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Excessive front disc and pads wear.


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Last year, at 17,000 miles, at the the 2nd annual service, I had to replace the front discs and pads on my 2 year old Outback.  The mechanic report said 90% wear and sticking on nsf brake.  I pointed put that this seemed excessive wear and maybe there was a problem with this vehicle's brakes. But the advice was 'to monitor' the situations.

Yesterday, at just a further 11,000 miles since the last service, I had the same experience.  Excessive wear on pads and discs so needing replacement. Advice again was 'to monitor the wear'.

I'm unhappy with this and also the fact it's costing me the best part of £1000 for an annual service on a relatively new car.

I've written a complaint to Subaru UK and to lodge a warranty claim (the 3 year warranty runs out at the end of this month) asking for the front brake system to be replaced under warranty.

For comparison, I've kept my annual service record for my previous car, a Skoda Yeti (diesel 4x4 - so relatively heavy) and I only had to replace the front pads and disc once in 60,000 miles of driving.  I don't believe it's my driving habits that are causing this excessive wear, and I live and travel in the same area, so similar motoring.

So 17,000 miles first replacement; 11,000 miles second replacement; that seems to me like the problem is getting worse, and if the brakes seize or are damaged in between services next time, that could be hazardous.

Anyone else have similar issues with excessive wear of their brakes?

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No luck with Subaru UK or the dealership with is issue.  Despite my evidence indicating careful (normal at worse) usage and loading of the car which they've dismissed without a thought as a 'heavy' usage and loading and so heavy wear and tear.  They effectively have given me the middle-finger. Not bothered to inspect the braking system to see if the cylinders, rotors, callipers, torque vectoring, ABS, ESP, etc, has malfunctioned. 

30 plus years of car ownership and never had to consider a warranty claim or had to replace front discs and pads in under 60,000 miles more than once.   I've had to do it twice, first in 17,000 miles, and later in just 11,000 miles with this car. 

There's no way I'm going to be paying the best part of £1000 for each annual service.

I'll be selling the Outback asap and saying Sayonara to Subaru for good .

 

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The trouble with brake servicing these days is that full servicing isn't on most service schedules....Toyota do or did the last time i had a car new enough to require dealer servicing, peering at the brakes through the wheels and squirting brake cleaner about with !Removed! abandon isn't doing any good, if anything brake cleaner helps wash off any remaining lube.

Japanese brakes ideally need a full strip clean and relube every year, especially the further north you live where road salting gets heavier, every other year at the very least even in the less salted south.

Has anyone serviced the rear brakes? ok they don't offer much in the way of retardation but because they offer so little they are even more prone than the fronts to not giving full effort from light brake application, it might be interesting to ask a friendly MOT station to check the brakes on the rollers, see how progressive they are all round, whilst they no doubt pass the MOT thats at full pedal pressure application, doesn't mean the rears are doing their fair share when you are braking normally.

If it were mine i'd first DIY a full brake service, ie remove one pad at a time and exercise the pistons in their bores carefully, throughly clean the pad carrier including pinging off the stainless steel spring clips the pads sit in and scrape the crud off which accumulates under them, use the correct brake grease (not coppaslip) in the appropriate places clean up and rebuild, do this for all the brakes.

If you don't wish to DIY i'd find a decent indy mechanic or Subaru specialist to do this for you, it appears your main dealer isn't sympathetic or helpful,  Japanese car brakes especially do not suffer salt well in my experience, have exactly the same issues on my Prado you have to keep the brake servicing up.

Next time they need replacing maybe try Brembo or other decent quality aftermarket parts, which usually last longer and offer just as good if not better braking to boot, with shopping around should be cheaper than OE too.

One other thing, have you had the old parts back, did you see them for yourself, were they really worn that much that they couldn't have easily lasted to the next service or is a workshop upselling bonus scheme rearing its ugly head here.

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Thanks for your reply Judd and advice. 

Further reply from Subaru UK wasn't helpful and just referred me back to the dealership who serviced the car last Monday, stating they, the dealership, needed to make a warranty claim if they thought there was an issue.  I've emailed the dealership and asked if there are planning to do this, but have very little confidence they will.  Despite my quiet, but assertively raised concerns at the dealership on the day, they basically said, at the time, we'll monitor and see! 

There's also the Motor Ombudsman, and various consumer rights issues I could try, as well as approaching a number of media consumer champions to see if they'll take up my case.  I've found the email for Subaru UK CEO too, so that a later possibly to pursue.  

