2008 Subaru Forrester w/ Icy Brakes



I live in NJ, and I have found that during the first usage of my Forrester in the snow and sleet that my brakes reacted very strangely. When I depressed the brake at speed, I felt like the brake pedal was vibrating and pushing back under my foot and that it wasn’t completely engaging. I initially dismissed this as an issue with snow and ice. But it happened once again when there was relatively little snow on the ground. I am worried that there is a problem with my brakes. Since it has been a little bit warmer lately, the problem hasn’t resurfaced. But the last thing I want is to be travelling on the turnpike and have my brakes fail at speed with an infant in the car.


sounds like the anti-lock mechanism is doing what it should. When the system senses a wheel slip during braking it pulses that brake on and off to gain (hopefully) maximum braking without wheel slip. What you are feeling is that pulsing in the pedal.

However, I would go out on the open highway and, when there is no traffic around, jam on the brakes, partially to test them, but also to reassure you that they are working correctly. If you are still unsure of the brakes, it would be wise to have them tested.


I agree, that feeling in the pedal was the anti-lock brake system doing it’s job. If you feel the same thing on dry pavement under normal braking conditions, you may have an issue.


I am going to guess that you have never before had a vehicle with anti-lock brakes (ABS). From your description of the behavior of the brakes on both slippery surfaces and on dry surfaces, it certainly sounds like the ABS is working exactly as it should.

There is clearly a need for you to read the section in your Owner’s Manual that covers the ABS system and its characteristics, as the ABS will only work properly if you use it correctly (DO NOT pump the brake–apply steady hard pressure to the brake pedal).

While you have the Owner’s Manual open, I would suggest that you read the entire book from cover to cover, as it deals with a wealth of information that will inform you about the safe and economical operation of the vehicle. And, since there are a number of things about a Subaru that operate differently from other makes of vehicle, there is a definite need for you to educate yourself.

Also be sure to read the information in the Maintenance Schedule (a separate booklet) that is also sitting in your glove compartment. Only by reading and following the information in the Owner’s Manual and in the Maintenance Schedule can you hope to get full enjoyment and full service from a vehicle.


Definitely working ABS system. Get used to the new age of brakes.


Welcome to 2000 :slight_smile:


I’d like to thank everyone who replied. I have in fact owned previous cars with ABS, but I supposed I have never felt it engage till this point. I would however like to comment that if someone has never had the experience of rapidly decelerating in snowy/icy conditions on a downhill slope in an emergency situation or a similarly hazardous condition with ABS, one might never know what the ABS feels like…even if they had once read about it in the owner’s manual.

And just an FYI, I did appropriately stop the vehicle and I didn’t pump the brakes. I did for a second contemplate using the ebrake as I felt like the vehicle was losing control. But I managed to steer out of the situation without damaging my new car. so :stuck_out_tongue:


Glad to hear you didn’t bang up your new car, and as the others have said, the brakes are doing their job. If this is your first Subaru I think you are really going to appreciate the new ride, especially on the slippery roads.


The big advantages of ABS are stopping without swerving on icy surfaces, and being able to steer while braking heavily. Both of which it appears you did.

never pump the brakes, never use the emergency brake while moving.


No, I had a 2006 Impreza Sport Wagon before this one. We needed a little more cargo space for the baby so we got the Forrester. The only thing I find misleading is that although Subarus function better than normal vehicles without AWD in the snow and ice, they can almost be more dangerous. They give you a false sense of security. You can easily lose control under adverse conditions even with AWD especially with normal all weather tires. So, unless you plop down the money for good snow tires or studded tires (which is a waste of money for me) you could lose control in snowy weather pretty easily. I suppose what I need to do is just be as careful if not more so (now that I know what ABS is like)while driving in the snow.

BTW - I read another comment about ABS that makes it sound like ABS is less safe in the snow. Apparently with no ABS, your wheels lock, you slow up faster in a skid because the snow wedges under your tires.


What if I am in a drifting race down a mountain near Tokyo in order to regain my honor and banish the Nephew of a Yakuza who has killed my best friend? I’ll certainly need that ebrake then!


Earlier, you stated that you were able to steer your car while braking, and thus, you avoided an accident. You should be aware that locked wheels DO NOT REACT to the steering wheel.

In other words, you were apparently saved from a collision by the functioning of the ABS. Now do you think that locking your wheels on a snowy surface is better? And how about on an icy surface? ABS will allow you to stop (albeit with an extended stopping distance), and to steer the car on ice, whereas both the brake and the steering are essentially useless on ice without ABS.


Non ABS allows you to stop a bit quicker in snow/ice maybe typically in snowy conditions however absolutely no steering/control. ABS has longer stopping distance in snow/ice typically however full steering.

When tire replacement comes around find all-seasons something biased for winter traction. Nokian WR’s and Goodyear Assurance Triple Treads both have snowflakes on sidewall which means suitable for severe winter traction(eg winter tire or near winter tire rated)


Valid point…?


under those conditions you wouldn’t be driving a car with ABS.