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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everyone,

I'm looking for a bit of help. I had my rear brake pads changed and rotors resurfaced at a subaru dealer 3 years ago. 6 months later my rear driver side caliper got stuck closed and I had to have it replaced and the pads changed and rotors resurfaced again. :( Last week my car started a bit of wobble/shaking. I thought I had a flat. I checked and the tires were fine, but the rim for my rear driver side wheel was extremely hot. I'm guessing that the caliper is again stuck closed.

Anything else that could cause the rim to be too hot to touch and the car to shake? All the other rims were cool to the touch.

If the caliper is jammed, is there a fairly easy way for me to take the wheel off and disengage it so I can drive it to a shop without destroying my pads and rotor?

TIA!!!
 

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2001 SRP 2.5RS/RA/SOHC Monster
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If it was extremely hot it's probably a caliper stuck. A bad wheel bearing will create excess heat as well and could explain the wobble.

I'm surprised to hear that people still resurface rotors, though I suppose if you're paying dealer prices for rotors it makes sense.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If it was extremely hot it's probably a caliper stuck. A bad wheel bearing will create excess heat as well and could explain the wobble.

I'm surprised to hear that people still resurface rotors, though I suppose if you're paying dealer prices for rotors it makes sense.
Thanks FryphaX,

Any way I could check to see if it is the wheel bearing? I seem to recall if I jack the car up and tug on the wheel, if it's loose, it means the bearing is shot. I didn't know it could make the rim hot.

I should have also mentioned that the wobbling was sort of intermittent. I was driving and it started to wobble/vibrate. I stopped and checked the tires. I then drove again and the wobble was gone. I stopped at a red light and then continues for about 1/4 mile and the wobble returned.

BTW, I didn't have the dealer replace the brakes the second time and I don't really want to pay dealer prices if my caliper is indeed stuck again. :)
 

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2001 SRP 2.5RS/RA/SOHC Monster
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Yeah, jack the car up and tug the tire in a rocking motion to see if there is play.

Also if the caliper is stuck and you drive on it you should smell the distinct smell of burning brake pads.

Parts are stupid cheap at your local auto parts store and not very difficult to replace at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yeah, jack the car up and tug the tire in a rocking motion to see if there is play.

Also if the caliper is stuck and you drive on it you should smell the distinct smell of burning brake pads.

Parts are stupid cheap at your local auto parts store and not very difficult to replace at all.

Oh yeah, sorry, that reminds me. There was the strong smell of burning plastic. That could have been the pads.
 

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Generally bad wheel bearings make plenty of noise. If you drive next to a wall (on the side with the suspected wheel bearing/brake issue) you'd probably notice. Also, the "jack it up and pull on the wheel" test is worth trying since it's simple, but I'd be inclined to think it's a stuck caliper.
 

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I should have also mentioned that the wobbling was sort of intermittent. I was driving and it started to wobble/vibrate. I stopped and checked the tires. I then drove again and the wobble was gone. I stopped at a red light and then continues for about 1/4 mile and the wobble returned.
I've had an unfortunate number of stuck calipers, and this is exactly what happens most of the time. Only once has one COMPLETELY seized and made driving really sketchy. More than just a wobble I mean. And you could feel the heat radiating from the wheel well area and see the rotor glowing red!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I've had an unfortunate number of stuck calipers, and this is exactly what happens most of the time. Only once has one COMPLETELY seized and made driving really sketchy. More than just a wobble I mean. And you could feel the heat radiating from the wheel well area and see the rotor glowing red!
Any way to sort of loosen the caliper so the car can be driven to a shop without trashing the rotor?
 

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I've used screwdrivers to spread calipers, but I'm sure there's a better way. Try soaking the slide pins with seafoam deepcreep or your preferred penetrating oil, and tap around with a hammer?

Mine usually seize intermittently, so when it's free I just toss some vice grips with cardboard in the jaws on the bake line if I need to get somewhere. Jack it up, if you can spin the wheel just clamp the line. If it's staying seized up, I'd say remove the caliper completely and vice grip the line. Either way drive it easy because the car will pull a little to one side during breaking.