I did see the old parts and they did appear worn, with perhaps one pad more than the other, but not significantly so.

They did change the rear pads (but the discs were Ok), which I don't have a problem with given just under 30,000 miles, although this is less than my other vehicles. in the past. Interestingly, the Subaru UK reply said that if pads are changed discs should be too. I've not had to do this on previous vehicles if the discs were still sound, and the dealership obviously agreed.

I like your idea about getting the front brakes checked and cleaned, and perhaps in the New Year I'll do this at my local indy garage, to a) monitor the wear, and b) give them thorough clean, etc.

To my mind the problem has got to be either A. Me and my driving style causing heavy usage and load; B. A problem with the braking system (brake components, over active torque vectoring; ABS, etc.); or C. Poor quality of parts, which I think can be discounted.  I believe it is B, and despite me providing some evidence that it was not, or very unlikely to be A, we've hit an impasse.

It's a shame because in many other ways I really like the car.  It has its foibles, but I could have lived with them.  

There are a couple of Outbacks locally and the owners I assume drive around the same sort of landscape, so I'm tempted to ask them whether they've had any issues with brakes. But I don't see this as being an Outback related issue per se, but something to do with my specific  vehicle.  Its MY was 2019, and it was first registered in December 2020.  I've no idea where it was stored before then or in what conditions (over the covid period). That may or may not be a contributing factor if its a mechanical issue.

Whatever, I've got an eye out for a new(er) vehicle.  Maybe it's my natural cussedness (!), but I'm tempted to go and buy another Outback and see if I have the same issue, but that would be an expensive way to prove I'm right (and what would i do if It reoccurs)!

Cheers again.

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Regarding rear pad wear, our 2002 Outback H6 was the first car i've had where the rear pads wore faster than the fronts, SWMBO doesn't hang about and the brakes weren't prone to overbraking at the back so it can only have been the stability control (again first car with such a feature) doing its thing applying various brakes as it sensed slip developing, in other simpler cars the rears (often drums) would ast almost indefinately, usually corrosion rather than wear forcing replacement.

You noticed one pad worn more than the others, that does suggest to me that something is sticking, in theory all 4 should wear at near enough the same rate.

Most times i reckon on two sets of pads before the discs need changing, as do you and i'm fairly sure that is the case for most of us whatever brand of car we drive, its the same typical practice on truck brakes...just out  of interest i got 350k kms out of the first set of steer and drive axle pads from my artic tractor unit (260k from the second set on the same discs which is what one would expect) running at maximum weights, if all cars had some sort of auxilliary or regenerative braking it just shows what the benefits could be, electric and hybrids being the obvious winners here if people make use of the regen systems.

Regarding car storage over the ludicrous lockdowns thats a good point, i know from lots of previous experience with defleeted cars stored in compounds that if a car was defleeted in say March and stood 6 months the salt bath from winter would ensure everything underneath would be far worse than another car defleeted say in October...the former car having a strong salt mix baking into its nooks all through the hot summer, the latter car having had the benefit of 6 months of salt free rain to wash the worst of the salt off before being stood up....taken further, the latter car stood for 6 months all through the following winter would probably be a much better long term bet for all corrosion issues than the other...one of the many reasons i spend more time under a potential purchase than anywhere else.

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Yes one each side of each disc, doesn't matter whether the caliper is a single double or quadruple piston, whether sliding or opposed piston design, the pads are either side of the disc and supposed to apply equal pressure to the disc when braking therefore wearing all 4 on the same axle at the same rate...in practice on a sliding caliper design you do find the pad on the piston side is inclined to wear just a fcation faster than the other, but that can also be the other way if the sliders start to seize through lack of proper maintenance, the pad on the opposite side of the piston no releasing fully due to said sliders sticking, or either pad becoming stuck in the carrier due to build up of crud...there clear as mud, there's a good reason i've never written a book 🙂

Did you see the discs perchance?

 

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Thanks.  Do you know, I was thinking that while he showed them to me. I know that, albeit 15 years plus since I used to do my own maintenance. Why the heck didn't I ask! I'm a colossal numpty, that's why, and I could kick myself.  So they showed me on side, near or off I do't know, but not the other side.  Was that because the other side was less worn?  We'll never know now as it's too late. 

I did see one disc, and it was scoured, but why, oh why, didn't I have the wherewithal to ask to see the other!!! 

