The brake caliper is the business end of your braking system. The brake caliper does the physical end-user work that applies the pressure to the brake pads to slow down the brake rotor, which is attached to the wheel hub assembly. The brake caliper is a hydraulic piston that uses brake fluid that is pressurized from the master cylinder with some braking assist, either vacuum or hydraulic. Over time, various braking system components can become corroded and sticky, causing the vehicle to brake unevenly. It is important to have your brakes inspected regularly.
A brake caliper gets bad symptoms because of the following:
Professional assistance is a click away. Hit "yes" on the prompt and dive into our mechanic-chat style checklist. Indicate "yes" or "no" for your car’s symptoms, and we’ll guide you from there!
The brake caliper uses brake fluid pressure to push the brake pads onto the rotors and slow down the car. Because of heat and wear, leaks can happen, causing brake fluid to drip onto the tire and ground inside the wheel area.
You might also notice this symptom when turning left or right. In addition, the car might produce humming sounds and vibrations or even affect fuel consumption.
The brake pads, made of friction material, are essential in braking. When applying the brakes, the friction material contacts the rotor, squeezing the caliper to slow the vehicle. But when the friction material wears out, the metal plate touches the rotor, making a grinding noise and sensation when braking. This happens when the brake pads are old and worn.
You might also notice smoke coming from one of the wheels, the vehicle slowing down by itself, fluid leaks from a wheel, and unusual sounds.
Brake pads are attached to your car's caliper saddle. The saddle has metal slides that keep the pads in place and help them apply pressure to the rotor. If these slides become clogged with rust or debris, the pads can stick and cause uneven wear. When only one of the slides sticks, it'll pull the vehicle in one direction when braking.
The brake caliper has a piston that moves back and forth inside a chamber. So, it has its own space to operate. A special o-ring helps retract the piston, and a dust boot keeps dirt out. If something gets inside the chamber, the o-ring can't work correctly, and one side of the brakes might not release fully after braking. This can lead to uneven brake pressure and pulling to one side when you stop and release the brakes.
The master cylinder is the part generating and distributing fluid pressure to engage the brakes. It has a piston that moves when you press the brake pedals, which transmits pressure to the brake calipers; it has some rubber cups to help seal the brake fluid. Over time, these cups wear out, causing fluid to leak between the master cylinder and booster. When this happens, the brake pedal can feel weak and might sink to the floor when you press it.
You may also feel shaking in your seat, which might increase after carrying heavy loads.
The brake rotors are attached to your vehicle's axles, which connect them to your steering. The heat generated from the friction of excessive braking can cause these rotors to warp. When the rotors warp, you might notice a shaking in the steering wheel that stops once the brakes are released.
Explore the following typical inspection results that show a potential cause for the symptom and select the one you believe is similar to your vehicle's issue.
The image provides proof of the leak from the brake caliper, which is causing the fluid to leak behind the wheel.
A customer brought in their vehicle because there were strange marks on the inner part of the driver's front tire. They also saw clear liquid on the ground where they park, sometimes even on the tire tread itself.
During a test drive, the technician didn't notice anything about the customer's concerns. However, during a vehicle health inspection, the technician found brake fluid leaking from the right front brakes.
To investigate further, the technician cleaned the wheel and brake caliper assembly. With an assistant inside the vehicle, the technician lifted the vehicle on a lift and had the assistant apply and hold the brakes firmly. This made the leak seep from the area where the brake caliper was put together, confirming the mechanic's suspicion.
Based on that, the technician recommends replacing both front brake calipers.