A vehicle would not be able to stop without a functioning brake caliper. Each wheel of your vehicle has a caliper and rotor in it. The rotors all spin as the vehicle is moving. When you want to slow down your vehicle, you press on the brake pedal which causes the brake calipers and its brake pads to produce friction along with the rotors.
It is very rare that you will have a brake caliper sticking but it does happen. If it is happening to your vehicle, it is important that you understand the symptoms to look out for and their probable causes. That way, you can take your vehicle to the nearest mechanic and have them fix or replace your brake caliper right away (or do it yourself).
Common Sticking Brake Caliper Symptoms
Below are five of the most common symptoms of brake caliper stickiness.
1. Car Pulling to the Side
This is one of the most common symptoms of a sticky brake caliper. If you notice your vehicle pulling too far to the right or too far to the left, then replace your brake caliper immediately.
2. Brake Pedal Stays Down
Another common symptom of brake caliper sticking is when the brake pedal stays down after you’ve taken your foot off it. The brake pedal will eventually come back up but it will likely take a few seconds.
3. Brake Fluid Leakage
One easy symptom to lookout for is when you have brake fluid leaking from your vehicle. If you check under your vehicle, around your wheels, or notice a trail of fluid coming out as you’re slowing down on the road, then you could possibly have a leak causing your brake caliper to stick.
4. High Pitched Sounds
You will notice problems with the brake caliper right away when you start hearing these high-pitched sounds occurring while applying pressure to the brake pedal. This could mean the caliper is sticking or some other caliper problem too.
5. Hard to Stop Vehicle
The brake caliper depends on the proper amount of brake fluid pressure to slow the vehicle down. If you have brake fluid that is leaking from your vehicle, then it will be hard to stop the vehicle. Furthermore, it will make the brake caliper sticky as well.
Common Causes of Sticky Brake Calipers
Here are the top 5 causes of a brake caliper sticking.
1. Caliper Bolts
There are slides on the brake caliper bolts which must always be lubricated. Each bolt has a rubber boot which maintains their lubrication. If this rubber is torn, it could lead to less lubrication and soon cause stickiness with the brake caliper.
2. Caliper Slides
The caliper has grooves which secure the brake pads in place and allow the pads to slide inward after you put your foot on the brake pedal.
However, there are shims on the brake pads which can get caught in these grooves from built up debris that may be there. This will make the brake pads unable to slide, causing caliper sticking.
3. Brake Hose
Brake hoses eventually get worn out and then break apart inside. This will direct the brake fluid to possibly flow one way only after you apply pressure to the brake pedal.
If that happens, the fluid can’t get back into the master cylinder after you take your foot off the brake pedal. The result is brake caliper stickiness.
4. Caliper Piston
A rubber boot protects the piston on the outside. Often times, when people get their brake pads replaced, the mechanic will accidentally tear the rubber of the pistons.
This will cause debris and residue to get piled up inside of the caliper which ultimately affects the functionality of the piston.
5. Brake Pads
If you don’t replace your brake pads soon enough, they are going to get worn out. Then your caliper won’t be able to create the necessary friction against the rotor, causing extreme stickiness in the caliper.