Brake Caliper Sticking When Hot? Causes and Fixes

A functional brake caliper is required for proper braking of a vehicle, what then happens if your brake caliper starts sticking when hot?

As we all know, the main differences between high-quality and inferior brakes are determined by how quickly the brake responds when it’s applied.

A faulty brake caliper might affect the functionality of the brake system thereby endangering the driver, passengers, and other road users.

Generally, a sticky brake caliper can be fixed by cleaning and repairing the caliper or replacing it with a new one.

In this article, we’ll talk about the reasons why brake calipers stick when hot, how it manifests, and how to restore their braking power.

How to Know if your Brake Caliper is Sticking

Before making the conclusion that your brake caliper is sticky when hot, it’s relevant to watch out for a few signs from your vehicle.

These obvious indications can be used to diagnose brake caliper sticking.

  • One of the most evident signs of a stuck brake caliper is a vehicle pulling to one side. The car always pulls to the side with sticky brakes when one side of the brakes is stuck. This can be mistaken for a misaligned wheel.
  • Another way to detect a sticking caliper is when your car always slows down by itself when in motion. This is mostly a result of the brake caliper being in contact with the rotors (aids in wear and tear of the brake pads and rotors).
  • Also, your car’s fuel consumption rate will increase due to the work being imposed on the engine to keep the car running at a pre-set speed.
  • Finally, a sticky brake caliper will cause the wheels to produce excess heat due to the friction from the rotors and brake caliper causing the motor to stop at intervals.
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After the ride, be careful not to touch the wheels because they will be incredibly hot and could hurt your hands.

Brake Caliper Sticking When Hot – Causes

By default, Brake oil is forced through hoses into the brake caliper, which holds a brake pad, when you depress the brake pedal. As a result, when pressurized oil is injected into the brake caliper, the brake pad is forced onto the braking rotor by the caliper piston. The car stops because of the intense friction between the braking pad and the rotor.

But when your brake pad is always in contact with the brake rotor even when you don’t intend to use the brakes then you have a sticky brake caliper.

Highlighted below are some of the factors that might cause your brake caliper to become sticky.

1. Worn out Brake Hose

The brake hose that delivers oil to the brake calipers is worn out and dries up over time, developing cracks. This makes the caliper stick by causing brake oil to pour into the pistons. Failure to replace the brake hose could also result in a newly installed brake caliper sticking.

2. Stuck Brake Caliper Bolt

Bolts in the brake caliper are meant to move freely when the brake is been applied and released with rubber guards keeping them away from rust and dust particles.

What occurs if these rubbers become worn out? The bolts become stuck due to rust and dust, which also causes the caliper to become sticky.

3. Dirt in Brake Caliper Slides

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This is a fairly typical reason why brake calipers stick. When the brake line is rusted, the caliper slides. When the brake pedal is depressed, the brake pad glides into slots on each caliper. The brake pad slips back into position in these grooves when the brake pedal is released.

The presence of debris on the brake pad would result in restricted movement on the brake pads when you get your legs off the brake.

4. Wrong Brake Caliper Piston Installation

A rubber boot that is attached to the end of the caliper piston keeps it lubricated and shields it from dirt and dust. The dust boot may tear if a new brake pad is installed hastily or by an amateur mechanic. This keeps the caliper piston open thereby causing dust to cling to it. As a result, the brake and caliper piston won’t re-engage and instead adheres to the brake pad.

How to Fix a Sticky Brake Caliper

If you ever notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms on your car and you are sure it has been identified to be a sticky brake caliper.

Follow the below steps to fix it and restore your braking power.

  1. Firstly, raise your car using a floor jack and remove the wheel bolts to disassemble the tires – front wheel
  2. The brake caliper is located inside the brake pad and is positioned over the braking rotor. To clean the brake assembly, use a brake cleaner spray.
  3. Use a socket nut and wrench to unbolt the brake caliper and pull them up while watching out for the brake pipes.
  4. Now, remove the brake pads gently
  5. You can now use a brake cleaner to clean the inside of the caliper to get rid of dust particles that have accumulated due to braking.
  6. Next, apply grease to the caliper side pins and bolts to enable free movement – white lithium grease is recommended.
  7. Also, inspect the brake caliper located at the rear wheel and perform a clean-up if necessary.
  8. Finally, put the brake pad and caliper into the right place and tighten the bolts.
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You can now proceed to test drive your car while watching out for any of the previous signs.

If the problem persists then you should seek the attention of a mechanic or perform a brake caliper replacement.

Final Words

A sticky brake caliper is a major issue that must be addressed to avert accidents and also get the best driving experience.

You can apply the above fix to reinstate a sticky brake caliper, however, if the issue persists then you should take your car to an auto engineer for a replacement or inspection.