Brake Caliper Sticking When Hot (Symptoms, Causes & Fixes)

April 28, 2022

Repairing the stuck brake caliper.

One of the most important factors to consider when determining vehicle quality and dependability is safety in the automotive industry. Brakes come to mind when discussing safety since they are the component that causes your vehicle to go to a complete halt.

When it comes to brakes, how swiftly and smoothly the vehicle comes to a stop when you depress the brake pedal defines good brakes apart from poor ones. While a brake caliper sticks when it is hot, it may cause some issues with the brakes. Damage to the vehicle and safety concerns for the passengers are both possible outcomes of this action.

Sticking brake calipers have various causes, symptoms, and fixes. In this article, we’ll go through each one so you can get your braking power back to normal.

What Could Be Causing a Brake Caliper to Stick?

We should start by identifying why brake caliper stick? By pressing the brake pedal, brake oil is delivered into the brake caliper, where a brake pad is held in place by the brake caliper. Once the compressed oil is injected into a brake caliper, it pushes the caliper piston into the brake pad, causing it to make contact with the braking rotor. Your car comes to a halt due to the high level of friction between the brake pad and the rotor. 

Normally, when the brakes are in good shape, this will only occur during daily operations. If your brake caliper is sticking, even when you’re not using the brakes, the brake pad is constantly in contact with the braking rotor. What causes this to occur? It might lead to the occurrence of a variety of factors. Instead of delving into the root of the problem, let’s focus on finding out the symptoms.

Brake Caliper Piston

It has a rubber boot attached to the end to keep the caliper piston lubricated and free of dirt and dust. The dust boot may be torn if a replacement brake pad is installed poorly or by an inexperienced technician. It causes dust to adhere to the caliper piston, allowing it to remain fully open. It means that you cannot replace the brake and caliper piston since it is stuck to the braking pad there instead.

Brake Hose

Wear and dryness contribute to cracking in brake hoses that transmit oil to brake calipers, and it will be forced through the pistons, causing them to stick. Brand-new stop-caliper sticking after installation may be caused by faulty brake hoses.

Sticky Caliper Bolts 

Whenever you apply pressure to your brake pedal, those bolts move against the rotor. Since they’re not constantly lubricated, these bolts may get sticky and even dry when not properly cared for. The bolts feature a lubricant-trapping rubber layer that is readily pulled off. It may also occur during the process of replacing brake pads.

As soon as the bolt dries out, it will get clogged with dirt and corrosion, and chances are high to slip whenever the brakes are applied. Bolts may be cleaned or replaced if they’re worn out. Overtightening the bolts may cause them to break off entirely in some cases.

Brake Caliper Slides

Whenever a brake caliper becomes stuck, this is a commonplace occurrence. If the brake line is rusted, the caliper will slip out of place. As soon as you press the brake pedal, a brake pad slips into a groove on each caliper. The release of the brake pedal causes the brake pad to reposition itself in the grooves. If there is rust or debris build-up in the grooves or on the brake pads, issues occur. With this, you can’t get your foot off of the brake pedal without slipping the brake pad back into its grooves.

Brake Pads

Your brake pads will inevitably get worn out if you do not replace them on time. So your caliper will be unable to generate enough friction against your rotor, which will result in it being very sticky.

Torn Piston Boot

Aspects of your car that collect dirt include its wheels, tires, and brakes. Dust, dirt, and debris may penetrate the piston housing when the caliper piston boot is damaged or torn. After that, the debris will cause severe wear on your caliper’s internal components by rubbing against the piston and its housing. At some point, his may cause the piston to move abnormally. The piston may get stuck within the housing.

Abrasive Corrosion

Slide pins and pistons in the calipers may rust and get trapped in one place. Generally, this happens faster in areas where the road is predisposed to rust, such as places that salt their roads throughout the winter.

What Are the Symptoms That Your Caliper Is Sticking?

There are symptoms for every problem, and these indicators assist you in spotting the issue. It is possible to identify brake caliper sticking by looking for the following conspicuous signs:

Vehicles Pull To One Side

It is one of the most blatant signs of a stuck brake caliper. Whether or not one side of the brakes is stuck, the car will always pull to the side with the stuck brakes. It’s similar to having your wheels misaligned, but you’ll differ its differences.

Leakage of Brake Fluid

When your vehicle’s brake fluid leaks, it is an obvious sign to check for. A leak in your braking system may be the reason your brake caliper sticks, so be sure to look beneath your car, around your wheels, and look for any fluid leaks while driving.

