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2004 XT
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16 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello!

I was driving my wife's 04 Forester XT (our first was an 02 SOHC that my daughter now drives). Slow traffic. The cautious Nissan Pathfinder driver in front of me suddenly slammed on her brake when the light turned yellow at an intersection know to have a red light camera. I stepped hard on the brake pedal but the car kept going, veering to the left. Our left front made contact with the the Nissan's rear right. Since there are no bumper height standards in effect, the higher Nissan's truck bumper over-rode ours smashing, headlight, fender, hood and and about 6" worth of engine parts. Total reapair costs $5500.

When I drove the car back from the shop, I noticed some brake chatter coming from the left front. I removed the brakes. Here is what I found: the left front outer pad was worn to bare metal and the rotor was being gouged. The inner pad was locked with about 3/16" of pad material left. Same on both pads on the right side.

The cause of the lock-up was rust that had accumulated on the brake carrier under the gliding metal insert. Judging from the amount of material left on the locked pads and their imprint on the rotor, the rusting must have occurred some time ago.

The brakes were replaced at 29K by the selling dealer under warrantee (continuous brake chudder) and inspected and brake fluid replaced as part of 36K major service. The accident occurred at 55K.

I blanch at the thought of what would have happened if we had to stop at highway speeds to avoid a collision. Death or serious injury.

I reported the matter to Subaru Customer Service. A month later, I got a call from a woman who stated that Subaru had no responsibility. I offered to send the defective parts for examination and she stated that Subaru had no investigative facilities.

I also made a report to the NHTSA.

I suspect that the metal of the Subaru's brake carrier is more susceptible to rust than those of some other brands. I immediately checked the brakes on my daughter's 95 Acura Integra SE and there was light rusting on the outside, none on the inside. Same on my 94 Lexus SC300.

I will now check brakes routinely at about 10K on this car, while we still have it with the thought of replacing it ASAP with a more reliable brand.

The pictures are self-explanatory.

Nick
 

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Ah crap.. I'm back with my 05 XS
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8,294 Posts
Hmm... 70k miles later, my brackets look nothing like that. Then again, I don't drive on salty winter roads anymore and I clean those areas with brake cleaner every 15k miles or so and reapply grease where necessary.
 

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1998 Forester
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213 Posts
You should have your brakes checked once a year or 15 thousand miles which ever comes first. Also the caliper pins and slides should be cleaned and lubed. Brake fluid should be flushed every 3 years.
 

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05 Forester XT
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541 Posts
...I stepped hard on the brake pedal but the car kept going, veering to the left. Our left front made contact with the the Nissan's rear right.
Maybe I'm not visualizing this correctly, but if the car veered to the left, shouldn't your front right collide with their rear left instead?
What's the deal with that pad in your right most picture. Did it get ripped off of backing plate or did your wife drives for miles with a pad worn down to nothing? Not trying to stereotype but I know my wife would drive her car like that :icon_rolleyes:
 

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2011 Forester Limited
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91 Posts
Did the dealer replace the calipers with cheapos that rust easily and seize up the slide pins?

allwheeldriveauto.com/subaru-repair-seattle-brake-caliper-woes/
 

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1998 Forester
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213 Posts
Not trying to hijack the thread, but how do you lubricate the caliper pins and slides ? From what I seen they are encapsulated in rubber housings.
You pull the pin out and the rubber seal clean everything and put it back together with fresh grease.
 

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775 Posts
Brake Failure? Your parts don't look defective, they look damaged from lack of maintenance. I'm wondering why you didn't feel and hear something wrong with your brakes before the accident. Glad you weren't injured. Your post is a good warning to car owners that regular maintenance and inspections are really important.

Guy
 

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2010 Forester
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5 Posts
First off, I am glad you are ok and only metal was damaged in this incident. I have been told on numerous occasions when I have disputed a parts viability with the dealer, that when these are "inspected" for a warranty bill-out to/by Subaru, that the parts will be deemed in working order (and the dealership will eat the bill). I assume these parts are assessed by some kind of "inspector" at Subaru. Hmmmmmm.
 

