The caliper is part of the brake assembly which houses the brake pads and pistons. If you have a stuck caliper, the brake pad will not completely disengage from the surface of the brake rotor. This means you will be driving with the brakes applied slightly all of the time. Driving with a stuck caliper can create stress on the transmission, causing it to fail earlier. There are a lot problems that can accompany a stuck caliper.
Here are some symptoms to look for if you feel that one or more of your brakes has a stuck caliper:
A major sign of a stuck caliper is if the vehicle pulls to one side when braking or while driving. While going down the road, it will feel like you have to fight the steering wheel to keep the vehicle in a straight line.
Another sign of a stuck caliper is heat coming off the wheels after the vehicle has been driven. If you suspect a stuck caliper, stop the vehicle, put it in park, and turn off the engine. Place your hand near the wheel, without touching it, and see if you can feel heat. If the area near your wheel is excessively hot, you may have a stuck caliper. It is important not to touch the tire rim because the heat can cause severe burns.
One cause for a stuck caliper is if the brake pad shims get caught, or debris builds up in between the spaces. If this happens, the pads will not be able to slide in and out correctly, causing the caliper to stick. A mechanic will be able to clean the brake pad shims, or replace the brake pads with new ones if needed.
Another cause for a stuck caliper is the brake hose wearing out. If the brake hose wears out, the brake fluid will not be able to return to the master cylinder causing the vehicle to stick. This problem is difficult to spot and needs to be diagnosed by a mechanic. If diagnosed, a brake hose replacement might be required.
To keep your calipers in good working condition, and avoid stuck calipers, have your brake pads replaced often and keep your brake fluid topped off. Calipers should last the life of your vehicle if you replace the pads on a regular basis.
Driving with a stuck brake caliper can be difficult because the brake will be slightly depressed at all times.