High Pitched Sounds

Problems with the brake caliper will become apparent the moment you hear these high-pitched noises when pressing on the brake pedal. Depending on the circumstances, this may indicate the caliper is stuck or has some other issue entirely.

High Pitched Sounds

Problems with the brake caliper will become apparent the moment you hear these high-pitched noises when pressing on the brake pedal. Depending on the circumstances, this may indicate the caliper is stuck or has some other issue entirely.

High Fuel Consumption

One potential reason for high fuel consumption in your vehicle is stuck brake calipers. Due to frequent braking and keeping the car moving at a constant pace, the engine must work harder, which will lead to the amount of fuel used rising.

Excess Heat Generated By The Wheels

It is the brake pad that makes contact with the rotor when you apply pressure to the pedal. As a consequence of the friction created by this contact, the vehicle slows down. It is considering that this process generates heat, and it will lead the brake caliper to become stuck to the rotor. A large amount of heat is produced when the brake caliper becomes stuck to the rotor, and you can feel it in the wheels due to this friction. Be cautious not to come into contact with the wheels.

Car Slows Down On Its Own

Brake pads are constantly in touch with rotors when you have sticky brakes on your vehicle. As a result, the car is continuously braking even when the brake pedal is not down, and the vehicle will automatically begin to slow down as it applies the brakes. It will cause the brake pads and rotors to wear down quicker. You may detect this symptom since you may hear some sticky sounds coming from the brake calipers.

Burning Smell

The brakes may need to be checked if you detect smoke or an unpleasant burning smell emanating from one of the wheels. It may lead to an excessive quantity of heat being generated because of the brake caliper being jammed. If the brake pads become overheated, they will melt, and one wheel will get substantially heat at the rest of the wheels. In severe instances, this may even result in the ignition of a fire. Overheating causes the rotor to take on a blue hue, which is visible in many cases.

You should consider replacing the rotors and brake pads, as well as flushing the brake fluid if you have experienced overheating of your brakes. When brake components are subjected to higher temperatures than they were intended to withstand, they become less efficient at stopping your car.

Hot Wheels

Friction will be created by the continuous pressing of the brake pad against the rotor while braking. It will transform a significant amount of this energy into heat energy. When you use the brakes repeatedly, the heat generated will rise. In the end, the whole wheel will be hotter, and you will be able to tell when you are near to it anyway. Overheated wheels can give off a rubbery odor, and if this occurs, you must stop the car immediately because the heat generated may be sufficient to ignite a fire.

Poor Mileage

Sticky brake calipers likely cause poorer fuel mileage than usual. Inadvertently using the brakes increases the load on the engine, which reduces efficiency. As a consequence, more fuel energy is used than is normal, resulting in lower fuel mileage. Even though various factors may cause poor mileage, it is essential not to rush to any conclusions before having your vehicle checked by a professional.

How Much Does it Cost to Repair a Stuck Brake Caliper?

It will depend on the car and the amount of damage it has done. Replaceable parts on smaller cars may cost as little as $200 if you perform the job yourself, while more costly components on bigger vehicles may cost as much as $1,000. It will cost more money to purchase larger brake calipers, rotors, and pads. Replacing the brake caliper, rotor, and pads are recommended when the brakes have been overheated severely since they are more likely to fail. 

The brake hose is not the source of the problem, therefore replacing the caliper will be your only option. If you find a set of brake calipers that have been repaired, they are called remanufactured brake calipers. Although aftermarket components are less expensive than OEM ones, they may work just as well for you if the rebuild is in good shape and of high quality.

Although aftermarket components are less expensive than OEM ones, they may work just as well for you if the rebuild is in good shape and of high quality. When it comes to auto repair, always go with a reputable technician you know and trust. You or your technician may be able to save some money by rebuilding specific brake calipers, which may save you much money.

Preventative Maintenance To Fix This Issue

Maintaining your brakes can help you prevent a jammed caliper or brake pedal. If you replace your brake pads on schedule and keep the fluid topped up, you will avoid significant problems. In addition, make sure that the brake system is in good working order at all times! 

Verify that there is no tor rubber present in any of the components. Ensure there is sufficient lubrication in the pads, the piston, and the grooves, as well as on the hoses. There are very few problems with calipers, and when they do arise, they are difficult to pinpoint. If you are having issues with this, you will want to get assistance from a professional.