Paul's Travel Pictures

Subaru Outback Rear Brake Pads Replacement Guide
How to change the rear disc brake pads on a 6th generation 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018 Subaru Outback wagon.

Main Menu            Home           Digital Cameras

Misc. Pictures            Articles            My Blog

2017 Outback Rear Wheel
Loosen Counterclockwise
Raise Rear of Vehicle
This automotive maintenance tutorial was specifically written to assist owners of the sixth generation (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and probably also the face lifted 2019 and 2020 model years) Subaru Outback station wagon in changing the rear disc brake pads.

Owners of other Subaru vehicles such as the Forester, 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 sets of new rear brake pads with their part numbers are as follows: Power Stop Z23-1808, EBC Brakes UD1808, TRQ BFA78648, Beck Arnley 085-2004, AM Autoparts AM-2721397749 and Monroe GX1808.

The tools needed to complete this procedure include a floor jack, two jack stands, a lug nut wrench, a flathead screwdriver, a 7mm hex head wrench or a 7mm Allen Key, a Lisle 28600 brake piston tool (for vehicles with "screw-in" type rear pistons), a short extension bar, a 3/8" drive ratchet and a tube of synthetic Sil-Glyde silicone based brake caliper grease.

Note - If your Subaru has an electronic parking brake ("EPB"), it may be preferred to use an OBDII scan tool or "OBD2 scanner" such as the official Subaru Select Monitor to put the EPB into "brake maintenance mode" before servicing.

Once the EPB is in brake maintenance mode, disconnect the negative (ground) 12V battery cable. Retract the "screw-in" type piston as usual. When you are done changing the pads, use the SSM (Subaru Select Monitor) to exit brake maintenance mode.

The service manual also specifies that the Subaru Select Monitor may not be required. If the parking brake has NOT been set and is in the "Off / Retracted" mode, you could proceed as normal to gently and carefully rotate the "screw-in" type caliper pistons back in the clockwise direction to retract them. Disconnecting the negative 12V battery cable may also be a good idea. The full directions from the service manual are down below near the pictures of the caliper retraction procedure.

Proceed with caution and at your own risk!

Note - If your Outback has standard "push-in" type rear caliper pistons, you will need an "F" clamp to compress them back into place. Check out my Subaru Forester Rear Brake Pads Replacement Guide for more info on that procedure.

Spin Off Five Lug Nuts
Turn Counterclockwise
Five Lug Nuts Removed
The first two steps are to park the vehicle on a level surface and turn off the ignition.

Make sure the emergency / parking brake is NOT engaged.

(If the parking brake is engaged, you won't be able to remove the rear brake caliper from the bracket and off the old pads.)

To prevent the SUV from moving, place wheel chocks on both sides of the front wheels.

Carefully 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 in the counterclockwise direction and set them aside in a safe place.

Caliper, Bracket, Rotor
Rear Brake Caliper
Pry Off Spring Clip

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

There is a metal spring clip attached to the outer edge of the caliper.

Use a flathead screwdriver to carefully pry the clip off the caliper.

Please hold the spring clip with your other hand and also wear safety glasses to protect your eyes while you remove the spring clip.

The spring clip might fly off the caliper and possibly hit you in the face.

Metal Spring Clip Removed
Pull Off Black Plastic Cap
Bolt Covers Removed
Locate the two round black plastic bolt covers on the back side of the caliper.

Gently pry out the covers and set them aside in a safe place.

7mm Hex Key Bolt
Loosen Lower Caliper Bolt
Loosen Upper Caliper Bolt
The rear caliper is held in place by two hex bolts located on the back side of the caliper facing in towards the cargo area.

Use a 7mm hex key, a 7mm hex socket or a 7mm Allen wrench to loosen the bolts in the clockwise direction (as seen from the outside of the vehicle).

Push Out Top Bolt
Top Bolt / Pin Removed
Spin Out Bottom Bolt
Continue loosening the two caliper bolts in the clockwise direction (as seen from the outside of the SUV) until they can be pulled out of the caliper.

If the bolts are stuck in the caliper, use a flathead screwdriver to push them out.

The caliper bolts also act as the caliper slider pins "slide pins" or "guide bolts".

