Top 10 Seized Brake Caliper Symptoms and How to Fix it

TOP 10 SEIZED BRAKE CALIPER SYMPTOMS – Vehicle brakes are one of the most essential parts of a car and they play a very crucial role in ensuring that the passengers and driver are safe alongside anyone else out there on the road.

A vehicle can’t just decelerate or come to a halt if the brake calipers are not functioning properly. However, this nature of the brake system using calipers is only applicable to the disc braking system.

Generally, the car braking system is of two types, namely, the disc and the drum braking system. The drum braking system doesn’t make use of calipers, while the disc braking system does. Hence, this article focuses on the disc braking system that uses calipers.

The brake system of a car works well when every component of the car’s brake system works perfectly as it should. The components of a car’s brake system include the brake pads, fluid, rotors, and calipers.

Brake calipers anchor the braking system. They clamp the brake pads in a car against the brake rotors. As pressure is being applied, adhesive forces and friction convert the kinetic energy of the rotating rotor into thermal energy, which in turn slows down the car.

A vehicle wouldn’t come to a stop in the way it should be without working brake calipers. On vehicles with disc brakes installed on all four sides, each of the wheels will have a caliper and rotor mounted behind it.

The brake rotors are placed on the wheel hub so they can rotate while the wheels spin.

The seized brake caliper symptoms that you may experience depend on the braking system of your vehicle. In other words, every car has its own setup when it comes to the braking system. As such, the seized brake caliper symptoms tend to be different for different cars.

Regardless, it’s certain your car would experience one or more of the seized brake caliper symptoms discussed in this article.

7 Seized Brake Caliper Symptoms + Fixes

Strange sounds from car parts

Sometimes, faulty brake calipers may be responsible for the squealing noise or metallic rubbing sound in a car.

The noise may come from any part of the car wheels. Worn-out brake pads can also generate noise, but this occurs mostly when the brake pedal is applied.

Bad brake calipers can still create noise even if you do not make use of the brakes.

This could be one of seized brake caliper symptoms and when diagnosing brake caliper issues, a squealing or metallic rubbing noise should be taken into consideration.

Poor fuel economy

A constant unintentional breaking triggered by a bad caliper that won’t allow the car to run smoothly would ultimately cause the engine to work more and, in the process, consume more fuel.

Although other things may cause your engine to consume more fuel, a faulty brake caliper should be one of the things you look into when checking why your car may be consuming more fuel than usual.

The car may pull to the side when the brake is applied

A car pulling to the side whenever the brake is applied could be one of seized brake caliper symptoms trying to draw the attention of the driver.

Usually, the car pulls to the side of the faulty brake caliper if it is just one that is a problem. The situation may appear like your wheel isn’t aligned, so you will have to struggle to keep the car going in the direction that it should.

Your car ought to go straight naturally and it’s very unsafe to drive a car that would inadvertently pull to the side when you apply the brake. You may be posing a great threat to every other person around you including yourself.

It is safer to have the affected car towed to the nearest auto repair shop.

The dashboard warning light turns on

As you already know, sensors are built into cars to detect when there are problems.

A seized brake caliper will trigger the brake system warning light on the dashboard. It’s advised that you get your mechanic to run a check.

Your car slows down on its accord

One of the symptoms of a seized brake caliper is the frequently slowing down of your car on its own.

It will cause the brake pads to always come in close contact with the brake rotors. As a result, your vehicle would from time to time apply the brakes on its own [even when you are not matching on the brake pedal].

Hence, when you start having such experience, you need to run a check on the braking system of your car, and if the brake calipers are seized or stuck, try replacing the caliper or applying a recommended oil to un-stuck them.

A noticeable amount of heat coming out from the wheels

If a stuck or seized brake calipers continuously apply the brake pad while you keep driving the car without knowing, it causes friction which in turn generates heat. On excessive usage of the car, it gets even extremely hot.

Thus, if you suspect your car is having a seized brake caliper. Walk around it while observing, hovering, or placing your hand near each of the wheels. If you sense extreme hotness or obvious signs like a burning smell coming from any of the wheels, you are likely having a seized brake caliper. Take the car in.

Brake fluid leakage

Brake fluid hardly dries up. They are seldom topped as they go down slowly.

However, when you start noticing brake fluid leakage, then you probably have faulty brake calipers.

This is because the brake fluid is meant to lubricate the brake calipers. In a normal condition, the caliper controls the brake fluid to ensure there are no leakages. But once the caliper becomes bad, it can’t control the brake fluid again and as a result, the fluid begins to leak from the wheel area.

The brake pedal doesn’t release on time

You have just applied the brakes, and your foot is no longer on the pedal yet it stays stuck for more seconds before being fully released.

There is a high chance that your brake caliper is bad and needs replacement.

Reduced braking power

If there is a brake fluid leakage in your car and your brake caliper is damaged at the same time, don’t be so surprised when you start experiencing a degradation in the functionality of your braking system.

As a result, it makes your car difficult to decelerate.

The braking power simply becomes reduced.

Seized Brake Caliper Symptoms

Causes of Seized Brake Calipers

Now that you’ve known the top symptoms of a seized brake caliper, we’ll briefly discuss the various causes of a seized brake caliper.

Here are some of the causes of seized brake calipers.

Caliper Bolts

The slides on brake caliper bolts must remain lubricated. When it’s not, the rubber gets torn and can lead to a seized brake caliper.

Brake Hose

Brake hoses can get worn out and eventually break apart. This will cause the brake fluid to flow one way when you apply pressure on the brake.

When this happens, the fluid will find it difficult to flow back into the master cylinder after you have taken your foot off the pedal. The end result of such occurrence is a seized brake caliper.

Caliper Piston

An unfit piston in the caliper housing may cause piston binding when the brake pedal is released.

This occurs in low-quality calipers and it can damage the brake calipers.

Brake Pads

Infrequent replacement of brake pads leads to worn-out brake pads.

A worn-out brake pad can’t give the needed friction between the rotor and the caliper. This causes the brake caliper to become stuck.

How to fix a seized brake caliper

The following tips can help you manage your brake calipers.

  • Go for a regular vehicle checkup.
  • Don’t apply any form of Do-It-Yourself when it comes to repairing your car except you know exactly what you are doing.
  • Always hire an expert mechanic to fix your car, especially one who specializes in car braking systems when you have issues related to a failing brake.
  • Replace brake pads, rotors, and calipers when due.
  • To rectify a seized brake caliper, first, confirm the cause of the problem.

Should You Replace or Re-Work Your Bad Caliper?

What do you think should be the best option here: replace or re-work a bad caliper?

The bad caliper, if it was as a result of the slide pins or caliper piston is most likely going to seize again or get stuck.

Remember, the primary cause of a faulty caliper is corrosion. Hence, regardless of how you try to re-work it, it’s going to get corroded again.

The best option at this point is to replace the bad caliper. This appears to be the wisest option.

However, you can choose to re-build the unit. The process involves disassembling and wiping off the rust and also replacing the rubber parts and pistons (where necessary). Where corrosion seems quite bad, consider replacing the caliper.

Conclusion

The problem with seized brakes usually happens as a result of corrosion, or parking the car for a prolonged period. If you plan to park your car for a longer period, then you’d have to make plans on how you’d be servicing it. One way to manage your mechanical parts is to lubricate moving parts. This should be done periodically. Once in a while, you can choose to do away with all your brake fluid within the system as they are likely to absorb water, which may cause the unit to start rusting from within.

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