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Stuck Brakes

Hi everyone…I have a problem that I am trying to figure out and I’m hoping someone can help me.

I have a 1996 subaru legacy outback with 239,000 miles. It runs great and is an all-around great car. I just replaced all of the clutch components, the flywheel, the clutch cable, and both front driveaxles. I started up the car and everything worked great. Once I started driving, however, I realized there was a problem. My front driver’s side brakes are now dragging and dragging BAD, but it takes a few minutes of driving before the dragging begins. The car drives great for the first few minutes but once it is warm, those front brakes and only those brakes start dragging and they just grip harder and harder until the whole car shakes and smoke pours off the rotor. I have jumped out and inspected all brakes while this is happening and none of the others are grabbing.

My first thought was the hill-holder system so I disabled it and tried again, but there was no change at all. I am now thinking that I should replace the problem brake caliper, but it is only about 1.5 years old and before beginning work on the clutch and other parts, the calipers were giving me no problem. Any information or opinions would be appreciated. Thanks.

My prime suspect would be the flexible brake line running to that wheel.

With over 200k miles on the clock, it is likely that there is deterioration on the inside of that brake line–as well as on all of the other brake lines, even if the problem has not yet shown up on the other wheels.

What is happening is that the brake line is “collapsing” internally, trapping fluid in the line, putting pressure on the caliper, and not allowing the fluid to return to the master cylinder. You need to replace the brake lines, flush the brake system, and refill it with new brake fluid.

Also, if the rotor on that wheel has gotten hot enough to have smoke “pour off of it” multiple times, that rotor is now trashed. Replace that rotor, ALL of the flexible brake lines, and the fluid, and you should be good to go (actually, good to stop!).

Thanks for that information. That’s a good idea and I hadn’t thought about the quality of the flexible brake lines. I was planning to replace the rotor…it is clearly destroyed…but do you think the caliper is ok? I haven’t done a lot of driving with the dragging brakes, only enough to test things. Thanks a lot.

Now that you mention it, I think that you should also replace the caliper.
And–check the grease on the wheel bearing. That could also have been “cooked” by several incidents of overheated brakes.