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How to Replace the Brake Rotors on a Subaru Forester

by Jody L. Campbell; Updated November 07, 2017

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stand

  • Wheel chock

  • 1/2-inch drive breaking bar

  • 1/2-drive ratchet

  • 1/2-inch drive metric socket set

  • Large straight edge screwdriver

  • Hammer

  • C-clamp

  • Brake clean spray

  • Shop rag

  • 1/2-inch drive adjustable torque wrench

You were told by your mechanic that your rotors are rust-pitted or in poor shape and cannot be turned on a lathe. The good news is that the rotors aren't too expensive. The bad news is, he's charging you an hour's labor per side to install them. You have some tools at home and you realize that 2 hours of labor charges at your mechanic's rates are much more attractive in your wallet than in his. Stop at the local parts store on your way home, and on your next day off, consider tackling the project yourself. It's not as hard as you think.

Park the Forester on a level paved or concrete surface. Apply the parking brake. Place the wheel chock behind one rear wheel.

Break the lug nuts loose on the left front tire. Lift the left front quarter with the floor jack and place the jack stand in a secure and safe location to support the vehicle.

Remove the lug nuts and the wheel.

Locate the two caliper bolts on the inside of the caliper and remove them with the ratchet and socket. Pry the caliper off the bridge using a large straight-edged screwdriver or leverage. Support the caliper on the upper control arm. Do not let it dangle by its brake hose.

Remove the pads from the bridge, but pay attention to how they are positioned in the bridge so you can replace them in the exact same way (unless you're replacing the pads as well). Use the screwdriver to assist you in prying the pads from the caliper bridge.

Locate the caliper bridge bolts on the back side of the wheel hub and remove them with the 1/2-inch breaking bar and socket. You can switch over to the ratchet when the bolts are loose, but they'll be very tight at first so the breaking bar will break them loose easily.

Remove the rotors. This may require you to shock them off the hub using a hammer and striking them on the fins repeatedly.

Spray the new rotors with brake clean spray to clean off the rust-preventive coating, and wipe them dry with a shop rag.

Install the new rotors on the hub.

Replace the bridge and tighten very tightly with the ratchet and again a half turn with the breaking bar.

Replace the pads in the bridge. If you're replacing with new pads, place a small amount of the supplied silicone lubricant to the contact points on the bridge.

Squeeze the piston of the caliper all the way in as far as it will go with a C-clamp.

Place the caliper over the rotor and caliper bridge, replace the caliper bolts, and tighten.

Replace the tire and lug nuts. Tighten the lug nuts flush to the hub and lower the vehicle. Re-tighten the lug nuts using the 1/2-inch drive torque wrench and a socket (65 to 80 foot-pounds).

Repeat the procedure for the right side.

Pump the foot brake pedal to restore the hydraulic pressure back into the caliper pistons. Do not forget this step as you will have no braking response until the pistons are hydraulically restored. Four of five pumps of the foot brake should restore the pistons, but pump until the brake pedal feels normal. Release the hood latch and check and adjust the brake fluid in the master cylinder if you need to.

Remove the wheel chock and test drive the car in a safe area.

About the Author

Jody L. Campbell spent over 15 years as both a manager and an under-car specialist in the automotive repair industry. Prior to that, he managed two different restaurants for over 15 years. Campbell began his professional writing career in 2004 with the publication of his first book.

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