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'03 subaru forester

I have a 2003 Subaru Forester, manual transmission, about 117k.
Three weeks ago I go to back up and the car feels like the wheels have seized up, wasn’t able to budge an inch. I couldn’t pull forwards or back. Called the tow truck, brought it to the mechanic and the next day they call and said the rear brakes are almost metal to metal, and that the e-brake pad needs to be replaced as well. So I have that work done and a couple days later the same thing happens. I go to the store and when I go to leave I couldn’t pull forward or back. It felt like the brakes were engaged and if I were to give it too much gas something would break. Called the tow truck again to have it brought back to the mechanic, but this time I couldn’t wait to meet the tow there, so I just left the key with the mechanic (mechanic was only a couple blocks from where I was stuck). The next day the mechanic calls to say that the tow truck driver didn’t have any problem pulling the car onto the tow, and they didn’t have any problem pulling the car into the garage. They put it on the lift and took a look, but couldn’t see anything wrong with it.
I drove it to work and back the next two days and then it happens again. I try to go in reverse and the wheels have seized up. Went back to the car about an hour later and there was no issue. Drove it a couple more days without a problem, then it happened again this evening. This time it begrudgingly pulled forward a couple feet then stopped. Left it there for about an hour, came back and was able to drive it away without issue. When it seized up I couldn’t even push it while in neutral.

What could be causing my car to not want to pull forward or back like this?

Thanks for any clues and help!

It’s a very common problem and your “mechanic” should be fully aware of it. Why on earth he doesn’t know is beyond me. Anyway…you have one or possibly more bad rubber brake hoses. They fail internally and when they do…they hold brake pressure for minutes and sometimes hours. It’s a very simple diagnosis and very easy to fix. I would replace all the rubber brake hoses and your mechanic as well. Really…I’m serious.

We had a little truck at work, a heavy dew would rust the brakes into a lock, being a work truck we just hit the gas till the brakes let go. maybe time for a brae job, with better pads.

If I were a betting man—and I most certainly am–I would say the problem is with your hillholder. Subaru equipped these cars with a neat device that allows you to press the brake pedal and hold it down, then press the clutch pedal, and you can release the brake pedal and the brakes stay engaged. This is designed to assist you in starting from a stop while facing uphill; the car will not roll backwards while you try to go forward.

I’m certain that this valve is sticking shut and keeping the brakes applied. I would have your mechanic disconnect the cable from the clutch mechanism to the hillholder and your problems should be solved.

My vote is for a hillholder problem. Those are also easily affected by clutch wear, pedal free play, and so on. They’re generally easy to sort out.

Thanks for the suggestions.
Much appreciated.

…or it could be the hill holder as @asemaster and @ok4450 suggested. I haven’t owned or worked on a Subaru in 30 years and had totally forgot about the hill holder. I hear most people have them disconnected so that may be an option for you if that’s your problem. Subaru must have made these for people who can’t drive since most experienced drivers have no need for the device.

so is the Hill Holder essential to have? It sounds like I could have it disconnected.
I don’t recall not rolling back a little on hills when I took my foot off the break.

Drove it back and forth to work since last post and made an appointment with the dealer to check it out this coming Monday, but it happened again today.
This time it had to be towed from where it was parked… when the tow driver tried to back it off the truck it was obvious the front drivers side wheel was locked up. the rear wheels turned, but that one just stayed still.
Is the Hill Holder on all wheels? just the back? what else could be causing the wheel to lock up like that, but then be fine hours later. I haven’t tried to drive it since it’s been off the tow truck.