Brake Caliper Sticking When Hot (Causes and How to Fix it)

Safety is one of the key things that count when defining car quality and reliability in the market. When we talk about safety, we mostly think about brakes since this is the part that makes your car stop. What differentiates good brakes from bad ones is how fast and smoothly the car stops once you press the brake pedal. Some problems may happen in brakes if Brake Caliper Sticking when Hot. This may lead to vast damage to the car and risk the passengers. In this article, we shall discuss the causes of sticking brake caliper, its symptoms, and how to fix this fault to return braking power to its original state.

sticking brake caliper symptoms

What Would Cause Brake Caliper to Stick?

First, what does it mean to have a brake caliper stick? When you apply brakes and press on the brake pedal, the brake oil is compressed through hoses into the brake caliper that holds a brake pad. Therefore, when the compressed oil goes into the brake caliper, it presses the caliper piston into the brake pad, making it touch the brake rotor. Due to the high friction happening between the braking pad and the rotor, the car stops. This only happens in normal operation when brakes are in good condition.

If you have a sticking brake caliper, it means that the brake pad always touches the brake rotor, even if you do not intend to apply brakes. Why does this happen? This can be a result of several things. Let us not dive deep into the causes of this fault.

Three things primarily contribute to brake caliper sticking, including seizure of the slider pin and caliper piston. And the third one is obstruction in the brake line. However, this is a precise answer, but a detailed inquiry will benefit you more. 

Let us have a brief on every potential cause of this fault.

Brake Caliper Piston

The caliper piston has a rubber boot at the end, which keeps it lubricated and keeps dirt and dust away. When you install a new brake pad carelessly or by an untrained mechanic, the dust boot may get torn. This makes dust stick in the caliper piston and keeps it open. Therefore the brake and caliper piston will not go back in, but instead, it sticks to the braking pad.

Brake Hose

As time passes, the brake hose that transfers oil to brake calipers gets worn and dried out, leading to cracks. This causes the brake oil to flow into the pistons, making the caliper stick. Failed brake hoses may lead to brand-new brake calipers sticking after installation.

Brake Caliper Slides

This is quite a common cause for brake caliper sticking. The caliper slides when the brake line has rust. Each caliper has grooves where the brake pad slides into when the brake pedal is pressed. When the brake pedal is released, the brake pad slides in these grooves back to its original place. Defects happen when there are corrosion or debris build-ups in the grooves or on the brake pads. This makes the brake pad not slide back out from the grooves when you take your foot off the brake pedal due to the blocked way back.

Brake Caliper Bolts

Another cause that makes the brake caliper sticky is stuck bolts. These bolts are made to slide easily while braking and releasing the brakes. The bolts have rubber guards protecting them from rust and dust. What happens when these rubber boots wear out? Rust and dust make the bolts stuck and do not move easily with caliper movements, making the caliper sticky.

Read Also: 5 Best Brake Caliper Tool Reviews

How Do You Know If Your Caliper Is Sticking?

Every fault has symptoms that help you to identify it. Brake caliper sticking can be identified through these clear symptoms.

brake caliper sticking intermittent

Vehicles Pull To One Side

This is among the most obvious sticking brake caliper symptoms. When one side of the brakes is stuck and the other is not, the car always pulls to the side with sticky brakes. You may confuse it with misaligned wheels, but you will feel the difference.

Car Slows Down By Itself

With sticky brakes, the brake pads are always in contact with rotors. This means that the car is always braking without pressing the brake pedal. Therefore, the car will slow down by itself as it is braking automatically. This wears out the brake pad and rotor faster, and you may hear some brake caliper sticking noise.

High Fuel Consumption

If your car has bad fuel consumption, one possible cause has stuck calipers. Since the car will be braking regularly, the engine will work harder to maintain its speed. This increases the consumption of fuel.

Excess Heat from The Wheels

When braking, the brake pad touches the rotor. This contact causes friction that results in slowing down the car. If this process itself produces heat, imagine what happens when the brake caliper is stuck to the rotor. When the brake caliper sticks to the rotor, it produces a huge quantity of heat, and you may feel it on the wheels. Be careful not to touch the wheels after the ride because it will be extremely hot and may hurt your hands.

