Jump to content


Welcome to Ultimate Subaru Message Board, my lurker friend!

Welcome to Ultimate Subaru Message Board, an unparalleled Subaru community full of the greatest Subaru gurus and modders on the planet! We offer technical information and discussion about all things Subaru, the best and most popular all wheel drive vehicles ever created.

We offer all this information for free to everyone, even lurkers like you! All we ask in return is that you sign up and give back some of what you get out - without our awesome registered users none of this would be possible! Plus, you get way more great stuff as a member! Lurk to lose, participate to WIN*!
  • Say hello and join the conversation
  • Subscribe to topics and forums to get automatic updates
  • Get your own profile and make new friends
  • Classifieds with all sorts of Subaru goodies
  • Photo hosting in our gallery
  • Meet other cool people with cool cars
Seriously, what are you waiting for? Make your life more fulfilling and join today! You and your Subaru won't regret it, we guarantee** it.

* The joy of participation and being generally awesome constitutes winning
** Not an actual guarantee, but seriously, you probably won't regret it!

Serving the Subaru Community since May 18th, 1998!

Guest Message by DevFuse
 

Photo
- - - - -

Front brake calipers


  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 Tommymc

Tommymc

    USMB Regular

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 53 posts
  • Central VT

Posted 04 July 2009 - 07:23 AM

Continuing on the list of repairs needed to my 96 Legacy wgn. (see olipan thread)
My daughter drives this car and recently mentioned that the brake warning light came on. Sure enough, it was almost out of fluid and the brake pedal was very low. I topped off the fluid and also replaced worn front pads and rotors. The brake pedal is still almost to the floor. It is solid when it grabs and you can't pump it up like if there was air in the line.I took the car in to be checked out since there are other issues like a cv joint.

The garage is sure the problem is bad calipers. Does this sound consistent with the low fluid? I can't find any leaks. They want $640 to replace the calipers ("we use only the best parts...") I'm thinking that when I changed the rotors, I was just one rusted hose fitting away from replacing the caliper. Is there anything special about bleeding these that I haven't encountered with replacing wheel cylinders and lines on other cars?

Should I trust the garages diagnosis and replace the calipers myself? These guys have a good reputation, I just want to cover all bases before jumping into this. I have a gut feeling I'll be replacing rusted lines as well. Winter salt hasn't been kind to the wheel wells.

#2 Rooster2

Rooster2

    Subaru Master

  • Members
  • 3,591 posts
  • Indianapolis

Posted 04 July 2009 - 09:07 AM

First thing I would do, is "bleed out" the brakes at all four wheels. It is still possible that air was pulled in the system, when the fluid level was low. If that doesn't solve the low pedal problem, then I would suspect a bad master cylinder. I don't think that front brake calipers can cause a low pedal problem.

#3 86subaru

86subaru

    Elite Master of the Subaru

  • Members
  • 3,094 posts
  • ohio

Posted 04 July 2009 - 09:21 AM

as far as parts, i have used advanced auto calipers ,

#4 Tommymc

Tommymc

    USMB Regular

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 53 posts
  • Central VT

Posted 04 July 2009 - 09:44 AM

First thing I would do, is "bleed out" the brakes at all four wheels. It is still possible that air was pulled in the system, when the fluid level was low. If that doesn't solve the low pedal problem, then I would suspect a bad master cylinder. I don't think that front brake calipers can cause a low pedal problem.

But if there was air, wouldn't the pedal come back when I pump it? It doesn't. I don't quite understand how the calipers cause low pedal either, but the shop was quite sure it wasn't the master cylinder. Any simple way to check that? Also I'm still trying to figure where all the fluid went. Some rear lines were replaced a year ago by a reputable garage that specializes in Subarus. I didn't check their work but I assumed they properly bled the lines and filled the reservoir.

BTW, I have loosened the hose connections to the calipers....it's going to be an easier job than I had hoped for. I will say that the calipers are rusted and the guide pin boots are torn. (and have been a long time before this problem arose)

#5 Rooster2

Rooster2

    Subaru Master

  • Members
  • 3,591 posts
  • Indianapolis

Posted 04 July 2009 - 01:09 PM

But if there was air, wouldn't the pedal come back when I pump it? It doesn't. I don't quite understand how the calipers cause low pedal either, but the shop was quite sure it wasn't the master cylinder. Any simple way to check that? Also I'm still trying to figure where all the fluid went. Some rear lines were replaced a year ago by a reputable garage that specializes in Subarus. I didn't check their work but I assumed they properly bled the lines and filled the reservoir.

BTW, I have loosened the hose connections to the calipers....it's going to be an easier job than I had hoped for. I will say that the calipers are rusted and the guide pin boots are torn. (and have been a long time before this problem arose)


From my own past experience, I had a master cylinder go bad. It has been years back, but I seem to remember that the brake pedal had to be depressed near the floor to stop the car, pretty much as you have described. Then and now, I am not aware of any specific way to test a master cylinder to see if it is working properly. I just figured the mc was bad, so replaced it, and it cured the problem.

