Top 6 Seized Brake Caliper Symptoms (+ Fixing Tips)

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When certain components go wrong in a car, you’d start noticing different unusual signs and symptoms.

Inarguably, all components that make up the various systems and modules that make your car move are liable to fail someday – mostly when you don’t pay attention to them during maintenance checks.

The brake calipers are important and they can cause serious accidents when they are bad or faulty. A seized brake caliper will cause different unusual happenings while driving.

Of course, the braking system should be taken seriously, and below are the commonest seized brake caliper symptoms that you should know.

What Makes The Brake Caliper Seize?

Before we go on with the symptoms of a faulty brake caliper, let’s quickly discuss what makes the caliper seize.

Well, you can guess it right, brake caliper seizure is caused by inactivity or corrosion (rust). When a car is not being driven for a very long time, it could cause the brake calipers to seize up.

More so, rust can occur as a result of inactivity or improper maintenance of the vehicle. However, generally, the main reason for caliper seizure is the lack of moisture in the caliper region.

When the caliper lacks moisture, the pistol and brake pads become stiff – begin to wear out – and get stuck; hence, it becomes difficult for your braking system to function as supposed.

When the caliper seizes, you should call on a mechanic to fix it as soon as possible. It is dangerous to drive with bad brake calipers.

Seized Brake Caliper Symptoms

Seized Brake Caliper Symptoms

The symptoms you would experience depends on how your car’s braking system is designed to work. Regardless, you’re sure to experience one of these signs when you have a seized brake caliper.

1. Your Car Slows Down By Itself

One of the signs of a frozen brake caliper is when your start frequently slows down by itself.

This happens because when you have a faulty brake caliper, it could cause the brake pads to constantly come in contact with the brake rotors; hence, your car would always apply the brakes by itself (even when you’re not matching the brake pedal).

Apparently, this is not good stuff; hence, when it starts happening, you need to check the entire braking system, and if the brake calipers are stuck, try to replace them or apply oil to “un-stuck” them.

(Note: if the calipers are not stuck, check if they are grinding against another component and release them).

2. Your Car Shifts One Side While Braking

Another possible sign of a bad or seized brake caliper is when your car always shifts to one side when you apply the brakes.

This happens when it’s just one of the brake calipers is faulty; hence, your car will shift towards the side of the faulty or broken brake caliper.

It’d seem like you have a bad wheel alignment and thus you have to be fighting with the steering to keep the car in the right path.

Sadly, in most cases, you don’t even need to match the brakes before your car starts shifting by the side due to a seized caliper.

3. Heat Coming Off The Wheels

One thing that is sure to happen when you have a seized brake caliper is constant pressure on the brake pad.

This will cause friction between the pad and rotor; thus, excess heat will be produced. The longer you drive under this condition more heat will be produced in the brake rotor region.

You will notice this when you finally get to stop the car and probably stand close to your wheels; you will notice that heat oozes out from the wheel. 

That said, one way to know you have a bad brake caliper is to stop your car (put it in park) and then come down to check if any of your wheels is excessively hot.

4. Unusual Grinding Noise When You Match The Brakes

When you have a bad brake caliper, you will hear a grinding noise whenever you match the brake pedals.

If you haven’t been hearing such noise, then it’s apparent that your brake caliper just got worse recently. The grinding is a result of the brake pads getting stuck with the brake rotors due to a bad caliper.

5. Bad Fuel Economy

While there are various things that could cause your engine to utilize more fuel, thus, leading to bad fuel economy, a bad caliper can also cause this to happen.

When one of your brake calipers is bad, it would trigger constant unintentional braking, which would put more strain on the engine, and thus cause more fuel consumption.

6. Brake Fluid Leaks

The brake fluid you pour into your car is what lubricates the brake calipers. However, when the caliper becomes faulty, chances are that it cannot retain the fluids anymore; hence, you’ll notice leaks from the area.

This can be detected when you park your car and have a closer look at the wheel(s) area.

How To Fix A Seized Brake Caliper

Actually, it is recommended that you have a mechanic fix your car when it is apparent that the signs you’re getting are a result of a bad brake caliper.

Anything that has to do with your car’s braking system should be handled with the utmost professionalism; thus, it is not advisable to practice DIYs for fixing a brake caliper.

More so, you should consider replacing the brake rotors and pads, too, while changing the caliper.

This is because the faulty caliper may have caused the rotor and brake pad to wear out, and if not changed at that moment, you would need to do that at a later time (quite sooner than you may think), and it’d cost more at that time.

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So, what are the symptoms of a seized brake caliper? The commonest is your car shifting to one side when you apply brakes, and then the next common symptom is fluid leaks.

However, when you notice any of the signs mentioned in this article, it is advisable to check your brake calipers immediately.

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