A stuck brake caliper can make your brakes feel spongy and reduce the stopping power, which requires to pull over the vehicle.
Replacing a brake caliper can be expensive, but there are some temporary fixes that you can try to get your brakes working properly again.
Here’s what to do if you have a stuck brake caliper.
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Diagnosing the Stuck Brake Caliper
Before attempting any repairs, diagnose the brake caliper that is stuck.
Symptoms of a stuck brake caliper includes:
- Vehicle pulling to one side when braking
- One wheel is much hotter than the others after braking
- Brake pad wearing unevenly or rapidly on one wheel
To confirm a stuck caliper, follow these steps:
Inspecting the Brake Pads
One brake pad seems to be worn out, while the other looks new from the inner surface and the outer pads.
Check for Heat
- Use an instrument like an infrared thermometer to check the temperature of all brake components after driving.
- Much higher temperature on wheels, rotors, and pads may be on the sticking caliper side.
Once you’ve verified the sticking caliper issue, try these temporary fixes:
Tap the Brake Caliper Pistons with a Rubber Mallet
- Gently tap the caliper pistons on the stuck side with a rubber mallet.
- This can help you to knock loose any corrosion or debris that is causing those to stick.
In addition to that:
- Remove the sticky brake pad material around the pistons by using a brake cleaner.
- Tap the piston inboard with soft blows by working around the perimeter.
- Avoid using any metal tools to prevent any scoring on the piston surface.
Lubricate the Caliper Slide Pins
Sticking pistons are often caused by rusted or gummed-up slide pins.
Lubricating them can restore the proper caliper movement.
Steps for Lubricating the Slide Pins:
- Remove the slide-pin boots and spray those with a brake cleaner.
- Apply high-temperature caliper grease to the slide pins.
- Cycle the brake pedal to distribute the lube.
- Replace any slide-pin boots if needed.
This should allow the caliper to operate properly as a temporary measure.
But replacing the sticking brake calipers as soon as possible is essential for a safe braking procedure.
Perform a Brake Fluid Flush
Contaminated brake fluid can also cause the caliper sticking issues.
So, flushing the brake system can also help you to overcome this issue:
Procedure to Flush the Brake Fluid
- Extract any old fluid which uses the brake fluid extractor.
- Make sure to fill the container with new DOT 3 or DOT 4 fluid.
- Bleed the system by starting with the wheel farthest from the master cylinder.
- Check for any leaks and confirm the firm brake pedal.
Remember that flushing fresh fluid through the system can help you to clean out any debris and dissolve the accumulations that causes the sticking issue.
Consider a Brake Line Restriction
In some cases, a restricted brake line prevents the proper caliper retraction.
This allows pressure to remain on the pads by leading into similar issues.
Checking for restrictions:
- With the pedal depressed, open the bleeders to relieve the pressure.
- The caliper should fully retract when the bleeders are open. If not, it’s obvious that the brake lines may be blocked internally.
Practical Check Ups After Temporary Repairs
Make sure to follow these steps after a quick fix:
- Carefully Test the Vehicle’s Braking System.
- Start the vehicle at low speeds in an empty parking lot.
- Perform moderate and hard stops by checking for sudden deceleration.
- Monitor the brake temperature after test stops.
FAQs About Temporary Fix For Stuck Brake Caliper
Q: How long will lubricating the caliper slide pins may last?
A: Lubricating the pins can help for 1-2 months in some cases. But it’s best viewed as an extremely short term fix. The lubricant can wash away quickly or wear off the pins as those become active.
Q: Is taping the pistons with a hammer safe for the brake system?
A: When done carefully, light tapping won’t damage the caliper. But avoid direct metal-on-metal contact. The goal is to lose the debris without damaging the sensitive parts.