You spoke of your calipers being rusted. I assume you are speaking of the cylinder bores being rusted. If so, then the calipers need to be replaced, because the caliper piston are not releasing pressure completely from the brake pad when your foot is off the brake. Constant pressure on the pads will wear them out faster than normal. Is this what you have been experiencing? If so, then your calipers do indeed need replacing.

The torn guide boots are not good either, so yea, I can see why your mechanic is recommending caliper replacement.

Swapping out calipers is an easy do it yourself job. Sounds like you are thinking about doing this yourself, since you have already broken loose the brake hoses. Replacing the mc yourself is also an easy job. Parts don't cost much either.

Keep us posted on how this project progresses. I would like to hear what fixes your problem.

#6 gbhrps

gbhrps

    User Awaiting Email Confirmation

  • Members
  • 799 posts
  • canada

Posted 04 July 2009 - 04:42 PM

I would agree with rooster2. Making a car go is one thing, but you must absolutely be able to stop it! I've done my own brake jobs for years on a lot of different makes and models, and its not rocket science.

Replacing the MC and calipers is an easy DIYer project. I've even done caliper piston bore and piston cleanups with 0000 steel wool, many brake fluid flushes, and new seal kits on calipers that had a minor corrosion and no pitting problems, with good success.

If you have any doubts about the calipers ...... replace them yourself and save a lot of money, but replace them. You don't want that telephone call that tells you that your daughter has been in an accident, and then find out that she couldn't stop the car.

#7 grossgary

grossgary

    Elite Master of the Subaru

  • Members
  • 19,741 posts
  • WV

Posted 04 July 2009 - 10:15 PM

I'm skeptical fo the diagnosis. it is EXTREMELY rare for more than one caliper to fail at the same time (read = nearly impossible/improbable). they might as well say "You have a bad caliper, so we're replacing your power steering rack too". you should not need more than one caliper replaced, just replace the one that's bad.

second - calipers are easily rebuilt, don't even have to remove them off the car. rebuild kits from Advanced auto parts are $2.99. that's right, $3 and it's super easy. A matter of minutes, there's only one seal to the whole deal - the piston seal. Then the boot which is just a dust cover. Two parts and you're done. Or 4 if it's a dual piston caliper (2 seals and 2 boots). Remove piston (just push it out), replace seal with dust boot in place, and bleed. That's it. It is a bit daunting if you're a timid person doing something like this the first time, but it's quite simple in all reality.

good chance this could be fixed for $3 (depending which model you have and which brakes - some are single piston, some dual). but there are more options if that scares you.

that being said - calipers are SUPER EASY to replace if you can do a brake job, you can replace a caliper. Once the wheel is off it only requires removing two or three bolts to replace the caliper! it's cake.

even if you just wanted to replace the calipers yourself and then have a shop bleed them for you, you'd save hundreds of dollars.

or - get the self bleeding systems available to do it yourself. it's not hard at all. Dave and I use the...crack i'm loosing my head, yo'ull have to search for it, it's a really nice set up that is easy to use.

#8 davebugs

davebugs

    I don't "friend"

  • Members
  • 3,112 posts
  • Pittsburgh suburbs (NE)

Posted 04 July 2009 - 10:28 PM

That would be a Motive pressure bleeder. I would suggest the Subaru specific cap. Works like a dream when you have the specific threaded adapter rather than a universal one.

#9 grossgary

grossgary

    Elite Master of the Subaru

  • Members
  • 19,741 posts
  • WV

Posted 04 July 2009 - 10:36 PM

thanks dave.

and if you decide to rebuild, we can help, it's really simple. the only problem you run into is if the caliper bore or piston are too rusted. i've never had that happen. you'd either have to get a used piston or clean the rust out first.

speaking of which - used calipers are really cheap. installing used, or buying a set to rebuild on your own clock is a nice option as well, particularly your first time.

#10 tcspeer

tcspeer

    1000+ Super USER!

  • Members
  • 1,444 posts
  • Walnut Springs

Posted 04 July 2009 - 11:10 PM

I am in agreement with the garage, I also had this problem and I replaced the master cyclinder and it was no help. My calipers appeared to be good so I took it to Midas to have it checked, After many years of knowing the manager I am able to go in the work area and watch and ask questions. He pinched off the caliper lines one at a time until he was able to get a full pedal. The bad caliper was not leaking fluid or sticking it was just bad enough to let it bleed down with the loss of air. I then paid him for his time and brought it home and replaced the caliper and the problem was fixed.

#11 4x4_Welder

4x4_Welder

    Just a guy

  • Members
  • 1,131 posts
  • Rexburg, ID

Posted 04 July 2009 - 11:26 PM

I'm skeptical fo the diagnosis. it is EXTREMELY rare for more than one caliper to fail at the same time (read = nearly impossible/improbable). they might as well say "You have a bad caliper, so we're replacing your power steering rack too". you should not need more than one caliper replaced, just replace the one that's bad.

second - calipers are easily rebuilt, don't even have to remove them off the car. rebuild kits from Advanced auto parts are $2.99. that's right, $3 and it's super easy. A matter of minutes, there's only one seal to the whole deal - the piston seal. Then the boot which is just a dust cover. Two parts and you're done. Or 4 if it's a dual piston caliper (2 seals and 2 boots). Remove piston (just push it out), replace seal with dust boot in place, and bleed. That's it. It is a bit daunting if you're a timid person doing something like this the first time, but it's quite simple in all reality.


