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Abnormal brake wear? What is normal?


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9 replies to this topic

#1 HB_Dad

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Posted 28 February 2004 - 04:10 AM

I've mentioned this before, but my 2003 LL Bean Outback seems to grind brakes like a banshee. I have had the car for a little over 15 months now, and have 41,000 miles and have been informed my front brakes AGAIN have worn down to 20% even though I just had ALL FOUR replaced between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is now my FOURTH brake replacement on this car.

After speaking with the dealership, they tell me the following (see my answers after the quotes):

1) "It's the way you're driving." I drive this car no differently than I did either of my 2 previous Outbacks.

2) "Your foot may be depressing the brake rump roast you press the gas." For laughs, I stayed EXTRA aware of this being a possibility and made sure that the brake was in NO WAY being touched when depressing the gas. i kept my foot on the far right side of the gas.

3) "Its common when you put on the mileage you do." BULL****! My two previous Outbacks accrued the same mileage in the same amount of time. My commutes haven't hanged at all.

4) This Outback is heavier because it's a six-cylinder". The total curb weight difference is only 285 pounds, which is not much (good technical design on Subaru's end though), so the differences should be negligable.

Anyway, I was wondering what you LL Bean owners out there have experienced with your brake life. Am I driving a lemon? Unfortunatly, the extened warranty i bought seems to be worth aout as much as a squirt of piss since it doesn't cover brake wear (even abnormal)! HELP!!!

#2 SevenSisters

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Posted 28 February 2004 - 10:37 AM

If I read this correctly, you went through a set of pads in less than three months or 4,500 miles.
No, I would not call this normal.
Do you have a teenager that just turned 16?
If not, something’s got to be dragging or the dealer forgot he just changed them a few months ago.
Did you look at the pads? Check the rotor finish also.
You may want to drive a while without using or needing to apply the brakes and check the wheel and hub for high heat. If they are hot, it may indicate that the brakes are constantly at least partialy applied.

#3 tcspeer

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Posted 29 February 2004 - 12:38 AM

If all four brakes are wearing down at the same time I think you might want to have the master cylinder looked at. it may not be releasing the pressure properly.

#4 ski_no_idaho

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Posted 04 March 2004 - 03:27 PM

I also have a 2001 LL Bean that I can't keep front brakes on - I am having it torn down next week (5th set of pads, 3rd time for rotars) by a new shop (at least new to my Subaru, we have used before for big repairs on our other vehicles with great results) since my Subaru dealer and tire/brake shop have given me no answers except to question my driving and road conditions.

Yes I'm a girl and I drive like a mad woman but my 94 and 97 Sub wagons held up just fine - for over 60k miles with no brake work necessary. Plus, I'm not the only one driving in the de-icer they plaster our roads with (mag chloride) but I'm still the 'only one they've seen with this chronic of a brake problem'.

After talking today to the owner of the shop that will have my car next week, he says there has to be a source of pressure causing the problem - whether it is a kinked brake line (he's only seen that once before), bad valve (not sure where, I am a girl after all), bad master cylinder or even possible problems with the rear brakes not working properly causing the fronts to do all the braking and wear fast. Since I haven't had problems with the back brakes and I've had all new calipers installed by my dealer on the front, he doesn't think the calipers are the culprit, however he'll be looking at them also. He will replace the pads with a premium pad - not Subaru OEM.

I think Subaru dances around this issue quite well, my Subaru dealer was told (besides my driving skill and road conditions) that there are parts of the brake system on my 2001 6 cyl that were only used for that one year - they were changed on the 2002's. That wouldn't explain why your 2003 is having the same problem.

If there is any silver bullet discovered next week, I will post again - please let me know if you have had any luck with yours as well. I plan on getting the 2005 Outback as soon as I can order it - but if I go through brakes within the first 36k miles you can bet I'm rolling it for a Volvo XC90.