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2004 XT
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16 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
First off, I am glad you are ok and only metal was damaged in this incident. I have been told on numerous occasions when I have disputed a parts viability with the dealer, that when these are "inspected" for a warranty bill-out to/by Subaru, that the parts will be deemed in working order (and the dealership will eat the bill). I assume these parts are assessed by some kind of "inspector" at Subaru. Hmmmmmm.
Thanks for the post. Well, I have not gotten as far as you have. When I wrote to Subaru Customer Service and reported the problem and my findings, nothing happened until about three weeks later when a woman called me. She descended on me like a banshee. Her theme was that Subaru is not responsible . She advised me that Subaru does not investigate alleged failures. She said it was the job of the insurance company. The adjuster actually noticed the brake and alert the shop but since it was not due to the accident so I was not compensated. (It CAUSED the accident.) I told her that I had the car serviced with the selling Subaru dealer as specified in the maintenance schedule. (Nowhere does it say that I must remove the brakes at 15K intervals and grease all parts as was suggested in one of the replies.) She said that it could not be verified because Subaru only retains information for the duration of the warranty period. I offered to fax her the invoices but she declined as not relevant! I reminded her that during the warranty period my brakes exhibited chudder and the dealer, each of the four times I brought the car in, stated that no symptoms were noted. So I wrote to Subaru and stated that under NY State Lemon Law I was going file a claim. All of the sudden, the dealer called me for an appointment and replaced the rotors, pads, and fluid. No problem until this incident. The dealer had service the car twice during the interval, major and minor ones as specified in the manual. Moreover, I later found out during a search of the internet, from a Russian site, no less, that Subaru had issued a service bulletin to its dealers stating that warranty brake repairs will only be compensated if the dealer uses special lathe to turn the rotors installed on the car. I guess some dealers were reluctant to shell out the money for this tool and preferred the sunshine treatment. The conversation then ended.

I agree with the suggestion that the car needs preventive maintenance at 15K intervals. It is definitely indicated. No other car I have owned for the past 60 years ever required such care.

I have just replaced the front brakes and followed the precepts laid out by a group of racing people (stoptech.com). My rotors now have a nice deep blue hue, like my BMW motorcycle, and no more brake chudder for the first time.

I will also look into the possibility of securing a brake carrier made of higher grade metal and replacing the stock ones.

Sorry for being so long-winded by I am really exercised about this matter.
 

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2004 XT
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16 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Maybe I'm not visualizing this correctly, but if the car veered to the left, shouldn't your front right collide with their rear left instead?
What's the deal with that pad in your right most picture. Did it get ripped off of backing plate or did your wife drives for miles with a pad worn down to nothing? Not trying to stereotype but I know my wife would drive her car like that :icon_rolleyes:
You are absolutely correct and eagle-eyed. My right front hit the rear left of the car in front of me. Sorry for the mistake. Old age is setting in. The pad that is worn to bare metal is the left front outer pad. There was no indication of any untoward ware prior to the accident. My wife drives the car and she should participate in those high mileage contest where the drivers put an egg under the accelerator. She hardly ever uses the brakes and coasts to a gentle stop. In retrospect, she was braking with the rear pads all working OK and little wear on them, and the left front out pad that was the only one working. The other three were frozen solid in place by the rust on the carrier. I had to drive them out with a hammer on the bench. You may be right that my desperate hard braking or the impact might have ripped off the remaining pad because immediately after I noticed the squeal, not before. Interestingly, the piece of metal that is riveted on the pad to cause a squeal when the pad is worn beyond limit was bent backward and did not do its job. The other three pads were frozen. You can even see the imprint left over time on the right rotor. Thanks.
 

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06 XTen
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71 Posts
I have read about "brake chudder" on another thread recently, as mine started to do it occasionally. I've now had the front pads replaced with some redstuff, excellent mod.
 