Push Out Lower Bolt
Two Caliper Bolts / Pins
Pull Off Rear Caliper
Set the two caliper bolts / slider pins aside in a safe place.

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

The Outback is equipped with "screw-in" type rear caliper pistons that will require a special tool such as the Lisle 28600 disc brake caliper piston tool to turn or "retract" them back into the caliper.

Rest the caliper on the rear lower control arm behind the rotor.

Remove Outer Brake Pad
Wear Bar - Bottom Inner Pad
Brake Caliper Piston Tool
Pull the old outer brake pad out of the caliper.

Remove the old inner brake pad from the bracket by the rotor.

Make a mental note of where the wear indicator bar or "squeal" bar is situated on the old brake pads.

On this 2017 Outback, the wear indicator bar was situated at the bottom of the inner brake pad.

In order for the caliper to fit over the thicker new brake pads, you will need to turn back the caliper piston.

Proceed with caution and at your own risk!

Attention: If your Outback is equipped with an electronic parking brake or "EPB" here is the Subaru service manual procedure for replacing the rear brake pads if you do NOT have the Subaru Select Monitor (SSM) computer device to enable "Parking Brake Maintenance Mode".

"1. Release the parking brake.
2. Disconnect the ground (negative "-") terminal from the battery sensor.
Perform the following replacement procedure if the Subaru Select Monitor cannot be used.
1. Remove the disc brake assembly and the pad - disc brake rear.
2. Remove the bolt securing the lower side of the support - rear disc brake, loosen the upper side bolt, and then slide the support - rear disc brake upward and hold it.
3. Secure the disc brake assembly as shown in the figure, and push back the piston using the tool.
Install the pad - disc brake rear.
4. Install the support - rear disc brake and the disc brake assembly to the specified tightening torque.

Connect the ground terminal to battery sensor.

After the operation is completed, apply and release the parking brake five times and ensure that the brake operates normally."

Paul's Notes - In the service manual picture it looks like they are using a standard "F" clamp to push back the piston.

I omitted the steps that involved the SSM (Subaru Select Monitor). Basically, as long as the electric parking brake is OFF and you disconnect the negative "-" terminal on the 12V car battery, you should have no problem pushing back the rear caliper piston. I used my disc brake piston tool to rotate and push back the piston which seemed to work as well. If you encounter any resistance, do not force in the piston. Consult with your dealership or a qualified automotive technician.

I recommend moving to the engine bay and twisting off the cap on the brake fluid reservoir to make it easier for the fluid to travel back through the lines while you retract the screw-in caliper piston. Then replace the cap as soon as you are done since brake fluid is hygroscopic (absorbs moisture from the air).

Side With 2 Rounded Pegs
Retract Rear Caliper Piston
Wear Bar Bottom Inner Pad
Test fit the various sides of your disc brake piston tool to find the side that has the best grip on the caliper piston.

I found that the side with the two partially rounded pegs or "nubs" was the best fit.

If necessary, you may be able to use a pair of needle nose pliers to turn back the piston.

Attach the Lisle 28600 disc brake piston tool to a short extension bar and a 3/8" drive ratchet.

Push the piston tool against the piston and rotate it in the clockwise direction to retract it back into the caliper body.

Continue retracting the piston until it is just about flush with the rubber dust boot that surrounds it.

If you have trouble turning back the rear brake caliper piston, you may need to use a brake piston retraction tool kit that will help you apply pressure (compression) while also twisting the piston in the clockwise direction.

Warning - The following "updates" are information that was sent to me by other Subaru Outback owners. I have not done these procedures myself. Proceed with caution and at your own risk.

Update - I've been told by another Outback owner that you may need to disconnect the power plug for the electronic parking brake (EPB) and then push in the piston a bit by hand. Then you can use the Lisle 28600 or another disc brake piston tool to turn the caliper back into place.

Update - Another Outback owner has mentioned an optional procedure of loosening the two hex / Allen bolts on the back of the EPB electric motor. Then rotate the exposed shaft of the EPB motor in the clockwise direction to retract it. Once this is complete, proceed with rotating back the screw-in type caliper piston with the brake piston tool.