#5 hawksoob

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Posted 04 March 2004 - 03:37 PM

FWIW:

I've had my car 2.5 years, roughly 33,000 miles. No telling when brakes had been put on before I bought it. According to my mech, the pads are more than 50% of new.

#6 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 04 March 2004 - 04:08 PM

I know hbdad has been chasing this problem for a long time. I think it may be time for some creative person to find a way to measure his 'residual' brake line pressure against a normal vehicle - sorta like a leak down test but in this one we hope for a low number in a short time.

#7 cookie

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Posted 04 March 2004 - 06:14 PM

residual pressure and dragging.
Jack the car up and rotate the wheel, if it is free it ain't dragging.
If it is dragging pop the bleeder. the should be zero pressure with no brake application.
If you have residual pressure it can act like you are applying the brake and squirt fluid out. Be sure to be ready to close the bleeder quickly so you don't have to rebleed.
I suspect you just have too small a brake for the size of the car.
If it was mine I would look for an after market up grade.
If my personal Forester eats another set of rears in one more year it gets rear discs.

#8 martintg

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Posted 11 October 2004 - 02:24 PM

My wife and I bought a 2003 Subaru Outback L.L. Bean edition in February 2003. She had to have the brakes replaced at 17,000 mi, again last June 2004 (with new rotors) and now again at 47,000 mi. I too called the service manager at out Dealer and was told that she didn't think it was unusual for a car to wear out its brakes every 15,000 mi or so. She claimed it was due to the hills in Seattle, which I think are mild compared to other cities that I have lived in.
When the car is serviced this weekend, I will give them one more attempt to find and fix the problem. If they can not find the problem, I plan to "Write to the manufacturer requesting the repurchase or replacement of your vehicle.", as explained in the WA State website on the Lemon Law in WA. http://www.atg.wa.go.../whattodo.shtml
Has anyone else tried to have their Subaru declared a "lemon" based upon the highly excessive brake wear?
Thanks

#9 JT95

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Posted 11 October 2004 - 03:21 PM

Has anyone written Subaru about the issue? If not, that would be a good step. When you write them, be sure to explain that this is an issue that has been thrown around this message board (and possibly others). If whoever ends up dealing with the letter realizes that you have an active voice among a large group of Subaru owners/car enthusiasts and that this is something being publically discussed, then he/she is more apt to respond positively and not some blowoff reply. If anything else, post your own "Subaru Lemon" web page that highlights the problem and Subaru's lack of care in resolving the issue for its customers--that gets some positive attention sometimes.

#10 badbrake

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Posted 15 March 2005 - 09:12 PM

Has anyone written Subaru about the issue? If not, that would be a good step. When you write them, be sure to explain that this is an issue that has been thrown around this message board (and possibly others). If whoever ends up dealing with the letter realizes that you have an active voice among a large group of Subaru owners/car enthusiasts and that this is something being publically discussed, then he/she is more apt to respond positively and not some blowoff reply. If anything else, post your own "Subaru Lemon" web page that highlights the problem and Subaru's lack of care in resolving the issue for its customers--that gets some positive attention sometimes.


Subaru knoiws about the problem! They issued a service bulletin on 01/15/04 Number 06-33-04 with a long list of models of '01 to '03 cars with the problem. I quote "The purpose of this bulliten is to address unevenly or prematurely worn brake pads. There is the possibility that the pads are too tight in the caliperand have insufficient clearance as a result of rust buildup and dirt. If that is the case, the backplate of the disc brake pads will need to be slightly filed no more than 0.1mm (0.0039") on each end to remove the rust." The service is covered under warranty, (the lower gas mileage isn't) but the fix doesn't last long if you are driving on dirt roads or on salted or sanded roads. I had an '01 Outback which needed front and rear pads every 20,000 miles. You could both smell and feel the drag when the brakes were sticking. I traded it in for a 2005. With 3500 miles on it I'm having the same problem - burning brake smell, drag, and decreased mileage.




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