That said, what's at a shop, besides greater cost? Replacing a caliper is really easy and a great place to start learning to wrench on your car. As important as brakes are, they're pretty straightforward. I believe it's two 14mm bolts holding the caliper, and the banjo bolt for the brake line should be a 12mm. I'm sure there are guides around here somewhere...

Edit: oh yeah, make sure to zip tie the vice grips to the strut or something so they're out of the way and don't flop in between the wheel and caliper!
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
I've used screwdrivers to spread calipers, but I'm sure there's a better way. Try soaking the slide pins with seafoam deepcreep or your preferred penetrating oil, and tap around with a hammer?

Mine usually seize intermittently, so when it's free I just toss some vice grips with cardboard in the jaws on the bake line if I need to get somewhere. Jack it up, if you can spin the wheel just clamp the line. If it's staying seized up, I'd say remove the caliper completely and vice grip the line. Either way drive it easy because the car will pull a little to one side during breaking.

That said, what's at a shop, besides greater cost? Replacing a caliper is really easy and a great place to start learning to wrench on your car. As important as brakes are, they're pretty straightforward. I believe it's two 14mm bolts holding the caliper, and the banjo bolt for the brake line should be a 12mm. I'm sure there are guides around here somewhere...

Edit: oh yeah, make sure to zip tie the vice grips to the strut or something so they're out of the way and don't flop in between the wheel and caliper!

Thanks. I'll probably try doing it myself in the future. For now, I don't really have a place to work on the car.


Does anyone have any ideas why two calipers would fail on the same wheel? It seems odd that the 3 year old caliper would fail. Could it be a problem with my break line that goes to that wheel? I should also mention that the car sits allot.
 

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I JUST had this happen to me (hawkeye though).

Bad rear wheelbearing and the heat caused the brake to seize. You'd notice a muffled grinding sound at slow speed before it got too bad (then it is really noticeable).

Yours could be a different problem though.
 

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1. How many miles on the car?


2. When was the last time the brake lines were properly flushed and all new brake fluid installed?


3. Was the replaced caliper a new caliper or just a new rebuilt caliper?


4. Smell of " burning plastic " would be the brake pads, most likely, It's a smell that clearly stands out. Pretty much the same smell as a burning clutch.


Several things here to check.
Just because the shop / Dealer replaced the caliper does not mean you got a brand new Subaru caliper, especially considering the age of the car. Rebuilds can be good or bad, depending on where the rebuild came from.


If your old brake lines were not properly flushed at the time of caliper replacement, then dirty brake fluid could cause the caliper to freeze up.


Something in the caliper could be jammed in there, causing the brake pad to be stuck in the caliper, which causes the caliper to freeze up.


As was mentioned already, if your wheel bearing is going bad, usually there will be a noticeable squealing while it is failing. Pretty hard to miss.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
1. How many miles on the car?


2. When was the last time the brake lines were properly flushed and all new brake fluid installed?


3. Was the replaced caliper a new caliper or just a new rebuilt caliper?


4. Smell of " burning plastic " would be the brake pads, most likely, It's a smell that clearly stands out. Pretty much the same smell as a burning clutch.


Several things here to check.
Just because the shop / Dealer replaced the caliper does not mean you got a brand new Subaru caliper, especially considering the age of the car. Rebuilds can be good or bad, depending on where the rebuild came from.


If your old brake lines were not properly flushed at the time of caliper replacement, then dirty brake fluid could cause the caliper to freeze up.


Something in the caliper could be jammed in there, causing the brake pad to be stuck in the caliper, which causes the caliper to freeze up.


As was mentioned already, if your wheel bearing is going bad, usually there will be a noticeable squealing while it is failing. Pretty hard to miss.
Hi Samurai ,

1. How many miles on the car?
86,000 :)


2. When was the last time the brake lines were properly flushed and all new brake fluid installed?

Oct 2015, when the caliper was replaced. BG cleaner + additive


3. Was the replaced caliper a new caliper or just a new rebuilt caliper?

I thought it was new, but, looking at my invoice it says:

R LT REB CALP W/HD $133.5

I guess rebuilt for $133.5


4. Smell of " burning plastic " would be the brake pads, most likely, It's a smell that clearly stands out. Pretty much the same smell as a burning clutch.

