What Causes Front Brake Calipers to Stick?

Written by steve johnson
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What Causes Front Brake Calipers to Stick?
There can be several causes when a brake caliper sticks. (brake image by Jan Will from Fotolia.com)

The brake caliper is an integral part of the brake assembly. It pushes the brake pads to make contact with the brake rotor's surface, reducing the speed. The operation of the brake caliper is based on hydraulic pressure. When the driver pushes the pedal, the brake fluid is transmitted from the brake master cylinder to the brake calipers. The hydraulic pressure forces the cylinders of the brake caliper to apply proportionate pressure on the brake pads. Subsequently, the brake pads are pushed against the brake rotor. A faulty brake caliper is a cause for concern, and the source of a sticky brake caliper needs to be identified and dealt with immediately.

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Lack of Proper Lubrication

The moving parts of the brake assembly need to be well lubricated to operate smoothly. The temperature of the front brakes increases to a great extent, especially while braking hard. Repeated braking in city traffic will also adversely affect the temperature of the brake assembly. Over time, this results in the partial evaporation of some lubricants. The seals of the pistons within the calipers and the wheel cylinders lose some of their lubrication. The consequent sticking of brake calipers can cause accelerated wear and tear of the brake assembly.

Bad Brake Line

The brake lines carry the brake fluid from the master cylinder to the front brake calipers. These flexible lines tend to swell up internally over time. When the driver applies tremendous pressure on the brake pedal, a large amount of brake fluid is pushed toward the caliper. When the pressure on the brake is released, the swollen line cannot transport the fluid back to the master cylinder quickly. This causes the calipers to stick. Replacing the brake lines is a fairly inexpensive way to fix the issue.

Irregular Changing

As time progresses, the brake fluid absorbs some water from the atmosphere. When the driver brakes hard, the brake fluid turns into steam, and this keeps the caliper closed. After some time, the fluid condenses and the normal operation resumes. To prevent this situation, the brake fluid needs to be replaced on a regular basis.

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