The brakes are the life support of your vehicle and they allow you to stop while you’re driving at high speeds. If your breaks aren’t working properly, then you’re going to have issues when you’re trying to stop the vehicle. Brakes consist of brake calipers and they’re attached to the rotors on the car’s wheels. When the brakes are applied, the calipers will squeeze tightly on the wheel and this will allow the vehicle to come to a halt. Over time, the brake pads can wear out and this means the braking function on your vehicle is weaker making it harder to stop.
How Brake Calipers Work
The function of the brake is to bring the vehicle to a slight stop or a complete stop. When you’re accelerating, you can press on the brake pedal and the hydraulic system will allow brake fluid to flow to the calipers and this will cause the brake pads to clamp onto the rotors. On some vehicles, to stop faster, brake boosters are used, and this assists the driver more when they’re trying to brake. Other vehicles have an ABS and TCS system that assists the driver when it comes to bringing the vehicle to a stop.
The ABS consist of a bunch of sensors that are used to identify the speed and the rate that the wheels are moving at. When the vehicle is in bad weather, then ABS is applied so that the more brake pressure is supplied to the wheels. The ABS works with the car’s computer and the TCS to help prevent the vehicle from slipping when driving in wet conditions. The handbrake on the car stops the vehicle from grinding to a complete halt. In some cases, the handbrake can be used to the vehicle when the brakes stop working.
When braking, mainly the front brake is used, and the rear brake is assisting. This means that the front brake will wear down at a faster rather than the rear brake. They both need to be replaced at the same time because they both work together – you shouldn’t be replacing the font brake and leaving the back on. When the brakes are applied. The force is shifted forwards, and this engages the front brake more.
Since there’s more pressure on the front brakes, you’ll find drum brakes on the rear and disc brakes on the front – disk brakes are better at stopping the vehicle. Some vehicles consist on disc brakes in the rear and the back and this usually signifies that the car is high performance. On some vehicles, the brakes lock when you’re speeding to help the car skid – this can be a problem because it means you lose control behind the wheel – this is why manufacturers are choosing to invest in complex braking systems that don’t lock.
What Causes Brake Caliper to Stick
There are a few things that can cause the brake caliper to stick. Maintaining these areas of your vehicle will prevent them from braking which means the brake caliper will remain unaffected.
Caliper Slide – there are groves in the calipers that house the brake pads and as the brakes are applied, the brake pads slide into the groves. When the brake is released again, the brake pad slides out of the groove. Sometimes when you go to release the brakes again, they get stuck in the grooves or they can get corroded over time. This means that the brake pads aren’t able to slide out of the groves correctly and this can cause the calipers to stick.
If you notice that the brake calipers are sticking, then you’ll need to replace the brakes because you need new calipers. Calipers are meant to house the groves and if the grooves aren’t allowing the brake pads to come out when the brake is released, it’ll need to be replaced. If you’ve had your vehicle for some time, then it’s normal for the grooves to get worn out.
Caliper Bolts – in the calipers, there are bolts and for them to function properly, they need to stay lubricated. There are rubber boots on the caliper bolts to keep the lubrication in place but sometimes they’re accidentally torn. In most cases, this happens when a mechanic is trying to install new brake pads. This will cause the brakes to lose their lubrication meaning that they start to dry out. When this happens, dust and debris start to build up which means that the brakes may no longer slide like they use to.
This can cause the brakes to start sticking. To fix this, you’ll need to get the bolts replaced or reconditioned – this will require them to be taken out and for new bolts to be installed. Sometimes the bolts can break off and this happens when they’ve been over tightened. This is why it’s important to go to a reputable dealership when taking your vehicle got repairs.
Caliper Pistons – There’s a rubber boot around the pistons and this is meant to lubricate and seal the pistons. If the boot is torn, then rust and debris can build up inside the caliper meaning that the piston will no longer run smoothly. This usually happens when a mechanic is trying to replace the brake pads and the boot was torn when retracting the piston back into the caliper – this can cause the brake caliper to stick. If this is the case, you’re in, then the brake caliper assembly will need to be replaced.
Brake Hose – if the brake hose has worn out, then this can cause the brake calipers to stick. Sometimes when the brake hose brakes off, a small piece of it is still attached to the main part of the host. When this happens, the brake fluid can only go one way creating some sort of valve. When the brakes are applied then the fluid can go past the brake pistons and cause the brakes to engine slowing down the vehicle. But since the fluid can only go one way, once the brakes are disengaged, then the brake fluid can’t return back to the cylinder and this can cause the brake caliper to stick and make the vehicle pull to one side. To fix this, the brake hose will need to be replaced.