A different Outback owner has reported to me that his parking brake became stuck in the activated position after retracting the pistons using the methods above that were sent to me by other Outback owners.

Please see the information further up the page about the procedure in the service manual.


Install New Outer Pad
Push Pads Against Rotor
Lower Caliper Over Pads

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 may be carcinogenic (cancer causing) if inhaled.

Update - Do NOT apply lubricant to the caliper piston. Here is the information from the service manual -

"As the [rear caliper] piston moves towards the inner brake pad, the serrations machined into the outer face of the piston bite into the inner brake pad shim (permanently mounted to the brake pad) to prevent the piston from rotating when mechanical force begins to increase. Do not lubricate or apply any anti-seize paste to this area."

Apply a thin layer of brake parts lubricant grease to any area where there is metal to metal contact (except for the caliper piston - see above) such as the the pad abutment clips and the bracket. Do not apply brake caliper grease to the friction surface of the new pads or the rotor.

 If your Outback previously exhibited shuddering, pulsations, or vibrations in the rear end during braking, you may need to have your rotors "turned" (resurfaced) or just replace them with new rotors. If this is the first rear brake job on your wagon 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 14mm 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 14mm rear brake caliper bracket bolts service manual torque specification is 48.7 lb-ft.

(The service manual specifies the rear brake torque values as follows: caliper 19.9 lb-ft, bracket 48.7 lb-ft and bleeder valve 5.9 lb-ft.)

Lubricate Slider Pins
Spin In Caliper Bolts / Pins
Tighten Counterclockwise
In order for the caliper to operate smoothly, the two caliper slider pins / bolts need to be well lubricated.

Apply a thin layer of brake caliper grease to the smooth parts of both slider pins.

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

(Do not use petroleum based brake grease since it can cause the rubber parts such as the rubber dust boot to swell.)

(I used CRC synthetic brake caliper grease which is also supposed to be plastic and rubber safe.)

(Do not apply grease to the threads on the bolt.)

Spin in the two caliper bolts / pins in the counterclockwise direction (as seen from the outside of the SUV).

Replace Top Bolt / Pin
Torque Caliper Bolts
Re-Attach Spring Clip
Tighten the two caliper bolts to just past hand tight or about 20 lb-ft of torque.

If you have a torque wrench with a 7mm hex head socket, the service manual caliper bolt torque specification is 19.9 lb-ft.

Double check that both of the bolts are tight before moving on to the next steps.

Carefully re-attach the metal spring clip to the outer face of the caliper.

Spring Clip Secured
Replace Dust Cap
Push In Black Plastic Cover
Push the two round black plastic bolt caps back into the rubber dust boots.
Rubber Valve Cap
Brake Fluid Bleeder Valve
Rear Caliper Secured

If your Outback's brake pedal has been feeling soft or spongy, the brake fluid might be contaminated with some 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 valve cap on the back side of the caliper just below the top caliper bolt.

Push On Rear Wheel
Spin On Five Lug Nuts
Slightly Tighten Lug Nuts
Push the rear wheel back into place over the lug studs.

Spin on the five lug nuts in the clockwise direction a few turns by hand 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 To 88.5 lb-ft
Rear 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 88.5 lb-ft of torque.

(If you disconnected the battery, re-attach the negative cable.)

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 rear brake pads, just try to drive normally for the first few hundred miles while avoiding any hard or "panic" stops which might glaze over the new pads and cause them to become noisy or 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 might indicate a leak, check the brake fluid level in the reservoir and also verify that the lug nuts are still tight.

If your SUV has an EPB (electronic parking brake), the service manual recommends that you engage and disengage the EPB parking brake several times to make sure it is working properly.

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

For more, please check out all of my 2015-2018 Subaru Outback DIY Repair & Maintenance Guides.

If you found this guide to be helpful, please consider making a small donation by clicking on the "Donate" button located to the right of this paragraph. Thank you!
(Note: I am not a registered charity. Donations are not tax deductible.)

Main Menu       Home       Digital Cameras

Misc. Pictures       Articles       My Blog


Copyright 2022
 All Rights Reserved

Paul's Travel Pictures is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Privacy Policy     About Paul & Author Contact Info