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Emergency brake problem?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Jay H, Jun 23, 2008.

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  1. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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    I recently replaced the rotors and pads on an 05 Subaru Outback. disc brakes in the rear, with the emergency brake is a shoe type behind the rotor. I had a problem with the e-brake shoe and the rotor and I hope I didn't damage them because now with the new rotors and new pads, I'm occasionally hearing what sounds like metal on metal scratching. I know it take a bit for the new pads and rotors to seat properly but I'm kind of worried if I damaged the e-brake and the shoe may be rubbing the inside of the new rotor.

    When I removed the driver side rear rotor, I had to not only back out the rotor with a M8x1.25 x (.5 pitch) bolt and I had to whack the thing a couple times with a mallet and really adjust the adjuster sproket to get the e-brake shoe to release the hub. In doing so, I pulled out the 2 spring loaded screws that are on say position 3pm and 9pm if you look at the e-brake assembly. They seem to do the job of keeping the e-brake shoes level as they have a screw and washer and a spring to hold the ebrake shoes parallel to the hub. After I got the old rotor off, I took the screw and spring and put it back but I'm wondering what would happen if they slipped out the hub? All I did was put the screw and spring back into the hole and turned it like 90deg but it doesn't seem particurly solid and if it pulled out, what would happen to the shoe, would they rub the rotor? that's what I'm worried about. I tried to find a diagram of the ebrake so I can point out which screws I had to reinstall but I can't find one now...

    Any brake experts here?

    Jay

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  2. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Never had disc brakes on the rear brakes of any of my vehicles. I would check the obvious first, make sure nothing came loose or broke and fell down in there. Of course you don't have a drum for it to lay in, so might not have these problems. Does it grind all the time or only when pushing on the pedal? Might want to make sure the EB brake shoe is contacting right. And it may just be a case of braking in period. Check the rotor and make sure there are no new grooves in the surface. If there is, then thats a def sign of problems.
  3. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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    the rotors look fine, pads are new, and it doesn't seem to be constant, which got me thinking of the ebrake shoe perhaps loose and occasionally hitting the rotor due to centripetal force. I don't drive it that much but I will keep an eye on it to see. I can check the pad's alignment fairly easy.

    Jay
  4. burntime

    burntime New Member

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    Could you need to adjust it? It may even adjust by setting the ebrake a few times?
  5. Marty

    Marty Feeling the Heat

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    Is your sound related to applying the brakes or to driving?

    Is the e-brake working properly?
  6. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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    As far as adjusting the ebrake, I purposely left the adjuster sprocket a little loose, rather have to slowly tighten it rather than have to deal with a sticky ebrake... I can see if I can put the car up on wheel ramps and see if I can get to it without taking the wheels off if it continues...

    The sound seems to be related to driving, I can sometimes hear like something is rubbing... Hard to hear when going highway speeds, the car doesn't pull when braking or driving and haven't really tested the ebrake.. I shall soon...

    Since I bike to work, I don't drive it that much unless I'm needing to carry my sea kayak around or on the weekend when hiking in the woods...

    Jay
  7. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    If the brake is dragging, it will heat the rotor & wheel up hot.
    Take her for a good drive, pull over at a store of similar, carefully feel wheels, if one is hotter then the rest, theres your problem.
    MIght be all your hearing is the pads setting in.
  8. Marty

    Marty Feeling the Heat

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    Next time you get a chance, take it all apart and clean out the e brake shoes and re set them. you already know what to do so it will be easier. Play around with them and adjust them till the e brake works to stop the car. If the shoes are worn down replace them. You might want invest in a good sturdy hook like the one they sell at aoto parts stores for installing the springs (less than ten bucks and real handy) Aside from that you only need a few types of pliers to be ready for the job. You'll feel great, save a few bucks and maybe even your life if your unlucky enough to get that lucky.
  9. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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    I decided instead of biking to the library, I'll just take a spin..... The ebrake shoes are definitely not worn, the car is about 3 years old and plenty of meat on the shoe... The noise is not that bad, I think it's not the ebrake shoe, but just perhaps the pad needs to be played with a bit. It's not bad...


    I did learn something new though as I used anti squeel compound on the shims and pad where the piston meets it and also the guide, however, I thought the squeel compound is simply a high temperature lube, but it appears to be very gummy and not a lube. Because when I changed the pads before, I put them on the pad guides that you slide the brake pads in. I noticed the compound was very gummy and used a flathead screwdriver to screw as much as I could get off them, but perhaps I should take a dremel too to it and lightly try to get the rest off.. Perhaps the pads aren't level from the compound. This time I only put the compound on the shims....

