What to Do about Brake Caliper Sticking

March 15, 2012

Fixing a sticking brake caliper yourself is serious business, but it's certainly doable. Learn the 7-step fix for brake caliper sticking.

Brake Job

Serious brake problems can occur if your vehicle has experienced a brake caliper sticking and the problem is left unchecked.

Do-it-yourself brake caliper repair should be undertaken only if you have a good idea of what to expect from such a job. Brakes are serious business, and if you are at all unsure, let an expert handle the job. Disc brake repair, for instance, might require professional assistance. Before you begin, learn if the calipers on your car are non-loaded or semi-loaded. Brake caliper removal will require a mechanic if they are semi-loaded, so only attempt the job if yours are non-loaded. Either way, make no mistake. This will be a challenging job.

Tools and Materials

  • A ratchet set or tire iron
  • A drain pan
  • Lubricant for brakes
  • A wrench
  • Brake bleeding tools
  • Pliers
  • Screwdrivers
  • A brake caliper piston turning tool
  • Brake pads
  • Brake fluid

Remove the Wheel
Remove the wheel on the corner where the calipers need replacing. Loosen the lug nuts with the ratchet or tire iron, jack up the car on that corner and secure it from any movement whatsoever. Remove the lug nuts and wheel and set them aside in a safe location.

Start the Caliper Removal
Slide the drain pan under the brake mechanism, and locate the bolt known as the banjo bolt that connects the brake caliper to the brake line. Loosen this bolt. Loosen and remove the bolts that attach the caliper to the wheel assembly and let the brake fluid drain into the pan.

Finish the Removal
Drain the caliper of any fluid. Remove the mounting components from the caliper including the rubber boots, bolts and sliders. Make sure none of these parts are damaged or rusted in any way. Lubricate all moving parts, for these mounting components will be placed on the new caliper.

Attach the New Caliper to Brake Line
Use the brake caliper piston tool to compress the new caliper piston. It should be compressed completely. Reattach the new caliper to the end of the brake line, but do not secure it yet.

Attach to Wheel Assembly
Put the new brake pads on the caliper, lubricate the caliper bolts and reattach caliper to wheel assembly. Calipers sit over the brake rotors, so make sure it is aligned properly. Once done, reattach the brake hose/line and tighten the banjo bolt.

Bleed the Brakes
Fill the master cylinder and attach a hose to the bleeder valve on the new caliper with the other end in jar. Have a helper press down on the brakes after you have opened the valve. You will see air bubbles in the jar. Close the valve before the brakes are let up. Repeat this: open valve, press brakes, close valve, let up brakes until all you see is fluid in the jar-no air. Refill the master cylinder and make sure the bleeder valve is closed.

Reattach the Wheel
Put the tire back on the wheel assembly, tighten the lug nuts by hand, lower the jack, and once the car is on the ground, tighten the nuts with the ratchet or tire iron. You've just successfully changed your worn out brake caliper. It was a challenge, but in the future you will know exactly what to do.

Related Questions and Answers

What Tools are Required for Replacing Brake Calipers?

There are several essential tools that you will need when replacing brake calipers on your car. You will obviously need a jack and a jack stand, in order to take out the wheels and access the brake calipers. You will also need the appropriate socket wrench to be able to take out the calipers. If the bolts of the calipers are too tight, you can get some lubricant, such as WD-40, and spray some on the area in order to loosen the bolts from the rust and corrosion that may have formed. Finally, you will also need some brake fluid to refill the system because you will need to bleed the brakes as well when replacing the brake calipers.

Will Performance Brake Calipers Really Help Me Stop Faster?

If you replace your current caliper with a performance brake caliper, you may feel a little performance upgrade in terms of braking and stopping power. However, this is not true for all caliper upgrades. It still depends on the build quality of the manufacturer of the calipers. The best calipers have more efficient response, therefore allowing the car to get to a standstill faster. They can also reduce drag, which prevents the car from taking off faster. However, this performance upgrade will not be felt that much if you do not have a high performance car anyway. If you have an ordinary car with mediocre horsepower, a performance brake caliper will not matter much.

Which is the Highest Rated Reconditioned Brake Caliper Supplier?

When replacing your brake calipers, take extra care when you decide to use reconditioned brake calipers. Since these calipers are not new, you should try to find the most reputable shop or store that reconditions these calipers. Brakewarehouse.com is a great place to shop for these types of calipers because they have a remanufacturing process that ensures stability and reliability of their products. It's like getting a new set of calipers at half the price. The site carries calipers for various car makes and models so, whatever your car is, chances are they will have the right reconditioned brake calipers for you. All you have to do is visit their website.

What is the Average Cost for a New Auto Brake Caliper?

When you are replacing or maintaining your brake calipers, it is normal to pay attention to the brake caliper cost and find the best deals that you can get. You can get them individually, and an average replacement caliper usually costs around 40 dollars. However, if you plan to change all of the brake calipers of your car, you can usually get a bundled set for a relatively cheaper price of $150or less, depending on where you purchase them. The calipers should include all seals and gaskets as well. When purchasing your new calipers, make sure that the brake caliper cost is consistent to the quality of the product.

What do Brake Caliper Repair Kits come with?

Brake caliper repair kits usually come with a set of seals to replace the old ones found in the caliper. These seals should be replaced occasionally because of the wear and tear that they experience from everyday use and exposure to the elements such as dirt, grime and water. The kit also sometimes contains a brake caliper piston, depending on the type that you buy. The piston needs to be replaced if you observe some pitting and blemishes on it. When repairing your brake calipers, it is important that you know the parts that come with the brake caliper repair kits you purchase, in order to use and install them appropriately.