I'm fortunate to have never burned my clutch yet, but the smell was very strong.
 

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I don't know why anyone would use BG Cleaner + some additive to flush out a brake system. BG Cleaner is for cleaning dirty fuel injectors. NO telling what that stuff would do to the caliper seals.


The best way I have found to flush out a brake system is using clean, fresh brake fluid ( I use Valvoline Synthetic ) along with a pressurized bottle ( Motive Brake Bleeder ) to push out all the old fluid starting from the brake master cylinder out through the brake calipers.


Of course, you also have to use the correct bleed procedure so you don't leave any air in the lines.


You definitely had a new, REBUILT caliper installed. Makes sense since the car is too old to have new ones available anymore. Big problem lies in where the Dealer got the * new * caliper from and who rebuilt it. Never buy any of the Auto Part Store house brand items because the tend to fail quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
I don't know why anyone would use BG Cleaner + some additive to flush out a brake system. BG Cleaner is for cleaning dirty fuel injectors. NO telling what that stuff would do to the caliper seals.


The best way I have found to flush out a brake system is using clean, fresh brake fluid ( I use Valvoline Synthetic ) along with a pressurized bottle ( Motive Brake Bleeder ) to push out all the old fluid starting from the brake master cylinder out through the brake calipers.


Of course, you also have to use the correct bleed procedure so you don't leave any air in the lines.


You definitely had a new, REBUILT caliper installed. Makes sense since the car is too old to have new ones available anymore. Big problem lies in where the Dealer got the * new * caliper from and who rebuilt it. Never buy any of the Auto Part Store house brand items because the tend to fail quickly.

Thanks Samurai Jack,

The rebuild caliper wasn't from the dealer, it was a private shop. No idea the brand.


I forgot to mention that my car sits allot. Often if the car has sat for a week or more, when I pull out, the car resists moving a bit until I depress the accelerator moderately and then I can hear a fairly loud pop/scrape like noise from several of the wheels. I think all the brakes stick a bit, though I am unsure if it is the ebrake that doesn't initially release or the disk brakes.

This occasion sticking after sitting might be unrelated to my current caliper freeze. I'm not sure. It doesn't happen every time I drive the car. However, after moving the car last weekend and hearing the pop noise, it dawned on me that some system wide problem may be leading to the premature death of this caliper and this initial sticking is probably a symptom.

I've been watching youtube videos. I think I've figured out at least enough to take the wheel off, maybe check the sliders, and pry the caliper open. :naughty:
 

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Hi Bugeyed


That " popping " sound you are describing is perfectly normal when a car sits for a while, especially if it has been raining or a lot of moisture is in the air. Sometimes it can be quite loud but it's harmless.


Remember that brake rotors are made of metal. Brake pads, depending on what brand/type you are using, also have some metal in them.


What happens is the brake pads rust to the brake rotors to some extent so when you start to drive away, you feel resistance and then the " pop ", which is the sound made when the pads release from the rotors.


If you move the car and get that pop, stop the car and look at the rotor. You will actually see the shape of the brake pad outlined on the brake rotor. It wears away as soon as you start using the brakes and is nothing to be concerned about.


The same can be said for some grinding sound after a release as described above. That is just the rust wearing off.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hi Bugeyed


That " popping " sound you are describing is perfectly normal when a car sits for a while, especially if it has been raining or a lot of moisture is in the air. Sometimes it can be quite loud but it's harmless.


Remember that brake rotors are made of metal. Brake pads, depending on what brand/type you are using, also have some metal in them.


What happens is the brake pads rust to the brake rotors to some extent so when you start to drive away, you feel resistance and then the " pop ", which is the sound made when the pads release from the rotors.






If you move the car and get that pop, stop the car and look at the rotor. You will actually see the shape of the brake pad outlined on the brake rotor. It wears away as soon as you start using the brakes and is nothing to be concerned about.


The same can be said for some grinding sound after a release as described above. That is just the rust wearing off.
Thanks! That's what I always thought, but after this second caliper fail was unsure if it was really harmless or a sign that something more was going wrong.
 
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