    Jay
  10. TruePatriot

    TruePatriot New Member

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    Jay,

    I think I got this--I've done 10 years with the g.f.'s 1997 Outback wagon, and I'm pretty sure I know what you're hearing. However, if you year is other than a 1997, then of course there could be differences, and the following may not apply. But I believe that things like brakes haven't varied too much with Subaru, as I've seen pics of cars of differing years, on the 'net, and the brakes were very similar. What year is yours?

    I think you're correct--I don't think it has anything to do with the e-brake, proper; ours have worked flawlessly for 160,000+ miles. I think it is either a bad wheel bearing or, if you're lucky, simply a build-up of rust in the groove in the backside of the rotor, where the brake backing plate runs.

    It sounds like someone sharpening a knife, right? It's kind of cyclical, and DOES increase or decrease in frequency, depending upon wheelspeed? It sort of sounds like "schwiss-schwiss-schwiss," right? But only intermittently?

    Go b/w 20 and 40mph and sling it side-to-side (in a huge parking lot, when the store's closed, or on an empty road, obviously). Don't force a slide, but turn it hard enough to spill coffee. I predict you will hear it only loudest (or only) at the higher-g-force moments in your turns.

    If you're lucky, as I say, it is the grove on the rotor that mates to the backing plate on the rear wheels. This interface seals off the e-brake chamber, which is actually formed between the backside of the rotor and the front of the backing plate. It's weird (for those who haven't seen it) but these rear discs have an entire, though motorcycle-sized, drum brake assembly, under/behind the rear rotors, but the "drum" is formed by the backside of the rotor, which slips over the hub flange, into which you screw the lugbolts--cute, weird but relaively simple.

    I have a pic, believe it or not, a close-up, actually, of me removing the rust that can form in this channel, with a cold chisel. But it's too big to upload--PM me with your email address, if you want to see it.

    HOWEVER, Subaru's also have a nasty, little appetite for wheel bearings. (Think approx. $400. per, P & L.) We've done three or four in our 160,000+ joyride with this car (not to mention it's on it's third engine since new, despite my personal oil/filter changes every 3,000 miles, and the g.f. drives it 99% of the time, and gently, and the automatic trans should make for an easy life). ANYWAY, if a rear wheel bearing is going, it will cause that knife-sharpening sound you may be hearing. This is because the rotor is no longer solidly located, but is moving side to side, or deflecting, from a perfect 90 degrees, relative to the hub, as the bearings are developing slop.

    If it is a wheel bearing, it is not something to ignore--catastrophic failure is possible, if neglected long enough, per my technician friend who did one of ours (I've done the brake work on the car, but don't have a hub puller or the expertise to operate it. A hydaulic press can be needed, to push the old bearing out of the hub.)

    To be clear: It could just be accumulated rust, in the groove that the rear wheel brakes' backing plate mates with, OR it could be a wheel bearing getting sloppy.

    One Possible Test: If it's a wheel bearing, and it's bad enough, you can simply jack up the rear wheel (blocking safely) and grab it east-west, and try as hard as you can to get it to "wiggle." On these bearings, ANY movement is too much--it's not like the old school wheel bearings on, say, an '80's domestic front end, that you purposely left say 1/16" play in, at the rim. This thing should have zero movement, other than rotational, of course. On our last one, there was a huge amount of play--IIRC, about 1/8" at the tire-edge. You could feel it and hear it.

    Then repeat the above, but grabbing tire North-south.

    If no movement either way, pull wheel and rotor again, and inspect the inner clearance of the groove the backing plate mates with. If there's rust, chip it out (don't forget eye/ear protection) make sure the backing plate itself isn't swollen with rust, along the edge, reassemble and retry, in the same high-g, 20-40mph turns, preferably on the same road.

    You may also get this to occur at speeds as low as 10-15, depending upon what's going on.

    I hope this helps.... Someone should benefit from the torture this car has put me through....

    Peter
  11. Marty

    Marty Feeling the Heat

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    I always use anti-seize compound (the metallic silvery paste) on the shims. I does the job as well as the colored gummy stuff but doesn't harden as much and keeps the surfaces in good shape over the miles. It also has lot's of other applications like the rear mating surface of the rotors et-cetera et-cetera.
  12. santa8claws

    santa8claws New Member

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    Hi, I also need some advice with my Subaru 97 outback in fixing the emergency brake. I replaced the rear rotors and pads recently, but the ebrake hasn't worked for a long time now (pull the handle all the way up and it doesnt stop the wheels from turning).... So I am assuming that the "drum" shoes need to be replaced as well. Is there a quick guide to replacing these somewhere? Are there any adjustments for the ebrake cable where it connects to the caliper? How about in the console? Do you need to have the cable (adjustment) completely loose to replace the shoes? Any help (and pictures or diagrams) would be appreciated!

