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Subaru Forester Front Brake Pads Replacement Guide
How to change the front disc brake pads on a 4th generation 2014 to 2018 Subaru Forester with the part numbers.

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2017 Forester Front Wheel
Slightly Loosen Lug Nuts
Raise Front of SUV
This automotive maintenance tutorial was specifically written to assist owners of the fourth generation (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018) Subaru Forester SUV in changing the front disc brake pads and lubricating the caliper slider pins.

Owners of other Subaru vehicles such as the Outback, Impreza, Legacy, XV Crosstrek, WRX, BRZ, SVX, Tribeca, Exiga, Trezia, Levorg and Baja may also find these DIY instructions to be helpful.

A few compatible replacement sets of new front brake pads with their part numbers include the following: Wagner ZD1539, TRW TPC1539, StopTech 309.15390, Power Stop Z23-1539, Centric 105.15390 and Bosch BC1539.

The tools and other items needed to complete this procedure include a lug nut wrench, a floor jack, two jack stands, a 14mm socket, a 3/8" drive ratchet, an "F" clamp and a tube of Sil-Glyde silicone brake caliper grease.

Spin Off 5 Lug Nuts
Remove Front Wheel
Front Brake Caliper
The first few steps are to park the SUV on a level surface, turn off the ignition and place the transmission in park.

Engage the emergency parking brake and place wheel chocks on both sides of the rear tires to prevent the vehicle from moving.

I prefer to work on one side of the vehicle at a time to keep three tires on the ground for extra safety.

Slightly loosen the five lug nuts on the front wheel by turning them about 1/4 turn in the counterclockwise direction with the tire iron.

Raise the front of the car with the floor jack and securely support it with at least two jack stands.

Spin off the five lug nuts and set them aside in a safe place.

Pull off the front wheel to reveal the caliper, bracket, rotor and suspension.

Loosen Lower Caliper Bolt
Loosen Upper Caliper Bolt
Spin Out Top Bolt
The front brake caliper is held in place to the bracket by two bolts located on the back side of the caliper with the bolt heads facing in towards the engine bay.

Loosen the two caliper bolts by turning them in the clockwise direction (as seen from the outside of the vehicle) with the 14mm socket and a 3/8" drive ratchet.

Spin Out Bottom Bolt
Two Caliper Bolts Removed
Pull Caliper Out of Bracket
Spin out the two caliper bolts and set them aside in a safe place.

Carefully lift the caliper out of the bracket and off the old brake pads.

Rest Caliper On Rotor
Remove Old Outer Pad
Pull Out Old Inner Pad
Rest the caliper on the rotor or suspend it from the suspension spring with a bungee cord or some rope.

Try to avoid bending, kinking or stressing the rubber brake fluid hose.

Pull the inner and outer brake pads out of the bracket.

You'll notice that the brake pads are both equipped with wear indicator bars (or 'squeal" bars) and also metal spring clips.

The metal spring clips help keep the pads away from the rotor when the brake pedal is released.

Replace Pad Abutment Clips
Replace Top Anti-Rattle Clip
Remove Caliper Slider Pins
If your set of new front brake pads includes replacement brake hardware, remove the two pad abutment or "anti-rattle" clips from the top and bottom of the bracket.

Apply a thin layer of brake caliper grease to the parts of the new pad abutment clips that will come in contact with the bracket and the "ears" of the new brake pads.

Push the new pad abutment clips into the top and bottom of the bracket until they are fully seated.

In order for the brake caliper to operate smoothly, the two caliper slider pins or "guide bolts" need to be well lubricated.

Pull the two caliper slider pins out of their rubber dust boots.

Lubricate & Replace Pins
Attach "F" Clamp To Caliper
Brake Fluid Reservoir
Apply a thin layer of brake parts lubricant grease to the smooth parts of the two caliper slider pins.

The preferred rubber safe lubricant for the caliper slider pins is Sil-Glyde.

(Do not use petroleum based brake grease since it can cause the rubber parts such as the bushing or "sleeve" on the caliper slider pin or the rubber dust boot to swell which can lead to braking problems.)

Push the caliper slider pins back into their rubber dust boots within the bracket.

In order for the caliper to fit over the thicker new brake pads, the two caliper pistons need to be compressed or "retracted" back.

Attach the "F" clamp to the caliper and use the back of an old brake pad to evenly distribute the pressure across the two pistons.

Move to the right rear area of the engine bay and locate the brake fluid reservoir with a yellow plastic cap on top.

Twist Off Counterclockwise
Compress Caliper Pistons
Move Clamp - 2nd Piston
Twist off the brake fluid reservoir cap in the counterclockwise direction and set it aside in a safe place.

Removing the reservoir cap will allow the brake fluid to more easily travel back through the lines when you compress the caliper pistons.

Slowly turn the "F" clamp handle in the clockwise direction to compress back the caliper pistons.

You may need to re-position the "F" clamp to fully compress both of the pistons.

Continue compressing the pistons until they are just about flush with the rubber dust boots that surround them.

