Brakes are the most important safety feature on your vehicle, so it’s important to know what causes brake calipers to stick. Learn what causes brake calipers to stick and how to fix them.
The caliper is the part of the brake that houses the pads and presses them against the rotor to create friction and stop the wheel from turning. If the caliper sticks, it can cause the pads to wear out prematurely or even catch on fire.
A few different things can cause a brake caliper to stick, but the most common culprit is dirt and debris build-up. Over time, small particles can work their way into the caliper piston and cause it to stick. This can happen even if you clean your brakes regularly.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what causes brake calipers to stick and how you can prevent it from happening.
Causes of a Sticking Brake Caliper
The following are some of the most common causes of a sticking brake caliper:
1. Rusty Caliper Pistons & Piston Boot
If you live in an area with a lot of salt on the roads (for example, if you live near the ocean), your brake caliper pistons may be more susceptible to rust. Or if you continuously drive in wet conditions, your pistons’ boots may also be more likely to rust. When rusty, the pistons and piston boot can begin to stick, making it difficult for the caliper to move.
2. Rusty & Stuck Brake pads
Another common cause of a sticking brake caliper is rust on the brake pads. When the brake pads become rusty, they can start to stick to the caliper, making it difficult for the caliper to move. This happens more often in areas with a lot of salt or moisture on the roads.
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3. Dirty Caliper Guide Pin
If the caliper guide pin boots are dirty or damaged, they may not be able to properly seal the guide pins. This can allow dirt and water to enter the guide pin area and cause the guide pins to stick. Once dirt and water get into the area, they can also rust the guide pins, making them even more difficult to move.
4. Parking Brake Steel Cables
Your handbrake (or parking brake) may be sticking due to rust on the steel cables. When rust builds up on the cables, it can cause excessive friction as the cables move through the housing and calipers. This can make it difficult to release the parking brake, or even cause the caliper to stick.
5. Broken brake hose
A broken brake hose can also cause the caliper to stick. If the hose is damaged, it may not be able to properly hold the fluid inside, causing it to leak out. This can make it difficult for the caliper to move and may even cause it to seize up completely.
6. Dirty or Old Brake Fluid
If the brake fluid is dirty or old, it may begin to gum up the caliper pistons and other moving parts. This can make it difficult for the caliper to move and may even cause it to seize up completely.
Also Read: Why are my Brakes Sticking
4 Symptoms of a Stuck or Frozen Brake Caliper
You may be wondering, how will I know if my brake caliper is sticking or frozen? Here are four common symptoms of a stuck or frozen brake caliper:
1. Vehicle Pulls to One Side
If your brake caliper is sticking, it may cause your vehicle to pull to one side when you brake. This happens because the stuck caliper is not applying the brakes evenly, causing the vehicle to pull to one specific side with the less-applied brakes on the opposite side of which the vehicle is being pulled towards.
2. Car Slows Itself Down
If you notice that your car seems to be slowing down unevenly, it could be a sign that one of your brake calipers is sticking. This happens because the stuck caliper is not releasing properly, causing the brakes on that side to drag. This can cause the vehicle to slow down unevenly, with the side dragging brakes slowing down more than the other side.
3. Bad Gas Mileage
If you notice that your gas mileage has decreased significantly, it could be a sign that one of your brake calipers is sticking. When the caliper sticks, it causes the brakes to drag, putting extra strain on the engine. This can cause the engine to work harder, leading to decreased gas mileage.
4. Excess Heat from Wheel
If you notice that your wheel is excessively hot, it could be a sign that the brake caliper is sticking. When the caliper sticks, it causes the brakes to drag, which can create a lot of heat. This heat can build up and cause the wheel to become excessively hot.
How Do You Fix a Sticking Brake Caliper?
In order to fix a sticking brake caliper, you will need to:
1. Clean the area around the caliper.
2. Remove the stuck caliper.
3. Clean the caliper pistons and piston boot.
4. Lubricate the caliper pistons and guide pins.
5. Reinstall the caliper.
6. Bleed the brakes.
7. Test drive the vehicle.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to take your vehicle to a mechanic or dealership as soon as possible to have it checked out and repaired if necessary. Driving with a sticking brake caliper can be dangerous and can lead to further damage to your vehicle.
How To Avoid a Sticking Brake Caliper
To avoid a sticking brake caliper, you should:
- Check your brake fluid level regularly and top it off as needed
- Have your brakes checked regularly by a mechanic or dealership
- Clean the area around your calipers periodically to prevent dirt and grime from building up
- Be sure to lubricate your caliper pistons and guide pins regularly
- Do not wait until you notice symptoms of a stuck caliper to take your vehicle in for service, as this can lead to further damage.
A sticking brake caliper can be dangerous and can lead to further damage to your vehicle. Be sure to take your vehicle in for service as soon as you notice any of the symptoms listed above. Taking these precautions will help you avoid a sticking brake caliper and keep your vehicle running smoothly.
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