In my defence, I'd drive two hours in the rain to get there for 9:00am that morning; spent 5 hours  plus kicking around the local market town, also in the pouring rain (there's only so many coffees you can drink and museums to visit); then arrived back at the dealership to find the parts hadn't yet been delivered and they were chasing them up.  So another 2 hours siting in a bland showroom waiting.  It was 5:30 pm when it came time to pay up, and I had a very wet, dark drive up north again, so I was keen to put some mileage between me and the whole teeth grindingly annoying experience and a sore wallet.  Urgh!

Anyway, you've given me a positive plan of action to get the brakes independently checked and given a thorough servicing, once they got a bit of mileage on them and I'll take things from there depending on the outcome.

Thanks again Judd. 

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You're very welcome, there is little more demoralising than having to hang about somewhere, not so bad in the summer and you know how long its going to be.

Dsiatnce from workshops is the downside of Subarus sadly, i'm also in the same boat because specialists are at least 40 miles away.

Glad you're fixed up.

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  • 5 weeks later...

On my second service on a 2019 Outback Premium SE I was advised my front discs were badly scored and pads were 90% worn. They also advised the rear callipers were sticking.

That was at around 20,000 miles.

They wanted around £1000 plus VAT to sort them.

I bought a disk and pad set direct from EBC, which included uprated discs and Green Stuff pads, plus Green stuff pads for the rear , for around £320, including calliper grease.

Replacement was easy.

Breaking was much better, and at its first MOT at 40000 miles, the report came back as pads 20% worn. Discs were fine with very little scoring.

My partners 2017 WRX STi needed new discs and pads at its first MOT. Milage was around 25,000 miles.

Again, I got direct from EBC and she wanted like for like replacements. I think we were about £450 for 4 discs and 4 sets of pads.

She is now on 70,000 miles and I am just starting to think about disc replacement. 

So in both cases, EBC kit lasted at least twice as long as Subaru OE kit, and gave better braking performance.

 

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Never tried EBC myself, but as in your post most reports i've read have been positive for the 'greenstuff' the redstuff being more suited to track days, i've usually found better than original brakes both in action and rates of wear by choosing decent quality aftermarket products (as well as saving money) over OE, though it must be said decent regular brake servicing and properly lubed calipers will have played their roles too.

Seeing where you live Rob_B in a heavy winter salting area do you have a regular clean/lube regime for your brakes, because you don't appear to have had any seizing issues since fitting the EBC friction materials yourself several years ago.

One question if you don't mind, the discs that came from EBC, were they painted? i have an OCD about badly rusted unswept areas of discs so if the discs are bare metal i always paint the unswept areas before fitting, i also paint calipers black hate seeing those rusty too.

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16 hours ago, Rob_B said:

On my second service on a 2019 Outback Premium SE I was advised my front discs were badly scored and pads were 90% worn. They also advised the rear callipers were sticking.

That was at around 20,000 miles.

They wanted around £1000 plus VAT to sort them.

I bought a disk and pad set direct from EBC, which included uprated discs and Green Stuff pads, plus Green stuff pads for the rear , for around £320, including calliper grease.

Replacement was easy.

Breaking was much better, and at its first MOT at 40000 miles, the report came back as pads 20% worn. Discs were fine with very little scoring.

My partners 2017 WRX STi needed new discs and pads at its first MOT. Milage was around 25,000 miles.

Again, I got direct from EBC and she wanted like for like replacements. I think we were about £450 for 4 discs and 4 sets of pads.

She is now on 70,000 miles and I am just starting to think about disc replacement. 

So in both cases, EBC kit lasted at least twice as long as Subaru OE kit, and gave better braking performance.

 

Thanks for that posting Rob.  I do wonder how many other Subaru owners have encountered the same response from dealerships ("...90% worn....discs badly scored.... that'll be Kaching £££££££").

I've been actively looking around for another vehicle, but if by chance I decide to keep it longer I will most certainly be taking it to my local indy garage who I trust to have the brakes checked and, if needed, non OE kit installed this time (as Judd recommended earlier). As they say "Fool me once, shame on you....fool me twice...shame on me".  I'm carrying the shame from the last, and second, dealership service 🤬

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EBC and other known brake producers (DBA is my favorite as all their discs are high carbon) offer painted discs. As for EBC pads, Yellow stuff is my favorite. Initial bite is great, low dust and a long life. My car is a daily driver - automatic. 

In my opinion brakes are brakes, 2 pots,4 pots ....you do your own service or find someone u trust and be OK.

Forget dealerships!!!

 

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