Poor Maintenance – if the brake system hasn’t been maintained, this can cause the brake calipers to stick. Maintaining your brakes should be part of your routine maintenance and not doing so can cause you brake problems like the one you’re experiencing now. If you’re not looking after your brakes, it’s very easy for them to wear out and this can be very expensive when looking to replace components at the dealership.
If you want to avoid brake problems or other issues and save $100s of dollars that you’ll spend at the dealership, you’ll need to service your vehicle often – you can use our mechanic-rated routine maintenance service manual to do this. It’s basically what mechanics use to go through your vehicle to check if there are any problems that need fixing. As soon as they notice the most minor problem, they’ll ask you to fork out some money even though it’s a problem you can fix yourself in a few minutes – the manual will teach you how to maintain your vehicle every few thousand miles and it’ll teach you how to fix minor problems that mechanics will ask you to pay for; saving you money in the long run.
A lot of our readers have this maintenance manual printed on their garage walls and a lot of them haven’t visited the mechanic in a few years because they know what to do to avoid problems. All it takes is giving your vehicle a little attention every few thousand miles and you’ll never spend money at the dealership again.
Signs that the Brake System is Failing
If you think that the brakes are sticking, then there are a few symptoms that you should notice in your vehicle that’ll allow you to see this. When you notice one of these symptoms, it should be something to be concerned about but if you notice a collection of these symptoms, then it looks like you’ll need to get your brake calipers replaced.
If you want to know for sure that there’s a problem with your brake system, then you should use a professional OBD2 diagnostics tool (View on Amazon). When there’s a problem with your brakes, signals are sent to a diagnostics unit, and this stores an error code for the brakes. These error codes can be read by an OBD2 scanner and a professional one will let you know what the errors mean. A standard one, on the other hand, may even misdiagnose and this can force you head down to the mechanic when there’s nothing wrong with your vehicle. Once you’ve found out if there’s a problem with the brakes after using the OBD2 scanner, you can either try and fix it yourself or head down to the mechanic.
Vehicle Pulls to Once Side – if you notice that your vehicle is pulling to one side, this is a sign that the brakes calipers are stuck. When the brake calipers are stuck, they can cause the vehicle to pull to the side that has the stuck caliper. This doesn’t happen when the brakes aren’t being engaged, it happens when you’re driving. If you continue to drive when the vehicle is leaning to one side, this can be dangerous, and you’ll need to head down to the mechanic to get the problem fixed.
Car Slows down itself – if you notice that your car is slowing down itself, this could be a sign that the brake calipers are sticking. When the brake pads are making constant contact with the brake rotors, it makes it feel like you’re braking even when you’re not engaging the brake pedal. In turn, the brake pad material can create a high pitched or grinding noise after the brake pad is used up.
Brake Pedal staying down – if you notice that the brake pedal is staying down when you engage it, this should be concerning. When letting go of the brake, they should immediately come back up because the hydraulic fluid should go back into the reservoir. If there’s a problem with the brake system, this can cause the calipers to stay down when you let go of it.
Car shifting fast when braking – if you notice that the vehicle is shifting fast when you’re trying to brake, then it’s a sign that you need new calipers. The car might shift to the left or right when you press down the brake pedal. This is a sign that there’s a problem wither the calipers, pistons, bolts, hose, or slides and you’ll need to get them replaced immediately.
Brake fluid Leakages – if you notice that the brake fluid is leaking, then this is a sign that there’s a problem with the brake system. A vehicle that has leaking brake fluid shouldn’t be driven because it means that you don’t have properly functioning brakes. Hydraulic fluid needs to remain in the system and if not, the brake will start to malfunction. To tell if the brake fluid has been leaking, you should check under your vehicle to see if there’s a pool of brake fluid. If you notice some brake fluid, you’ll need to head down the mechanic immediately because you’re more likely to end up in a road accident.
Can’t Stop Car – if you’re unable to stop your car, this is a clear sign that you have faulty brakes. Properly functioning brakes should be able to stop the car when the brake pedal is being pressed down. If your brakes pads are worn out, this can prevent them from stopping the car.
Grinding – if you head grinding noise, this can be a sign that the brake calipers are sticking. This can sound high pitched and it can also happen when the pads are worn out. A thin sheet under the pads could be coming into contact with the rotors causing the high-pitched noise. This is a very prominent noise so you should be able to hear it when trying to engage the brakes.