2018 Subaru Outback - Stopping power

I would like to increase the stopping power over the OEM brakes. Do I need to go Ceramic or semi metallic? Thanks so much!!

I have found semi-metallics to have a bit more bite than ceramics, in general. Semi-mets are dirtier than ceramics. There are lots of makers of these parts and there is a wide variation of performance.

I’d suggest you take a look at a performance brake pad manufacture’s website and see what they have to say. I like Hawk (hawk.com) brake products and their HPS and HP-Plus pads are both more aggressive than the factory pads. You can get them, and other brands from TireRack and other sites. TireRack at least compares stopping power pad-to-pad.

I am trying to understand why you need more stopping power on a new vehicle . And with ABS how would you tell the difference .

If changing the pads does increase stopping power (by creating more heat faster) will the rotors then warp?

That’s a possible scenario, though you cannot brake harder than the friction between tyres and the road. And then there is the ABS system.
I don’t really see the need for them unless, possibly, if the driver has a very weak foot.

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If you upgrade the brake pads, be aware that they will wear out faster, and wear out your rotors faster as well. They can actually decrease your stopping power if they over power the tires. Even with ABS, if they grab and stop the tires too quickly, the ABS may not kick in because it doesn’t detect a difference in wheel speed between the wheels.

You may need to upgrade your tires to a grippier compound, which are also more expensive and will wear out much quicker in order to take advantage of the upgraded brake pads.

Because of the additional heat these can create, you should also upgrade your rotors to at least slotted rotors to help dissipate the additional heat. Drilled and slotted would be better but there are rumors that drilled rotors may crack in street use. They are meant for track use, but there have been advancements in rotor metallurgy and design that may make them more suited for street use.

Remember a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Upgrading one link will not necessarily increase the strength of the chain.


I suspected the OP wanted the “perception” of greater stopping power rather than actual greater stopping power. Less pedal effort from higher coefficient of friction brake pads will give this perception.

@anon86613489 and @keith are both right on the mark. The pads are just one link in the chain. The tires are the primary element in the braking system for a single stop. For multiple high speed stops, the size and design of the rotor plays a large part as well as the calipers.

The ABS is pretty much a non-player here. It will work well until you get to the extremes of racing. It is designed to be as insensitive as possible to changes in conditions and tire design because you can’t control those things once the car leaves the factory.

Except it doesn’t create heat faster. It is exactly the same if the speed and the stopping distance are the same. The pedal effort will reduce with more aggressive pads.

If the stop is quicker, the energy put into the brakes is still exactly the same but the time to cool off the rotors is a tiny bit shorter. Makes very little to no difference.

I’m very curious - why aren’t the stock brakes good enough? Have you gone out and tried them to their max? Made the ABS kick in?

Carbon metallics is what I use now. Great improvement over the stock ceramics pads.Better pedal feel and shorter stopping distance.

Just out of curiosity, I took a look at the “Dry braking, 60-0 mph” figures listed by Consumer Reports, and the Outback has a slightly shorter stopping distance than most other AWD or FWD SUVs/Crossovers/Vans. The difference is only a few feet, but all the same, the Outback’s stopping distance is slightly shorter than that of all these other vehicles:

Honda Odyssey
Toyota Sienna
Chrysler Pacifica
Dodge Caravan
Honda CR-V
Jeep Compass
Toyota Highlander
Kia Sorrento
Mazda CX-9
Honda Pilot
VW Atlas
Ford Explorer
Hyundai Santa Fe
Jeep Wrangler
Ford Expedition
Toyota Sequoia
Chevy Suburban/GMC Yukon
Lexus RX
Infiniti QX60
Lexus GX
Acura MDX
Range Rover and Range Rover Sport

In order to get really short stopping distances, it is necessary to look to performance-oriented sedans.

No. “Warped” rotors are usually not warped. The surface imperfections aren’t due to the rotor metal bending from heat, but due to deposits on the surface making the surface bumpy.

As far as stopping power, most of those OEM stopping distance tests are one-offs. In other words, they aren’t doing repeated hard braking. If they did, they’d find their stopping distances getting a lot longer the hotter the brakes got. So there’s a bunch of stuff you need to do if you want good stopping power over repeated applications.

As others have said, you need sticky tires for good braking, which means you need a second set of wheels if you live in winter areas. Then you run summer performance tires in the good months, and switch to winter tires when it gets cold.

Once you have the better tires, Porterfield R4S pads are excellent. They have better initial bite than most OEM pads, and they’re less susceptible to transferring heat to the pad backer, which means you’ll take longer to boil your brake fluid, so repeat hard stop performance becomes better. They’re designed for street cars that see occasional race track use.

Finally, upgrade your brake fluid. Your car came with DOT3 fluid. Upgrading to DOT4 or, better yet, DOT5.1 (not DOT 5 - that will screw everything up) will increase the fluid’s boiling point so that heat doesn’t fade your brakes as readily.

Excusez moi.
Your pedal feel may be better, but Your stopping distance is - at best - the same. You can’t beat the tyres with brake pads.
In the worst scenario, You’ll upset the balance between front and rear brakes, but the ABS system may correct for that. I’m not sure.