When you’re driving your car, does it sometimes feel like it’s slowing itself down dramatically without you stepping on the brake pedal? You could very well have a brake caliper sticking on you. This is an issue that you do not want to leave unaddressed for too long since it could potentially cause some serious complications with your car.
If you suspect that you may have a brake caliper sticking, you should keep your eyes peeled for the symptoms that will show you that this is, in fact, the case. You should also make it your mission to stop a brake caliper from sticking by having it replaced at the first sign of trouble. Keep reading to learn more about what a brake caliper is, what it does, and how you can tell when you have a brake caliper sticking.
What Is a Brake Caliper, and How Does It Work?
Your car’s braking system is made up of a handful of different parts. From your brake rotors to your brake pads, they all play an important role in your car’s ability to slow itself down when you step on your brake pedal.
Brake calipers aren’t always the first parts that come to mind when people think about the various components that make up their braking systems. But they play a key role in slowing your car down when you apply your brake. They’re the parts that are responsible for actually squeezing your brake pads so that they’re able to come into contact with your brake rotors. The clamping force that they’re able to apply to your rotors slows your car down when you’re driving it.
Here is a more complete breakdown of how your car’s brake calipers actually work:
- Your brake pads fit inside of your brake calipers
- Your brake master cylinder supplies when your brake calipers with hydraulic pressure when you push down on your brake pedal
- Your brake calipers use the hydraulic pressure from your brake master cylinder to create a hydraulic clamping force that is applied to your brake pads
- Your brake pads press up against your brake rotors
- Your car begins to slow down and ultimately comes to a complete stop
As long as all of this goes according to plan, you shouldn’t have any trouble slowing your car down by relying on your braking system! But problems can arise if you have a brake caliper sticking. This is often going to result in too much pressure being applied to your brake pads and brake rotors, which can cause your car to brake when you don’t want it to.
What Does It Means When You Say a Brake Caliper Is “Sticking”?
In a moment, we’re going to move into talking about some of the symptoms that you’ll see when you have a brake caliper sticking. But before we do that, it’s important for you to know what we’re talking about when we’re alluding to a brake caliper “sticking.”
When a brake caliper sticks, it’ll apply pressure to the brake pads in your car and refuse to let go of them. Even if you don’t have your foot anywhere near the brake pedal in your car, a brake caliper sticking is going to lead to your car slowing down since your caliper will be stuck in place. As you can probably imagine, this can cause big issues for you if the caliper doesn’t ever release. It’s why it’s so important for you to spot a brake caliper sticking early and do something about it.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of a Brake Caliper Sticking?
When you have a brake caliper sticking in your car, it’s usually going to be almost impossible for you to miss it. It’s going to change the way that your car drives and alter the way in which you’re able to use your braking system. But a brake caliper sticking can present itself in a number of ways. Let’s discuss some of the most common symptoms of a brake caliper sticking below.
1. Your Car Always Seem to Be Pulling to One Side
When you’re driving your car down the road, does it always feel like it’s pulling to one side? This could, in some cases, be a sign that you’re experiencing an alignment issue. When your car is aligned properly, that could possibly result in it pulling to one side or the other.
Oftentimes, though, an alignment issue will set in gradually over time. You’ll feel your car pulling to one side a little bit and then feel it doing it more and more as you move forward. But when you have a brake caliper sticking, you’ll suddenly feel your car pulling to one side seemingly out of nowhere.
At first, it might only do this when you’re pressing down on your brake pedal. But it won’t be long before your car is pulling to one side almost all the time. This is going to make it very dangerous for you to continue to drive your car since you’re going to have to constantly overcompensate for it pulling to one side.
2. Your Car Feels Like It’s Slowing Itself Down
If you have a brake caliper sticking, it’s going to mean that your brake pads and brake rotors will be touching almost all the time on one of your car’s wheels. As you can probably guess, this is not going to be good since it’s going to mean that your car is braking at all times.
If you feel like your car is slowing itself down all the time without you applying any pressure to your brake pedal, you should see whether or not you might have a brake caliper sticking. It’s obviously not going to be safe for you to continue to drive a car that isn’t able to maintain a steady speed when you’re out on the road.
Outside of the fact that a brake caliper sticking will affect your car’s ability to maintain a normal speed, it’s also going to take a huge toll on your brake pads. Your brake pads are going to wear down way faster than they normally would when they’re pressed up against your brake rotors all the time. They’re also going to start to make strange grinding sounds before long.
