well. Changed rear drum brakes complete with drums, shoes, hardware and wheel cylinders. Bled brakes and left front wouldn't release. Thought the used caliper had failed so I purchased a rebuilt caliper with bracket. Installed it, bled all four and still same issue. If I release pressure through bleeder valve, caliper releases. So I don't think it's the caliper or pins. Did you ever get your issue fixed?
 
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