Subaru Outback Brake Pad Replacement, Brake Flush, and Brake Bedding General DIY

Use this Tutorial to Replace the Brake Pads, Flush the Braking System, and to Bed the Brakes

Works For:
1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004,  2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Subaru Outback Models


There have been varied and assorted threads talking about doing brake jobs, bedding in brakes, and flushing brake systems, so I thought I would finally sit down and do an all in one comprehensive write up.

I didn’t really need to do a brake job right now, but I am leaving on a 3000 mile trip in a week, and wanted to get it taken care of before I left, and this was the first nice day I have had this spring, so it seemed to just make sense

For my install, I installed PBR Metal Master Pads front and rear, Speedbleeders to make bleeding the brakes a snap, and DOT4 brake fluid. I installed these on a 2004 Subaru Outback Wagon, the rear calipers uses a 7mm X 1.0 pitch bleeder and the front used a 10mm x 1.0 pitch bleeder. The Speed Bleeder model numbers were SB7100 and SB1010 respectively.

I have also created a PDF of the install, so go here if you would like something you can download and print: (2.66 MB)

Here is a list of things I think you need for this job:


Brake Pads
1 qt of DOT3 or DOT4 fluid (NO Silicone or DOT 5)
Anti-squeal Lube
Speed Bleeders (SB1010, SB7100)
Brake Parts Cleaner Spray


Jack Stands
Lug Wrench
14mm Wrench/Ractchet
10mm Wrench
8mm Wrench
Turkey Baster
Catch Container (at least 1 qt)
3/16″ ID rubber tube

To prevent air bubbles in the system, it is best to start from the point furthest from the master cylinder, in our case it is the passengers side rear wheel, then drivers side rear, then passengers side front, and the last wheel you should do is the drivers side front wheel.

First off, set your parking brake, the get your lug wrench out, and go to the passengers side rear wheel and loosen up all the lug nuts. Do not remove the lug nuts, just loosen them 2-3 turns. You want to do this while the wheel is on the ground, it is much easier that way.

Now that you have the lug nuts loosened up, place the jack (I used the factroy jack) under the rocker panel just forward of the rear wheel. With the factory jack you will want make sure you lined the slot in the jack up with the pinch weld. It also helps to have a 2X6 or something under the jack, it will be a lot easier lift the car if you do.

Jack the car up, so that there is atleast a couple of inches of space under the wheel. Now place the your jack stand under the rocker panel, right up next to the pinch weld as seen in the picture below, and as close to the rear wheel as possible. Once the jack stand is in place, lower the jack so that all the weight is on the jack stand.

Place the jack stands

Now that you have the weight off the wheel, finish removing the lug nuts and remove the wheel from the car. I like to keep the wheel close because it makes a nice seat while you are working on the brakes. Once you have the wheel off, spray down the brake components you are going to be working on with the Brake Parts Cleaner, I usually spray down the two caliper bolts and the brake bleeder screw.

Spray with Brake Cleaner

Bolts and Bleeder

The picture above shows you the location of the bleeder screw and the two caliper bolts. The bleeder screws on the rear calipers use an 8mm wrench, the front calipers use a 10mm. The caliper bolts are 14mm front and rear.

Now, if you are replacing the bleeder screws with Speed Bleeders like I did, this where you want to take your 8mm wrench and remove the bleeder screw. Once you have the bleeder screw out, thread the speed bleeder in as far as you can by hand, then use your wrench to screw it in the rest of the way, and just snug it up, DON’T OVERTIGHTEN.

Remove the old bleeder.

The old bleeder

The new Speed Bleeder

Once you have the Speed Bleeder in, take your ratchet and remove the 14mm bolts top and bottom. You can also just remove the bottom bolt and then pivot the brake caliper up on the top bolt, but I prefer to remove both bolts and take the caliper off completely.

Remove the Caliper Bolt

DO NOT let the caliper hang on the brake line. In the rear you can rest the caliper on the control arm. In the front you can rest it on the caliper mounting braket and dust shield.

Caliper Rest, Rear

Caliper Rest, Front.

So, now that you have the calipers off, you can remove the brake pads. You will notice that the brake pads in the rear have 1 shim on the them, and the pads in the front have 2 shims. Remove these shims from the pads, because you will want to reuse them on the new pads.

Rear Pad

Rear Pad and Shim

Front Pad with Shims

Once you have the pads out and you have removed the shims from the old pads, spray the shims down with the Brake Parts Cleaners, and then wipe them down front and back with a paper towel. I don’t worry too much about really scrubbing them down, I just like to knock the big chunks off.

