Subaru Brake Job

Just replaced the front brake pads and pins because they were seized and had uneven wear.

New pins on and sliding properly, but braking power is very weak.

I read there is a “breaking in” process, but it kinda feels as if I’m only using my rear brakes. No noises from brakes, but noticed my steering wheel shakes a bit (while continuing straight).

I did a few slow stops at 30mph, and then 45mph. About 45 seconds in between. Left a burnt rubbery smell on the right (passenger) brake, nothing on the left. I assumed this was the joining agent on the new pads.

First brake job. Not sure if I installed them incorrectly or if I’m supposed to wait it out for them to “break in”.

You didn’t replace the rotors?

Brake break-in procedures are performed with new pads and rotors.

With used rotors, the brake pads don’t have the proper surfaces to embed into.


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I’ve never noticed much in the way of decreased braking performance with new pads installed, personally, whether I replaced the rotors or not. You didn’t get any grease or anything on the pads or rotors, right? I’m assuming you used grease on the slide pins, so just checking. You’re supposed to hose down new rotors a bit with brake cleaner to get the greasy film off, if you used new rotors.

Thank you for your response.

No, I did not replace the rotors. If break-in is not necessary, how would I go about checking whether or not the front brakes are engaging?

I’m sure they were engaging prior to the new install, because the braking power has greatly decreased.

I don’t think I got grease or oils on either side of the rotors. I switched gloves regularly and didn’t touch rotor unless necessary.

Just in case I will try using brake cleaner and reinstalling.

yes you should always do a break in of the brakes. but its possible you got a little grease on the pads and didnt realize it.

Because the brake pads can’t be bedded to the rotors properly.


You might want to take it and let a shop look at it. “Stopping power greatly decreased” concerns me a bit. But, you could jack up the front end, apply the brakes, and verify the front brakes are engaging.

Even when I haven’t installed a new rotor?

I will clean the rotors with brake cleaner and reinstall. Thank you.

It stops, but the stopping distance has increased. I can stop it if I try, but I read you’re not supposed to use new brakes hard.

Are you saying that new rotors must be installed with new pads?

On todays vehicles. most times.


New brakes don’t mind if you use them hard. I believe some aggressive stopping is used in most of the recommended break in procedures. It might help the new pads wear in a bit. I haven’t noticed much difference in brake performance when installing new pads, myself. Maybe I’m just not as sensitive to it. I don’t see how you know the stopping distance has increased if you’re not using the brakes pretty hard, though.

A seized caliper is a possibility.
Pushing the pistons in for the new pads can stir up problems.
Get a helper to press on the brake pedal (with the front lifted), see if it takes the same effort to engage the brakes, left vs right.
Has the brake fluid been replaced on a regular basis (3-5 years)?
If not corrosion throughout the system is more likely.

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even with new brakes and rotors it might take a little time to brake in and seat properly. meaning driving more than just around the block a time or 2. if your talking about a slight difference in stopping . if its a major difference then something can be wrong. but you should smell the burning smell on both sides. if only on one maybe there is a problem with one of the calipers

It’s not 100% mandatory, but it is definitely good practice. You’re supposed to either have them machined or buy new ones, and buying new ones is not much more expensive and less of a hassle. I would bet the old rotors is where the vibration is coming from, if you’re getting any vibration when braking.


Worn brake pads and rotors don’t have flat surfaces. Their surfaces are grooved and the grooves match between the old pads and rotors. New pads have a flat surface that will only touch the high parts opf the grooves on the rotors.’'You have 3 choices, new rotors, resurface (turn) the old rotors or wait until the new pads wear tp the rotors. You will have greatly decreased braking until they do.


When you pushed the caliper piston back in place to make room for the new pads, did you open the bleed valve? If you didn’t, you may have damaged the ABS. If you did, did you bleed the brakes after? A little air could ahve gotten in and if the pedal is soft, that would account for your problem.

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The Baja was made only up to 2006.
So did any even have ABS?

I was wondering about ABS too, any chance the Baja used a proportioning valve?