How to Repair Subaru Rear Brakes

by Eli Laurens

The rear brakes on most Subraru vehicles were drum-style systems until rear disk brakes were applied to all late models. Both styles can have some parts resurfaced rather than replaced. Repair to either style as regular maintenance or to replace a damaged part can take the average backyard mechanic about an hour.

Rear Drums

1

Lift the Subaru at the rear wheel by placing the head of the jack underneath a frame rail and pumping the lever until the wheel is in the air. Place a jack stand near the floor jack's position to support it. Remove the wheel by turning the lug nuts counterclockwise, then pulling the wheel from the hub. Place the wheel aside.

2

Remove the drum by turning the keeper screw counterclockwise, then pulling the drum from the brake assembly. Inspect the assembly for leaks or worn material on the wheel cylinder and brake shoes, respectively. Leaking wheel cylinder gaskets can cause a lack of pressure and could diminish the braking system to the point where it will not stop the car. Repair involves removing the two rear-mount nuts, pulling the wheel cylinder piston out and replacing the gaskets on either side.

3

Remove the brake shoes by disengaging the long retracting springs that hook into the top and bottom of each shoe. They can be levered off with a screwdriver, then set aside. Turn the primary spring nut in the center of each shoe counterclockwise and remove the shoe by pulling it directly away from the assembly.

4

Replace the shoes and springs, and resurface or replace the outer drum in the reverse order of the disassembly. Replace the wheel by turning the lug nuts clockwise, in an alternating pattern. Remove the jack stand and lower the car.

5

Repeat the entire procedure on the opposite brake.

Disk System

1

Lift the car, apply a jack stand and remove the wheel. Inspect the caliper and rotor for damage or debris. Check for leaks around the caliper, and look for pitting or grooves in the rotor surface.

2

Remove the caliper by turning the rear mount bolts counterclockwise, then sliding the caliper form the rotor. The pads will come with the caliper and can be pulled out or unfastened with a screwdriver. Check the caliper pistons for leaks and seal damage, which will require caliper replacement or advanced repairs. Pull the rotor free from the hub, after turning the spindle nut counterclockwise and removing it, if applicable. The rotor can be resurfaced repeatedly until the material is too thin to be safe; have it checked at a parts store for thickness. If the rotor cannot be resurfaced, use a new unit.

3

Replace the rotor by pressing it over the hub, and secure the spindle nut if necessary. Place new pads into the caliper and slide it over the rotor, locking the rear mount nuts into place. Reattach the wheel by turning the lug nuts in a counterclockwise direction, with an alternating pattern. Remove the jack stand and lower the car.

4

Repeat the entire procedure on the opposite brake.

Tip

  • check Replace brakes in pairs, front and rear.

Warning

  • close Use extreme caution when working on a lifted vehicle.

Items you will need

About the Author

Eli Laurens is a ninth-grade physics teacher as well as a computer programmer and writer. He studied electrical engineering and architecture at Southern Polytechnic University in Marietta, Ga., and now lives in Colorado.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images