Read Also: Best Brake Line Flaring Tool Reviews

How Do You Fix a Sticking Brake Caliper?

As we have seen, a stuck caliper means that the caliper is locked up after braking, and the piston never goes back to its original place. This makes the rotor and brake pad keep on touching each other. It is recommended to fix your vehicle before you continue driving to prevent any risk. Here is a stuck brake caliper quick fix to get your vehicle back to safety.

stuck brake caliper quick fix

Start by raising the car using a floor jack and setting it on the jack stands. Using a wrench and a nut of the right size, turn the wheel nuts counterclockwise and remove them by hand to disassemble the wheels.

After that, you will find the brake caliper placed over the brake rotor and lying inside the brake pad. Use a brake cleaner spray to clean the brake assembly.

Unbolt the brake caliper using a wrench and the proper socket nut. Pull the caliper up, and be careful not to damage the brake hoses. Inside the brake caliper, you will find the brake pads and remove them by hand.

Using the brake cleaner, spray into the caliper’s internal parts and remove all dirt, build-ups, and dust that produce from the braking process. You can then use a rag to clean out and wipe any residues.

Using white lithium grease, lubricate the caliper side pins. Apply some grease on the bolts of the caliper to make its movements smooth and easy. Place the brake pad into its place and also get the brake caliper to its right position. Finish by retightening the caliper bolts using a socket wrench.

If it is the rear brake caliper stuck, Use the same steps in the rear wheels of the car.

After finishing the steps, try out the car to see if the problem is solved or not. If not, visit the nearest authorized service center for professional advice or get your calipers replaced.

Read Also: Top 10 Best Brake Line Benders Reviews


Is It OK To Drive With a Sticking Caliper?

If you have a sticking caliper, the brake pad does not return to its original place after pressing the brake pedal. This means that your car will always be applying brakes, and it will keep on breaking. As a result, it stresses out the brake pads, rotors, and transmission system leading to failure. It is, therefore, not a good idea to drive a car with a sticking caliper.

Can ABS Brake Cause a Caliper to Stick?

Yes, the ABS sends pulses of braking. Therefore if you fault the brake caliper, it will make the brake caliper stick to the rotor and fail to disengage.

Can I spray WD40 On My Brake Calipers?

No, it would be best if you only used special brake cleaner spray or brake grease for the brake parts to avoid slippage.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Sticking Brake Caliper?

This depends on repairs that will be done on the vehicle. Is it just cleaning and repairing the old brake caliper or replacing the caliper with a new one? Generally, the cost ranges from $50 and may go up to hundreds of dollars to replace the caliper.

Final Words:

When it comes to brakes, things must be taken seriously because no one wants to drive a car without or with weak brakes. Everyone needs a ride safe for him and his family. We advise you if you notice any of the above symptoms, get your car checked and get it fixed immediately.

Learn More:


Hi there, I am R. Hasan Tito, a mechanic, and owner of this website. My friend and I created this website to share our knowledge, expertise, and experience with our fellow mechanics' community and car users. I am a specialist and certified automotive mechanic (Both Heavy Commercial and Private Cars). I worked as a Mechanic and Mechanic Supervisor for over fifteen years at Global Rebound Automotive companies - Toyota, TATA, BMW, Nissan, TVs, and Others. Now, I enjoy my new role of leading a team of automotive experts (in their respective fields) and publish new content on a regular basis on my website and social media.

2 thoughts on “Brake Caliper Sticking When Hot (Causes and How to Fix it)

  1. Accueillir
    Je suis un jeune homme tunisien . J’ai 23 ans, j’ai un certificat dans la spécialité de mécanique automobile et j’ai plus de deux ans d’expérience. C’est ce dont je vous ai prévenu. Je peux me proposer pour travailler dans votre entreprise respectée.

  2. I have dragging brakes that is accompanied by a stiff brake pedal and only the front right side smokes? also in addition when this happens i open the bleeder valve and pedal goes back to normal wheel frees up and this only happens when the vehicle has been driving for some time like on my way to work which is like 5 miles from my house.

    i took off the hoses and blow through them and i can get air from my mouth to pass through boths sides, is this still a bad hose issue? what do you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts