Causes and Symptoms of Brake Caliper Sticking

Causes and Symptoms of Brake Caliper Sticking

Your brake calipers and your brake pads are vital to the smooth and safe operation of your braking system. They contain the pistons that, by way of hydraulics, push your brake pads inward toward the spinning rotors to bring your vehicle to a halt.

On the down side, the friction caused by that necessary process constantly exposes the calipers to a great deal of extreme heat. That heat can interfere with the caliper’s operation, even causing it to stick. This is not good news for braking or overall handing.

Here, we will bring to your attention some causes and symptoms that your calipers may be headed for failure and a resulting repair or replacement.

Brake Fluid Leaks

Rubber seals and a boot keep brake fluid inside the caliper. These too have to take on the same heat that the calipers do, which can wear them out, bringing leaks along with it. If they wear out, you will say goodbye to a lot of brake fluid. But if it happens while you’re driving, you will notice it first when your vehicle won’t stop.

These particular leaks are not as obvious as a brake line leak. You have to look a bit harder, and trace the fluid trail back to the source. If you are unable to do this yourself, get help from a local mechanic or tech.

Strange Sounds from the Wheel Area

Noises are a great way to know that something is wrong with your car. But sadly, many noises go ignored, perhaps because they don’t “sound” serious. Be advised, though, that when it comes to the braking system, strange noises coming from that direction just simply cannot be ignored.

If you hear noises coming from any of your wheels while braking, you could have a major problem with your caliper. These noises can be high in pitch, like a squeal, or a single loud knock. If you detect either of these, your caliper could be either loose or sticking, or just plain stuck. Your brakes will surely wear out faster in these circumstances, if you are able to use them at all. Get it checked out at your first opportunity.

Pulling In Either Direction

If your vehicle pulls in either direction, but your alignment and balance are on point, then you should have your caliper checked, because it probably needs replacing. The intense heat the caliper endures could cause it to seize. And when it seizes, it will not automatically return to its default position. Depending on where it seized within the braking process, if it’s constantly engaging the brake pads, the eventual uneven wear to the pad, and possibly the rotor, will cause the vehicle to pull to that side.

Just like noises, you should never ignore a condition like pulling to one side. It could be strong evidence of a real serious problem with your rotor. It can’t be said enough – don’t ignore the condition. Make sure you have it checked by a pro as soon as you can.


There are several components of your vehicle that are designed, not just for smooth operation, but for safe operation also. If you come across any of these warning signs while driving your vehicle, check it yourself if you have the know-how. Otherwise, bring it to a pro. Whatever the case, get it checked immediately.

Think of your safety, and that of any passengers you may take, especially family. Is their safety worth having it checked? Don’t risk it. Knowing you have a safe car will give you great peace of mind.


Bryce Newell is an automotive enthusiast who loves to write about the latest news, products, and DIY projects. While Bryce is an amateur in the field, he is passionate about cars and has been since he spent weekends in the garage helping his dad rebuild a 68 Dodge Charger as a kid.

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