Brake Caliper Sticking: Symptoms and Causes

A disc braking system contains brake pads, brake calipers, and brake discs. When you step on the brake pedal, the friction materials of the brake pads are squeezed against the spinning brake discs that are attached to the wheels. The components that allow this squeezing effect to occur are the brake calipers. After stepping on the brake pedal, the brake master cylinder’s brake fluid transmits hydraulic pressure to the brake caliper pistons. This causes the brake calipers to push the brake pads closer to the brake discs, resulting in the wheels slowing down. This, in turn, causes the vehicle to slow down because friction is created.

Brake calipers normally stay in good condition. In the times they do go bad, you may notice the calipers sticking a lot. This will not be a good situation for any driver who wants to remain safe. If you try to apply the brakes while you’re dealing with sticky brake calipers, then you will experience a delay in the braking. If it gets worse, you will have an inability to brake at all. For this reason, you need to understand the causes of a brake caliper sticking and then remedy the problem immediately.

Top 5 Causes of Brake Caliper Sticking

Below are the top 5 causes of a brake caliper sticking.

1) Brake Pads – Worn out brake pads can cause brake caliper sticking. In this situation, there is a lack of friction created after you step on the brake pedal. This increases the stickiness of the brake caliper.

2) Caliper Piston – The exterior of the piston is shielded by a rubber boot. If this rubber were to get damaged or torn, debris will find its way into the caliper and cause the piston to malfunction. This will result in a sticky brake caliper.

3) Brake Hose – A damaged brake hose influences the flow of brake fluid. After you step on the brake pedal and take your foot off it, the fluid may not reenter the brake master cylinder if the hose is in bad shape. Brake caliper stickiness will then follow.

4) Caliper Bolts – The rubber boots on the brake caliper bolts need to stay lubricated. Any torn rubber on the boots will reduce its lubrication, resulting in brake caliper stickiness.

5) Caliper Slides – Caliper slides are grooves which keep the brake pads secured properly. They also give them the ability to slide once you step on the brake pedal. But if there is a lot of dirt and debris in the grooves, then the brake pads won’t be able to slide anymore. This means the caliper will get stuck.

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Top 5 Symptoms of Brake Caliper Sticking

Below are the top 5 symptoms of a brake caliper sticking.

1) Brake Pedal Too Far Down – When you step on the brake pedal, it will move too close to the floor without much resistance. It may have trouble coming back up to its normal position as well.

2) Pulling – If you apply the brakes and notice the vehicle pulling too much to the right or left side, this is a clear sign of brake caliper stickiness. Of course, pulling can happen for other reasons too. But if it happens when you brake only, then it is likely because of the brake caliper.

3) Difficulty Stopping Vehicle – A sticky brake caliper makes it difficult to slow down or stop the vehicle. This is a symptom that you’ll surely notice immediately when you’re driving.

4) Brake Fluid Leak – Since a brake fluid leak causes brake caliper stickiness, you will know this is happening when you see a trail of brake fluid underneath your vehicle. Look in the rearview mirror as you’re driving and braking because you should see the trail of brake fluid behind you.

5) High Pitched Noises – Does braking cause high pitched noises to occur? If so, then you likely have brake caliper stickiness. However, have a mechanic inspect the braking system just to be sure it is not coming from somewhere else.

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