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2004 Forester 4EAT
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5,462 Posts
For whatever reason, it looks like a lack of maintenance to me. It sounds as if your car has been to at least one shop, so I will not cast blame on you. I personally pull my pads out and lube the necessary things way more often than I need to, but I like working on cars. That being said, this looks like a pad wore out quickly due to it dragging on the rotor. That is not a fault of Subaru. If you drive through salt and do not routinely clean these parts off, they will fail. Is it also possible that your wife rides with her foot resting on the brake pedal? The picture of the pads clearly shows it has been driven like that. I doubt your pad broke off in the accident. I have witnessed numerous cars with brakes that looks like yours and been told many times they heard no noise, so I would believe your wife on that note. However, a quick brake inspection during a tire rotation would heve cought this before now. I do all my own work, but I do recomend that people take advantage of these free services most garages offer. These are my observations from what I see in your OP.

Now for conjecture: (So take it with a grain of salt)

1) When your brakes were replace under warranty, the tech bent your squealers out of the way to either make sure you had no more noise to complain about or to buy you a little more time with these brake pads.
2) Either due to rust, lack of lubrication of moving parts, or because of a driver who rides with their foot on the brake, your pads wore out prematurely.
3) A lack of inspections is why the problem went unnoticed
4) You suffered the illeffects of the first 3.

I will end with I'm glad you are okay. DIY car maintenance can be rewarding, but it comes with a lot of responsibility. Be careful out there.
 

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Its the design of the stupid clips in the brake brackets that the pads ride in. You have to clean the goop out of them regularly and regrease the edge of the pad that rides in it (also be careful not to bend them too much). Also should clean and regrease the slide pins (otherwise you'll start getting uneven pad wear on the calipers). I do it at least once a year, usually before and after the winter as so much road gunk gets built up there. It looks like the shop that did the previous brake work just swapped parts and didn't clean or lube properly. This is also one of the reasons that older low mileage cars can have issues, sitting around everything can rust into place much more easily than if they're getting moved regularly.

I like to clean and replace brake parts regularly rather than waiting a certain mileage, and I do it myself as no shop is going to be as thorough as I will on my own car (also shops charge a ridiculous amount for relatively easy brake work).
 

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2011 Forester X AT
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You pull the pin out and the rubber seal clean everything and put it back together with fresh grease.
Not just any grease! Using everyday grease will swell the pin boots, causing leakage, and then the pins freeze. Typically slide pin grease is silicone based and you have to seek it out.
 

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2005 2.5X
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241 Posts
Hello!

I was driving my wife's 04 Forester XT (our first was an 02 SOHC that my daughter now drives). Slow traffic. The cautious Nissan Pathfinder driver in front of me suddenly slammed on her brake when the light turned yellow at an intersection know to have a red light camera. I stepped hard on the brake pedal but the car kept going, veering to the left. Our left front made contact with the the Nissan's rear right. Since there are no bumper height standards in effect, the higher Nissan's truck bumper over-rode ours smashing, headlight, fender, hood and and about 6" worth of engine parts. Total reapair costs $5500.

When I drove the car back from the shop, I noticed some brake chatter coming from the left front. I removed the brakes. Here is what I found: the left front outer pad was worn to bare metal and the rotor was being gouged. The inner pad was locked with about 3/16" of pad material left. Same on both pads on the right side.

The cause of the lock-up was rust that had accumulated on the brake carrier under the gliding metal insert. Judging from the amount of material left on the locked pads and their imprint on the rotor, the rusting must have occurred some time ago.

The brakes were replaced at 29K by the selling dealer under warrantee (continuous brake chudder) and inspected and brake fluid replaced as part of 36K major service. The accident occurred at 55K.

I blanch at the thought of what would have happened if we had to stop at highway speeds to avoid a collision. Death or serious injury.

I reported the matter to Subaru Customer Service. A month later, I got a call from a woman who stated that Subaru had no responsibility. I offered to send the defective parts for examination and she stated that Subaru had no investigative facilities.

I also made a report to the NHTSA.

I suspect that the metal of the Subaru's brake carrier is more susceptible to rust than those of some other brands. I immediately checked the brakes on my daughter's 95 Acura Integra SE and there was light rusting on the outside, none on the inside. Same on my 94 Lexus SC300.

I will now check brakes routinely at about 10K on this car, while we still have it with the thought of replacing it ASAP with a more reliable brand.

The pictures are self-explanatory.

Nick
That's crazy rusty. Not normal in my opinion, much worse than I'd expect to see here in upper NY.

Dave
 
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