Sticking Brake Caliper: Causes And Easy Solutions

The brake is one of the most critical parts of a vehicle that decides your driving performance and safety on the road. Therefore, caring for the car’s braking systems and components should never be overlooked.  Sticking brake calipers is a very popular issue relating to the braking system. So, how to deal with a sticking brake caliper? What to do when your brake is smoking? Follow the sections below, and I will show you the answer. 

What Is A Sticking Brake Caliper? 

Brake Blue Print

The brake caliper contains the pistons and pads in a car’s brake. A sticking brake caliper cannot disengage from the rotor surface of the car’s brake and cause some serious safety problems. 

When you are driving with a sticking brake caliper, you’ll feel like holding the brake slightly all the time. However, this problem is not just your feeling because the braking system is actually applied even when you don’t act. 

It doesn’t make the drivers feel very anxious and uncomfortable but also adds additional stress to the car’s components and braking system. Therefore, you should not leave this problem untackled as it carries tremendous safety risks.


So, how can you identify a sticking brake caliper? Fortunately, this issue features some very distinct and obvious signs to help drivers spot out. The most common symptom is smoke emitting from the braking system. 

When the pads are stuck against the rotors in the brake, the friction will generate tremendous heat and cause smoke. Another common sign is the sticking brake pads. 

If you feel like the brake is sticky and not working correctly, the brake pads are struggling to move in and out. Lastly, a sticking brake caliper is very likely when your vehicle tends to misalign and lean toward one direction. 

When you apply the brake, the tires will lean forward in the direction of the damaged caliber. This sign is quite subtle, but adept drivers can quickly identify it. 

Causes For A Brake Caliper Sticking 

Sticking brake caliper

Identifying the cause of a brake caliper sticking can help you deal with it more efficiently. Here are some common reasons why a brake caliper sticking happens. 

Caliper Slides

The caliper slides can get stuck when lubrication has been drained. The dirt and corrosion in the brake are other major cause that makes the slides freeze, leading to a sticking brake caliper. 

Caliper Piston

The pistons are surrounded by rubber boots, which cover and protect them from debris and dirt. When these rubber boots are torn or damaged, the dirt can sneak inside the pistons and cause them to get stuck. 

Brake Hose

The brake hose will get weaken in the long run without proper maintenance. As a result, it cannot direct the braking fluid properly and trap it inside the brake pistons. 

Solutions To Deal With A Sticking Brake Caliper? 

Here are a few simple steps to identify and fix a sticking brake caliper. However, if the problem has gotten too severe, you should take your vehicle to a professional car repair store to have it thoroughly examined. 

Check The Caliper Slide Pins

To inspect the slide pins, you first need to remove them from the braking system using pliers. Then, look for signs of corrosion, dirt, or damage on these components.

If the slide pins are dirty, simply clean and dry them using warm water and soap. However, you’ll need to remove the slide pins if they’re damaged or broken and unable to function correctly. 

Check The Caliper Bracket

Similar to the caliper slide pins, you should inspect its bracket to check for dirt, damage, or any loose part. I recommend using a rust penetrate to clean the bracket since it’s harder to reach. 

The bracket’s top surface is made of stainless steel, which is susceptible to rust and oxygenation. Use a brush to clean the rusty spots thoroughly, and replace the bracket if it is broken. 

Test The Caliper Piston

You can ask another person to apply the brake to check if the caliper piston is working correctly. If it cannot moves or get stuck, you’ll need to repair or replace the damaged piston. 

Examine The Brake Pads

Another critical part of a braking system is the brake pads. If they have gotten stuck, you must use a screwdriver or hammer to remove them. Most of the time, the stuck brake pads need to be replaced altogether. 


Is It Better To Rebuild Or Replace A Brake Caliper?

It depends on the level of damage your brake caliper has taken. If the caliper has been pitted or scored beyond repair, replacing this component is compulsory. Rebuilding can only fix some limited issues relating to your brake caliper. 

Why Should You Replace Calipers In Pairs?

It’s advisable to replace calipers in pairs even when only one side is damaged. Just replacing one side can lead to an imbalance in braking between the tires and front wheels due to the different braking speeds of the old and new calipers. 

How Much Does It Cost To Replace Two Calipers?

An average and medium-range front caliber cost around 85$ to $110, while the number for a rear caliper ranges between $90 and $110. Therefore, it costs around $200 to replace the calipers in your car’s braking system. 

What Happens If You Don’t Fix A Brake Caliper?

A damaged or sticking brake caliper will lead to uneven braking and pull your vehicle to one side. This problem is very fatal since you can quickly lose control of the vehicle when braking at high speed. 

Final Thoughts

A sticking brake caliper is very dangerous, yet it’s not an uncommon problem for many drivers. If you spot something unusual or warning symptoms in your braking system, take your vehicle to the repair store immediately. 

I hope that the instructions provided in this post can help you identify and deal with a sticking brake caliper more effectively. If you have any further questions, feel free to comment and ask me. Thank you for reading!

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