    Thanks!
    -- S8C
  13. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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    yes, there is an adjustment for the cable/shoes and or sprocket there, but I think it could be any of the three things I mentioned... Although if the ebrake worked before you replaced the rotors and pads, I would think the shoes are fine, it would have to be the cable or the adjustment sproket and I would check the sprocket first.

    behind the rear hub there is a dust shield, at least in my 3rd gen subaru, sounds like you have a 1st gen (though I'm no subaru expert, this Outback is the first subaru that I've owned). Anyway, in this dust shield on the bottom half, there should be a small rubber grommet. Mine is oval shaped that simply pops in and out with a flathead screwdriver.

    this is the hard part without a lift, you'll have to look in there with a flashlight, headlamp, worklight, to see the sprocket that does minor adjustments to the e-brake. You typically have to loosen the e-brake to replace the rotor. Perhaps it wasn't tightened again??? did you do the rotor or pad replacement? if not, the group that did it should of adjusted the e-brake back for you.

    If you still want to do this though or you did the rotors yourself, you'll have to contort yourself in there and hopefully get somebody to hold the flashlight so at least you know what you can feel in there...

    On my subaru, to adjust this sprocket you have to use a mallet and a flathead screwdriver to tap the screwdriver to adjust the sprocket. on mine, both the driver and passenger sides is the same. Tape the lower teeth of the sprocket to loosen the shoe and tap the upper teeth (i.e. rotate the sprocket's top away from you) to tighten the ebrake. This can be a PITA as it's all by feel cause once you get the flathead in there, you can't really see unless you want to back out the rotor again and from the sound of it, you already have the new rotors on.

    try this and hopefully your subaru adjusts the same way as mine... Heck, I've read things where it may be different but try it. If you can't adjust any further than see if the cable is loose or perhaps the cable needs to be adjusted which does involved I think playing with the center console e-brake handle and redoing some of the slack there...

    Jay
  14. TruePatriot

    TruePatriot New Member

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    Jay/Santa,

    First, I have never had to back off the e-brake, to remove the rear discs--they just slid off, but my Haynes manual does say it may be necessary to back off the star wheel, if the rear e-brake drums are worn (grooved). I have had to do this on domestics, just not on the Outback.

    Second--the Haynes manual says there is an adjustment for the cable running to the e-brake handle, under the console, and that "the correct number of clicks (until the brake is fully engaged) is seven-to-eight clicks." In 160K, I’ve never had to adjust it, despite some heavy e-brake use when the front rotors warped, due to a failed, *cough* "professionally-done" brake job, which allowed the rear discs to waaay-prematurely cease working, thereby causing the fronts to overheat and warp, terminally. First and (hopefully) last brake job I will ever pay for…(long story).

    Now, all of my Subaru experience relates only to my 11 years with the g.f.'s '97 Outback Wagon, as I say, so apply accordingly.

    But Jay, re: this:

    No offense, but the hammer-and-screwdriver thing sounds like a problem, to me. At a minimum, I believe it means the star wheels’ adjuster-bolts are rusted up, and need attention.

    In the non-Subaru world, typically, there is a “dog” or "pawl" that engages the points on the star wheel. Normally, this pawl must be pushed away from the star wheel, during manual adjustment with a thin screwdriver, while you manually adjust it, (with an e-brake, star-wheel, adjuster tool). (Now, we’re talking about adjusting the rear e-brake drums, not the cable adjustment which is done under the console).

    Admittedly, my Haynes manual does not show this pawl, or anything else that could engage the teeth on the star wheel, thereby locking it into a specific adjustment—nor do I see it in the Haynes photos. If it’s not there, then the “stars” on the star wheel must be there for manual adjustment only, meaning that perhaps these are not “self-adjusting” e-brakes?

    I admit, I have never had to work on the e-brake on the Outback, so I cannot tell you if they are set up as was EVERY drum brake I've worked on for 20 years has been, but every drum-type e-brake I have worked on has a "dog" or pawl-type lever that engages the star wheel. (Even though these cars are rear disc, the rear e-brakes are still drum-style, by virtue of having a miniature drum brake inside the backside of the rear rotors themselves.)

    In fact, on a normal car, that's WHY there is a "star wheel," so that when you brake while reversing, the "dog" or "pawl" (typically, just a flat piece of metal with holes in it for the drum brake extension springs to clip into) can engage an additionally-tighter "tooth" on the star wheel, when the brakes "cock up" under reverse braking. If there were no points on the star wheel, or no star wheel “dog” (not sure what the proper term is) it would not hold the new, tighter setting, upon readjusting itself under reverse braking.

    If these ARE self-adjusting e-brakes, and there’s no dog or other locking mechanism to be defeated during manual adjustment (typically by pushing it away from the star wheel with a narrow screwdriver while turning the star wheel) then they must hold their adjustment by friction in the star wheel assy., somehow?

    The Haynes manual does mention using a "brake adjuster tool" (or "brake spoon," as we call them) or, alternatively, a "thin screwdriver,” but it does not seem that you should have to use a mallet to turn the star wheel. Normally, you just pry up or down (depending upon which side of the vehicle you are working on) to back off the star adjuster, thereby releasing the brakes.

    Jay is doing the same thing with the hammer and mallet, but if it’s properly lubed, the wheel should turn by prying, gently, with the brake adjusting spoon (a few dollars at the parts store).

    If the star wheels turn that hard, their adjuster threads should be thoroughly wire-wheeled and coated with Neverseize, upon reassembly—I do this every time, regardless.

    Santa, I’m sending you an email, in response to yours, as I cannot resize the pics of the brake rotor rust removal I did.

    Jay—did what I wrote in post #9 (above), about the noise, have any “bearing” (pun intended) on your car’s situation?

    Hope this helps.

    TruePatriot
  15. TruePatriot

    TruePatriot New Member

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    Jay,

    A possible clarification/correction:

    From a HUGE closeup I took of my brake job on the Outback, (that I didn't know I had untiI sent Santa some pics) I see the rather ingenious way in which Subaru appears to have obviated the "dog" or pawl that locks the star wheel into each new position--it seems that the extension spring that holds the bottoms of the rear e-brake shoes together is, ITSELF, what holds the star wheel from turning, once it is in each, new position. I wondered why the individual teeth on the star wheel were so Fisher-price huge, whereas on a domestic, they're pointy and much smaller. These are more squared off and rugged and, as I say, larger.

    So IMO you're less likely to damage them by thumping them with a mallet and screw driver, but I would still get the star wheel adjusters' bolts properly cleaned up and lubed, so that they don't bind up on you entiredly.

    I'd have to pull a disc to be sure, but I'm 95% sure, from my pic, that they've eliminated a locking mechanism by using the spring itself--neat.

    However, I don't see anything that would allow them to be self-adjusting but then, considering that these drums are NOT the "service brakes" but merely the e-brake (as the car has rear discs) I guess they don't really need to be self-adjusting. As I say, I've never even had to adjust ours in 160K.

    Very interesting--too bad I can't shrink this pic.

    TruePatriot
  16. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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    The way the sprocket or the star wheel is set behind the dust cover, there's really no way to get at it with your fingers so even if it was easy to adjust by hand, no way I could get my hands inside the little access hole Subaru provides when you remove the rubber grommet. Once you get going, you don't even need the mallet but the mallet is good to get it started. Not a bad idea about the antiseize either way though. :)

    As far as the bearings go, I have not driven the subaru much really because I haven't been out kayaking too much and I bike (as in bicycle) to work. I have an MR2 which gets 35-36mpg highway so obviously I drive that much more than the 23-24mpg Outback (turbo). But I think it was just a seating of the brake pads and the shiny new rotors, at least I hope so..

    Jay
  17. TruePatriot

    TruePatriot New Member

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    Jay,

    Re: this:

    I hear ya--"they" don't make it easy. But if you did have fingers fingers that could reach the "star" wheel through the adjusting hole, I'd say your Christmas cards must be mailed from a planet slightly further from the Sun than Earth--LOL.

    Here is brake adjusting tool (or "spoon"?) but it may be too big for the e-brake hole? I've not looked at "Herself's" and she's got the car, but I would bet it would still work. This one is a little curvier than the one I have, but same idea: http://www.sjdiscounttools.com/kd295.html

    I hope you're right about the noise just being the new pads/rotors, but you should probably jack (and block) up your car and try wiggling the wheel, grabbing at E-W, then N-S. Any movement is too much, on these types of bearings. With no movement, you may be okay--with movement--ungood.

    Good for you, re: the biking! I've got a bad knee, which limits biking to the flatlands, but I love it anyway, so I'm jealous. Green is beautiful!

    That MR2 mileage isn't bad either!

    The g.f.'s '97 Outback is finally getting some good mileage, at 28 mpg (2.5l, no turbo, slushbox). I think it took the first 150K to "loosen up"--lol.

    TruePatriot
  18. Jay H

    Jay H New Member

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    Wow, that tool looks like something my dentist would use.. ouch.... :)

    I don't recall any movement in the wheel when I had my car up to do my rotors. I had to whack the ends of the old rotor with the mallet to get it free too, so I think if there was a lot of play, I would of seen it but I'll keep that in mind. I'm on vacation for two weeks so I wont be back til the end of august...

    Bummer about the knee, I really enjoy biking and have been commuting by bike since 2001, at first it was training for some long distance bike tours but I enjoyed it so much, I never stopped... If you like the flats, check out Rail Trails, they tend to be fairly flat since the trains would demo. hills and stuff all the time... I find if you go early enough, you limit the crowds on the nicer weekends and it's always fairly easy..

    Jay
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