Eight Signs Your Brake Caliper is Bad (& the Replacement Cost)

Although you are aware that brake pads must be replaced regularly to maintain a safe pedal feel, the brake brake calipers may not get the attention they deserve. 

The brake calipers are designed to last the life of your vehicle. However, it is possible for this crucial part to fail.

What are the signs that your brakes are failing? Let’s look at the tell-tale symptoms. 

Spongy pedals and reduced stopping power are the most obvious signs of a defective brake caliper. Your vehicle may also pull one way when you brake. Sometimes, external brake fluid can leak onto the ground.

These are just a few of the symptoms you might notice if your brake caliper has gone bad. Below is a list that will detail the most frequent symptoms associated with a bad brake system.

Índice de Contenido
  1. Bad Brake Caliper Signs
    1. 1. To one side, pulls
    2. 2. Dragging
    3. 3. Reduplication of stopping power
    4. 4. Worn Brake Pads Uneven
    5. 5. Leaking Fluid
    6. 6. Soft- or hardy brake pedal
    7. 7. Strange Noises
    8. 8. Abnormal Odors
  2. What a Brake Caliper Does
  3. Brake Caliper Position
  4. Brake Caliper Repair Cost

Bad Brake Caliper Signs

1. To one side, pulls

Drive Car

The seized brake caliper doesn’t automatically retract itself. The brake pad will drag on the rotor due to this issue. 

This causes the vehicle to pull toward the end where brakes are engaged. It is now that one wheel travels slower because of a damaged brake caliper. 

2. Dragging

Glowing Brake Disc

When the brake caliper sticks, the brake pads get pressed against the rotor even when your foot isn’t on the pedal. It creates a drag sensation. This sensation is similar to brakes, but you're trying to drive. 

You might feel as though you're fighting to get your car moving forward. 

3. Reduplication of stopping power

Long Brake Distance

If any part of your brake system malfunctions, such as the brake pedal, it could cause reduced braking force. You have a higher chance of becoming involved in an accident if you have a reduced braking force. 

So it's crucial to resolve all brake issues quickly.

4. Worn Brake Pads Uneven

Worn Brake Pad

You might see uneven pad wear when the caliper sliders pins start to stick. Sometimes, this can be due to a stuck piston.

Both cases result in the pad being partially applied. The pads drag along the rotor which causes wear to occur faster and more unevenly. You will burn your pads more frequently if you have bad brake calipers.

RELATED : 5 Signs that your brake pads are worn

5. Leaking Fluid

Car Fluid Leak

Brake fluid should remain unchanged in its reservoir. It is unlikely that you will need to replenish the reservoir with brake fluid. 

If the brake calipers become worn, fluid leaks can be noticed. Hydraulic fluid activates the calipers. Because they're stuck together, it is possible to spot leaks from the bleeder screws or piston seal. 

You should look for oily spots on the outside of your tire. You can lay down a piece of cardboard if you aren’t sure a leak is what you are seeing.

Similar: Five Symptoms for a Brake Fluid Leak

6. Soft- or hardy brake pedal

Push Brake Pedal

Stuck calipers can cause a soft or spongy pedal. The problem could result from leaking brake fluid or overheated pads. 

Apart from this, a stuck caliper may cause more clearance between the pad and the rotor, which could result in a weird pedal feel. 

7. Strange Noises

Noise From Car

You might hear several different sounds when your brakes caliper sticks.

The caliper bracket that holds the caliper may break, causing excessive clicking sounds. The brakes may also lock up.

You may also hear similar sounds when your brake pads become worn. The biggest difference is that this noise is heard even when the brakes aren’t in use. It is possible for the brake caliper to continue sticking, which could cause the brake pads or rotors to become worn, resulting in a metallic grinding sound. 

8. Abnormal Odors

Bad Car Smell E1609777166642

If a brake pad becomes stuck, the caliper applies pressure. Your pads will heat up as they are constantly being used.

After all, brake pads aren’t meant to be engaged continuously. 

A broken brake caliper could cause a chemical burning smell when you get out of your car. When the brake pads heated up, the materials began to degrade, resulting in noxious smells. 

What a Brake Caliper Does

Brake Caliper

Today’s cars come with front- or four-wheel disc brakes. As is the case with most brake systems, the disc (or rotor) attaches to each wheel. The brake pedal is pressed down and the two pads grip the rotor, slowing the wheel to a halt.

Bolting the brake caliper to the bracket holds the brake pad in place by hydraulics. The brake caliper prevents pads from touching the rotor when it is not being used. 

However, hydraulic pressure will be applied to the brake lines by pressing the pedal. The brake pistons of the caliper press the pads against the rotor. The wheel can move freely when the brake pedal is released. 

Brake Caliper Position

Brake Caliper Location

On the caliper mount is where you will find your brake caliper. On the stem that connects to your steering knuckle, you will find the front brakes calipers.

There is no steering knob to attach at the rear. But you can find brakes installed on the caliper mounting behind the wheels.

Brake Caliper Repair Cost

According to the model of your vehicle and labor costs, you can expect to pay between $500-$800 for a replacement brake caliper. You will pay $135-200 for labor, and $300-$665 to install the brake caliper. 

A special kit can also be used to repair the caliper. Although this kit is significantly cheaper, it requires some effort.

It will be necessary to change the seals. There’s also the chance that something won’t be done right, requiring replacement down the road anyway. 

Unless you are familiar with working on your own brakes, it’s not wise to replace the calipers yourself.

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