3. Your Car Is Getting Terrible Gas Mileage
There are quite a few things that can cause your car to get less-than-ideal gas mileage. You might find yourself at the gas pump way more often than you would like if:
- You don’t keep enough air in your car’s tires
- You drive your car too fast
- You allow your car to idle too often
- You have an engine problem that hasn’t been tended to
- You have too much stuff crammed into your trunk and it’s weighing your car down
If you notice that your car doesn’t appear to be getting the best gas mileage as of late, you might be able to change that by addressing one or more of the issues that we just mentioned. But you might also find that you have a brake caliper sticking that’s causing your gas mileage to plummet.
When you have a brake caliper sticking, you’re going to have to keep your foot on the gas more often to stop your car from slowing down. This is, of course, going to lead to your car using more gas than it should. You’re going to want to replace your brake caliper to prevent it from slowing your car down anymore.
4. Your Car’s Wheel Is Producing Way More Heat Than Usual
If you have the slightest inclination that you might have a brake caliper sticking, you should walk by the wheel that seems to be giving you issues after you’re done driving it. Put your hand down by the wheel and see if you can feel any heat coming off it. If you can, guess what? You probably have a brake caliper sticking!
The heat that is coming off that wheel is going to be the direct result of all the friction that is building up in your braking system due to your brake caliper sticking. Until you get rid of that friction, your wheel is going to continue to get hot while you drive. And the heat that is produced could cause further complications for your braking system and your car as a whole.
Is It Safe to Drive a Car When a Brake Caliper Is Sticking?
As we’ve touched on a few times now, it’s not a good idea to drive around when you have a brake caliper sticking because it’s not safe to do so. There are several bad things that could happen to you and/or your car if you have a brake caliper sticking and don’t do anything about it.
If you continue to drive in a car with a brake caliper sticking, you might:
- Lose control of your car and get into an accident
- Slow your car down too quickly and get rear-ended by another driver
- Put too much strain on your braking system and cause issues with your brake pads, brake rotors, etc.
For these reasons, you shouldn’t ever get caught driving a car with a brake caliper sticking. A single bad brake caliper has the potential to take down your whole braking system with it. It also has the potential to cause you to get into an accident if you’re not careful.
How Much Will It Cost to Replace a Bad Brake Caliper?
Once you have a brake caliper sticking in your car, there won’t be much you can do to fix it. You’ll need to have your brake caliper replaced as quickly as you can to get your car’s braking system working like normal again.
This is often going to cost you a pretty penny. When you go to replace a bad brake caliper, it’s going to cost you:
- Somewhere between $390 and $590 for parts
- Somewhere between $135 and $170 for labor
- For a grand total of somewhere between $525 and $760
Depending on how long you wait to replace a brake caliper, you might also end up having to replace brake pads and rotors to go along with it. And that could drive the cost up over the $1,000 threshold in some instances. It’s why you need to be diligent about looking out for the signs of a brake caliper sticking and fixing it right away.
How Often Will You Need to Replace Brake Calipers?
The good news for everyone out there is that the average car owner won’t have to worry too much about a brake caliper sticking. While other braking components, like brake pads, will fail on a fairly regular basis, brake calipers are designed to last for a really long time.
You shouldn’t notice a brake caliper sticking in your car until at least the 125,000 mile mark. And even then, you should see that your brake calipers will keep on ticking well beyond that point. Many brake calipers won’t ever have to be replaced as long as you stay on top of maintaining the other parts in your braking system.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still keep an eye out for any signs of a brake caliper sticking. The last thing you want to do is get caught driving around with a brake caliper sticking for an extended period of time. It can lead to all kinds of trouble for you and your car.
How to Sell a Car With a Brake Caliper Sticking
Do you have a brake caliper sticking in your car right now? If so, you’re going to need to have it replaced if you plan on keeping your car. But you might also want to consider selling your car if it’s on the older side and is starting to experience these types of problems.
Even with a brake caliper sticking, you can still sell your car to Cash Cars Buyer without any issues. We’ll pay you top dollar for your car, no matter how bad of shape its braking system might be in. All you have to do to obtain an offer for your car from us is:
- Provide us with the make and model of your car as well as the year it was made
- Tell us how many miles are on your car and what kind of condition it’s in
- Receive a written offer from us for your car
- Decide whether or not you want to accept the offer that you get from us
If you decide that you do, in fact, want to sell us your car, we’ll take it from there! We’ll pick it up from you at your desired location and put cash directly in your pocket for it. Contact us now for more information on how this process plays out!