Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Brake Caliper

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Cost of Replacing a Bad or Failing Brake Caliper

Common signs include brake fluid leaks, abnormal sounds, and vehicle pulling to the left or right. Our certified technicians can come to you and diagnose the problem. You will receive a $30 credit towards any follow-up repairs that result from the diagnostic. Following are example prices for Brake Caliper Replacement. Click on the button below to get an upfront quote for your car.

Cars Estimate Parts Cost Labor Cost Savings Average Dealer Price
2007 Ford Focus $234 $108.06 $126.00 22% $301.56
2012 Hyundai Sonata $253 $126.66 $126.00 21% $320.16
2010 Jeep Patriot $210 $84.48 $126.00 24% $277.98
2015 BMW 435i xDrive Gran Coupe $1011 $884.78 $126.00 6% $1078.28
2004 Cadillac Escalade EXT $221 $94.91 $126.00 23% $288.41
2006 Porsche Cayman $1875 $1749.28 $126.00 3% $1942.78
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How to Diagnose a Bad or Failing Brake Caliper?

brake caliper

The brake calipers are some of the most important components of modern disc brake systems. They work together with the brake pads and rotors, along with the rest of the hydraulic system, to slow and stop the vehicle. When the pedal is pressed, brake fluid pressure is pushed through the master cylinder to the caliper, which extends the piston and forces the brake pads against the rotors to slow the vehicle. Over time, brake calipers are subjected to the intense heat created when braking, and can eventually fail, which will interfere with the vehicle’s braking and negatively affect its handling and safety characteristics. When a caliper does go bad, the vehicle will usually display any of the following 5 warning signs to alert the driver of a potential problem in need of service.

1. Brake Fluid Leaks

One of the most common symptoms of a bad or failing caliper is brake fluid leakage. The calipers operate using brake fluid pressure from the master cylinder and pedal to extend the piston and slow the vehicle. A rubber seal and boot keep the fluid from leaking out. Over time, with constant exposure to intense heat generated by braking, these seals will wear out and leak. Any leaks from the brake caliper will compromise the pressure sealing capacity of the braking system, which will not only make a mess of brake fluid but also significantly decrease its ability to stop the vehicle. You may notice a puddle beneath your car and the smell of burnt rubber from the leaking fluid.

2. Reduced Braking Power

Though it can also be a sign of leaking brake fluid, seemingly reduced braking power can be a sign of a bad brake caliper. It may feel as though it takes extra effort to brake and come to a complete stop. In this case, the caliper sliders themselves may have gotten stuck from the buildup of dirt and grime. The brakes will feel spongy when engaged and the caliper will not be able to fully clamp down. Inability to brake properly can severely hinder the safety of the vehicle, and the issue should be inspected as soon as possible.

3. Abnormal Sounds When Braking

Abnormal sounds from the wheels when braking is another potential problem with the brake caliper. If you notice any sort of high-pitched noises, sudden thudding, or impact sounds when you apply the brakes, it may be a sign of loose, sticking, or binding caliper. A brake caliper in this condition will not be able to properly stop the vehicle, and may even lead to premature brake wear.

4. Vehicle Pulling

Another common symptom of a caliper in need of replacement is a vehicle pulling to the left or right. Calipers are exposed to extreme heat from braking, which can sometimes lead to the caliper piston seizing. A seized caliper piston will not be able to automatically retract, which will cause a constant drag onto that wheel. This will cause the vehicle to have a tendency to pull towards the side with the affected caliper, as the wheel on that side is traveling slower than the wheel on the opposite side due to the brake drag.

5. Brakes Always Feel Engaged While Driving

If it feels like the brakes are always on even when your foot is off the brake pedal, it may be a sign of grimy brake caliper getting stuck. The old, dirty caliper may be stuck in a way that doesn’t allow the brake pads to fully release. It may feel as though the car is working harder to go fast, dragging at speed, or as though the parking brake is left on. A stuck brake caliper will necessitate repair if not replacement.

Brake calipers are an important mechanical component of the braking system, and important to the overall safety and handling characteristics of a vehicle. For this reason, if you suspect one of your calipers of a problem, have the vehicle examined by a professional technician to inspect your brake system and determine if the car needs a brake caliper replacement.

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Kiri

17 years of experience
364 reviews
Kiri
17 years of experience
Without a doubt the most reliable, helpful, and trustworthy mechanic you can find! You can tell that he really cares about his customers and only recommends service necessary for your car's health and longevity. He is very helpful with servicing my fleet of cars and educating me about how my cars work. In a shady industry where there are a lot of mechanics who will take advantage of a customer's ignorance, he is a beacon of hope for the future of auto repair!
2007 SATURN ION - BRAKE CALIPER REPLACEMENT (DRIVER SIDE FRONT, PASSENGER SIDE FRONT) - WAYNE, PENNSYLVANIA

Damian

8 years of experience
255 reviews
Damian
8 years of experience
On time, timely, an well done.
2012 FORD E-150 - BRAKE CALIPER REPLACEMENT (PASSENGER SIDE FRONT) - FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA

Patrick

15 years of experience
12 reviews
Patrick
15 years of experience
Patrick was very professional and knowledgeable. His communication on everything that was going on with my car and the parts needed was huge for me, as I had a schedule to maintain. Definitely recommended him to others!
2011 DODGE CHARGER - BRAKE CALIPER REPLACEMENT (DRIVER SIDE REAR) - PFLUGERVILLE, TEXAS

Brandon

17 years of experience
570 reviews
Brandon
17 years of experience
Brandon was very thorough and was able to answer all of my questions. I plan to use him in the future.
2005 NISSAN ALTIMA - BRAKE CALIPER REPLACEMENT (PASSENGER SIDE REAR) - OCOEE, FLORIDA

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Related questions

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Hi there. If the brakes were working fine prior to replacing these parts then you may have air trapped in the system or the calipers may not be functioning correctly. I would first make sure that the calipers are installed...

Q: My brakes don't smoothly stop when applied. What's causing the inconsistent pressure?

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Q: 2004 Saturn Vue...Right Front brake hanging up, replaced caliper and master cylinder and still hanging up.

High brake effort can be caused by a restriction in the system. What can happen with the brake system is the brake hoses attached to caliper degrade internally causing a restriction. The hose will collapse under pressure.

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