ALWAYS replace brake components, ESPECIALLY front brake components in pairs. You don't want uneven braking forces or the car will pull. Would you replace the pads on just one side? I doubt that-
Calipers are easy to rebuild in place -if- they aren't rusted. If the bore is rusted, it needs to be honed. That's very hard to do in place, and very hard to do properly without special equipment. You can replace the slides and rubber pieces, but if it's leaking, I wouldn't count on rebuilding in place.
A set of loaded calipers is the quick and easy way to get the job done. Pads, slides, mount, and caliper all set and ready to go. All new hardware, a properly rebuilt caliper, new pads. You should also replace your hoses since they age just the same.
A low solid pedal is generally a failed chamber in the master, but the car should pull due to the diagonal split system. It can also be a failed accumulator in the ABS.

#12 Tommymc

Tommymc

    USMB Regular

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 53 posts
  • Central VT

Posted 05 July 2009 - 12:21 AM

Thanks for all the great info. I'm not worried about my ability to change the calipers....I've already had them off to replace the rotors, and I checked to make sure the hose connection would come off. I've bled lines before: is there anything special about these that I should know? I've always used the hose in a partly filled (with brake fluid) soda bottle method. Helper to step on brakes....
I guess that since the calipers need attention anyway, I'll go after them first. Not sure yet if I'll go with remans or just a kit.

Edited by Tommymc, 05 July 2009 - 12:37 AM.


#13 4x4_Welder

4x4_Welder

    Just a guy

  • Members
  • 1,131 posts
  • Rexburg, ID

Posted 05 July 2009 - 09:08 AM

If you have a helper, you can ditch the bottle. Just have them hold the brake pedal down, then pop the bleeder open. Fluid will squirt out, then close the bleeder, have them pump the pedal a few times, then do it again. Do this until you get a nice solid stream and no bubbles.
Another method is to use a vacuum bleeder. I really like this one since 90% of the time I work solo. Just stick the vacuum hose on the bleeder, open it, and start pumping to apply vacuum. Once you get nice clean fluid without any large bubbles, you're done.

#14 grossgary

grossgary

    Elite Master of the Subaru

  • Members
  • 19,741 posts
  • WV

Posted 05 July 2009 - 11:09 AM

i never replace in pairs and experience tells me it's fine. pads don't really count as they come in pairs and mine always wear evenly - i never have one wear before the other because i properly maintain my brakes - greasing the slides, etc.

i've replaced one caliper, rebuilt one caliper, replaced one rotor...etc. if one part wasn't "bad", i wouldn't be replacing anything in a perfectly working system anyway, so replacing a perfectly good one, that i would normally keep isn't how i want to do it. i haven't had one pad wear faster than the other so i have no reason to change that. if pads start wearing unevenly or the braking is affected (pulling, etc), then i'll do it differently. but until then my intuition...and my experience, shows this is fine.

everyone operates differently, but there are a lot of general rules that are good to follow but aren't necessary in all situations. i can see how replacing both might be a better "one size fits all" line of reasoning for some folks, but there's no reason to discount folks with significant experience that may do things differently.

the caliper seal can be shot, but the fluid will leak behind the rubber dust cover boot that you can visually see. so you may not see the leak, but it's there behind that boot. you'll find the boot wet on the back side if you take it apart.

on EJ calipers all i've had to do is replace seal around piston (it's just a big fat o-ring really), then install the rubber dust boot and then press the piston into the caliper bore until it's all the way in. you're done. i've done it on the vehicle plenty of times.

#15 Tommymc

Tommymc

    USMB Regular

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 53 posts
  • Central VT

Posted 05 July 2009 - 09:31 PM

So here's the update: I installed a pair of re-manufactured calipers today. The operation went smoothly as expected. After bleeding the lines, there was a little more pedal but not up to where it should be. I decided to bleed the rear, and while I was at it replace the rear shoes. They had some life left, but shoes are cheap. After everything got back together and adjusted, the brake pedal is up to where it should be. I have a suspicion that one of the rear brake adjusters wasn't working as well as it should causing excess travel to activate the shoes. In the end it seems there were several issues that were contributing to cause a big problem. Thanks for all your help and advice.

#16 Rooster2

Rooster2

    Subaru Master

  • Members
  • 3,591 posts
  • Indianapolis

Posted 06 July 2009 - 08:03 AM

Way to go!! Glad to hear that your problems is fixed. Sounds like doing the work yourself was a lot better then spending the $600+ that was quoted to you by a repair shop.

#17 grossgary

grossgary

    Elite Master of the Subaru

  • Members
  • 19,741 posts
  • WV

Posted 06 July 2009 - 08:42 AM

awesome, glad it worked out for you.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users