Try to avoid pinching or otherwise damaging the rubber dust boots that surround the pistons.


Replace Brake Fluid Cap
Install New Outer Pad
Spring Clip At Bottom
Replace the reservoir cap as soon as possible. Brake fluid is "hygroscopic" so it easily absorbs moisture from the air which can lead to decreased braking performance.

Thoroughly clean off the brake rotor, caliper bracket, brake caliper assembly and the lug studs with brake parts cleaner spray. Do not use compressed air or blow with your mouth to clean off the brake parts. Inhaling brake dust can be harmful to your health since brake dust can be carcinogenic (cancer causing) if inhaled.

Apply a thin layer of brake parts lubricant grease to any area where there is metal to metal contact such as the outer lip of the caliper piston. Do not apply brake caliper grease to the friction surface of the new pads or the rotor.

 If your Forester previously exhibited shuddering, pulsations, or vibrations in the front end during braking, you may need to have your rotors "turned" (resurfaced) or just replace them with brand new rotors. If this is the first front brake job on your SUV and the rotors appear to be in excellent condition, you should be able to just replace the pads with great results.

To remove the existing rotors and install new ones, remove the two 17mm bolts on the rear of the caliper bracket that attach it to the steering knuckle. Then loosen the old rotor with a rubber mallet, pull it off, and slide the new one in its place.

The 17mm front brake caliper bracket bolts torque specification is 59 lb-ft.

I recommend buying the Wagner ZD1539 "QuickStop" front brake pads since they have excellent reviews on Amazon.

Install the two new brake pads into the bracket with the wear indicator bar and metal spring clips located at the bottom of the pads.

Install New Inner Pad
Push Pads Against Rotor
Lower Caliper Over Pads
Push the two pads together until they are flush against the rotor.

Carefully lower the caliper over the new pads and into the bracket.

If the caliper won't fit over the new pads, you might need to compress back the caliper pistons a bit more.

Spin In Bottom Bolt
Spin In Top Caliper Bolt
Tighten Upper Caliper Bolt
Line up the bolts holes in the caliper with their corresponding holes in the caliper slider pins within the bracket.

Spin the two caliper bolts a few turns by hand in the counterclockwise direction (as seen from the outside of the vehicle) to prevent them from becoming cross threaded.

Tighten the two caliper bolts by turning them in the counterclockwise direction (as seen from the outside of the car) with the 14mm socket and a 3/8" drive ratchet to just past hand tight or 19.9 lb-ft of torque.

(The service manual lists the front brake torque specifications as follows: 14mm caliper bolt 19.9 lb-ft, 17mm bracket bolt 59 lb-ft and 10mm bleeder screw 5.9 lb-ft.)

Tighten Lower Caliper Bolt
Rubber Valve Cap
Brake Fluid Bleeder Valve
Double check that the two caliper bolts are tight before moving on to the next steps.

If your Forester's brake pedal has been feeling soft or spongy, the brake fluid might be contaminated with water or the brake lines may contain a few air bubbles.

It would be best to bleed the brake lines at this time in order to flush out the old fluid and replace it with new DOT 3 brake fluid.

For more on this topic, please take a look at my Brake Line Fluid Bleeding With An Assistant DIY Guide or there is also my Brake Line Fluid Bleeding With A Power Bleeder Guide.

The brake fluid bleeder valve is located underneath a rubber cap on the back side of the caliper just below the top caliper bolt.

Replace Front Wheel
Spin On Five Lug Nuts
Slightly Tighten Clockwise
Carefully replace the front wheel.

Spin on the five lug nuts a few turns by hand in the clockwise direction to prevent them from becoming cross threaded.

Slightly tighten the lug nuts in a "criss cross" or "star" pattern with the lug nut wrench.

Lower Car From Stands
Torque 88 To 110 lb-ft
Front Brake Pads Replaced
Carefully lower the car from the jack stands by using the floor jack.

Continue progressively tightening the lug nuts in a star or criss cross pattern to about 1/4 turn past hand tight.

It would be best to use a torque wrench or an electric impact wrench with a torque stick to properly tighten the lug nuts.

The owner's manual lists the lug nut torque specification as being a range between 88 to 110 lb-ft.

Sit in the driver's seat of the vehicle and firmly push down the brake pedal a few times to restore the brake line pressure.

Check the brake fluid in the reservoir and verify that it is at the proper level. If it is low, pour in some fresh DOT 3 brake fluid from a new bottle.

To break in your new front brake pads, just try to drive normally for the first few hundred miles while avoiding any hard or "panic" stops which may glaze over the new pads and cause them to become noisy and not perform as well.

It's also a good idea to regularly check your driveway, garage or parking spot for drops of fresh brake fluid which may indicate a leak, check the brake fluid level in the reservoir and also verify that the lug nuts are still tight.

Be sure to record the brake pad change in your SUV's service records.

For more, please check out all of my 2014-2018 Subaru Forester DIY Repair & Maintenance Guides.

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