Signs That Your Car's Brake Calipers Need Attention

Even if you've just had your brakes serviced, you could still have problems with hardware, such as your caliper, at any time. When you have a problem with your caliper, then you could risk having serious braking problems. Here is more information on how calipers work and the warning signs that they are failing so that you can recognize the need for their repair as soon as possible.

How a Caliper Works

The caliper is the part of your brakes that holds the two brake pads against the large disc otherwise known as the rotor. The caliper uses a hydraulic piston to firmly tighten and evenly squeeze the pads against the rotor to bring your car to a smooth stop without grabbing or jerking.

Signs of Caliper Trouble

Most of the time, the caliper and pads work well and need very little attention. However, if your car has been sitting for a long time, or you've been doing a lot of driving through water or along dirt roads, then your calipers could become stuck or frozen. Here are some common signs of problem calipers:

Squeaking/Squealing Noises

These noises indicate that metal is making contact with other metals. It could mean that your caliper is scraping against your rotor or another component. If this is happening, you could be causing serious damage to your brakes.

Clunking Noises

Clunking noises mean that something is either loose or broken or that your caliper is stuck. Loose caliper pins, bolts or missing pads will often cause a clunking noise because the caliper is moving around too much. If the parts are very loose, then it could cause your brake pedal to pulsate or even hit the floor when pressed.

Car Pulls to the Side

When the car pulls to the side when braking, it frequently means that the piston is stuck. Pulling to the side may also indicate brake pad contamination, possibly caused by brake fluid from a leaky caliper or brake line.

Brake Pedal Seems Hard or Spongy

If the brake pedal seems hard or spongy, it's another sign that the caliper piston is stuck or you've lost hydraulic pressure. It could also mean that the sliders are frozen or that your caliper is dirty from excessive brake dust.

The caliper is a critical part of your braking system, so if there's trouble with it, then you could be at risk for brake failure. For your own safety, it's important that you have any brake problems addressed as soon as possible. If you're experiencing what you think might be caliper issues, take your car to an auto repair shop to have your brakes checked out.