Q: Front brakes seizing up and over heating

asked by on October 25, 2016

My car had all pads replaced and rotors resurfaced when I bought the car a year ago. Since I've owned the car the steering wheel would shake slightly when braking or occasionally when accelerating. About a month ago I noticed that on and off randomly the steering wheel would shake hard during highway speeds and an audible thud-thud-thud-thud-thud in coordination to the shaking and a burning smell and too-hot-to-touch rim resulted. A week or so later it did it every time at highway speeds. My mechanic resurfaced the front rotors and new pads, no more noise or shake. But three days later the front left brake was seized up with burning smell/too hot to touch and I brought it back to the mechanic who replaced the caliper on the left. That was two weeks ago and today the right brake seized up with smell/hot. I also noticed that the brake fluid was almost to min; I added fluid to the max and pumped the brakes and it did not heat up in the 10 minute drive home. Caliper? Cylinder? Fluid?

My car has 115000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

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Hello. It sounds like you may have some contamination in the brake fluid or a brake master cylinder that is not releasing properly. I usually check the fluid first. I do a few tests on the fluid to see if there is any contamination such as petroleum. If there is a petroleum product contaminating the system then the internal seals will swell causing the brakes to begin to bind. If the fluid is fine then most of the time it is caused by a failing master cylinder. Typically the pistons inside of the bore get hung up keeping the brakes applied. If you want to have these dragging brakes checked, consider YourMechanic, as a certified mechanic can come to your home or office to diagnose why the brakes are not fully releasing.

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