Now that you have the shims clean, you will want to put some anti-squeal grease on them. You want to use this grease sparingly, it is very sticky when it is at room temperature, but once it gets hot it can run, and if you use too much, it could flow out and get on your pads or rotors, ruining the pads. So just smear a thin film front and back onto the shims, and the put the shims back on the rotor.

Lubed up Shim

Once you have the pads back onto the rotor, your need to retract the brake piston within the caliper so that there caliper can clear the pads when you put the caliper back on. I do this by placing one of the old brake pads into the caliper, and then using a C-Clamp to compress the brake piston.

Brake Pad in Caliper

Use C-Clamp to compress piston.

Once you have the piston in the caliper compressed, slip the caliper back over the new pads, and reinstall the caliper bolts and snug them up. If you have problems getting the caliper back on, make sure that the new pads are tight up againsts the rotor, make sure that the piston is retracted all the way, and check the pins that the calipers bolts to and make sure they are pushed back far enough for the caliper to clear them.

Bleeding the Brakes

Now, if you have installed speed bleeders, it is very easy to bleed the brakes. All you need to do is open the brake bleeder a quarter turn, attach your rubber hose to the bleeder, and then run that hose to your catch can. Next go and pump the brakes 4-5 times, which should purge all the air out of the system. Then tighten the speed bleeders back up.

If you are going to be flushing your brake system (I usually do this every time I change my pads), then you will need to do a couple more things. First off you will want to go to the brake Master Cylinder. Take the cap off, and remove the screen filter, use the turkey baster to suck as much of the fluid out of the master cylinder as you can. I was only able to get half out, because the float in the Master Cylinder prevents you from going any deeper. Reinstall the filter and top the Master Cylinder off with new fluid.

Remove old Fluid

Top off Master Cylinder

Once you have the Master Cylinder topped off, you would go through to each wheel and do what you normally do to bleed your brakes at each wheel, but you will continue pumping the brake petal till you see the new lighter colored fluid coming out. This flushing process is easy to do in the process of replacing pads.

So of course you will repeat all of these procedures on each wheel. Once you have all of the wheels done, go back through and double check that all of your lugnuts are tight one last time before you take the car out to bed in the brakes.

Bedding in the brakes

I decided to update my bedding technique to use on that Stop-Tech recommends for their performance brake pads. This has you performing a much more intensive (10 Partial Stops —> Cooling Period —> 10 Stops —> Cooling Period) bedding process than I originally recommended. But it appears that this is necessary to properly drive off the binding resins, and assure even wear of the friction material.

For a typical performance brake system using street-performance pads, a series of ten partial braking events, from 60mph down to 10mph, will typically raise the temperature of the brake components sufficiently to be considered one bed-in set. Each of the ten partial braking events should achieve moderate-to-high deceleration (about 80 to 90% of the deceleration required to lock up the brakes and/or to engage the ABS), and they should be made one after the other, without allowing the brakes to cool in between.

Depending on the make-up of the pad material, the brake friction will seem to gain slightly in performance, and will then lose or fade somewhat by around the fifth stop (also about the time that a friction smell will be detectable in the passenger compartment). This does not indicate that the brakes are bedded-in. This phenomenon is known as a green fade, as it is characteristic of immature or ‘green’ pads, in which the resins still need to be driven out of the pad material, at the point where the pads meet the rotors. In this circumstance, the upper temperature limit of the friction material will not yet have been reached.

As when bedding-in any set of brakes, care should be taken regarding the longer stopping distance necessary with incompletely bedded pads. This first set of stops in the bed-in process is only complete when all ten stops have been performed – not before. The system should then be allowed to cool, by driving the vehicle at the highest safe speed for the circumstances, without bringing it to a complete stop with the brakes still applied. After cooling the vehicle, a second set of ten partial braking events should be performed, followed by another cooling exercise. In some situations, a third set is beneficial, but two are normally sufficient.

Once you finish with the bedding process your new brake job is all finished.

View More Subaru Outback DIY's

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Subaru Outback Brake Pad Replacement, Brake Flush, and Brake Bedding General DIY”

  1. Tim says:

    Great how to, I actually used this to do my swap on Saturday and it was a no brainier, thanks.

    I would like to add that your choices in brake pads actually vary quite a bit, and when choosing some, I had found out things like coefficient of friction and general temperature ranges and wear rates were things to think about, so be aware of these options people.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress