Seized or Stuck Brake Caliper Piston
We will show you how to fix this annoying and quite common issue
We have all been there, your driving along minding your own business. Everything is running smoothly then all of a sudden you have to slam your brakes on, you hear a grinding noise. Now it’s best to get that noise checked a simple look at your brake calipers is all it takes to see that your brakes are worn down. If you choose to keep driving with worn down brake pads then it’s just a matter of time until you will be hearing that dreaded metal on metal grinding. This almost always leads to a stuck brake caliper piston.
The reason this happens is because you have worn your brakes down much further than they are supposed to go. I myself have done this one or two times, look it happens this is why we recommend you do weekly checks to ensure that everything is working as it should be, especially if you drive on the Highway often breaking fast at high speeds will greatly increase your brake pads life span.
How we ended up here
There may be a few reasons as to how you got yourself stuck in this predicament. In most cases a seized brake caliper is because you have not been looking after your brake system as a whole. Car manufacturers don’t really point out that if you go past the brake “threshold” it will most definitely cause a problem with your brake calipers. This is due to the strict sizes and cost car manufacturers go through. They aim for the mm anywhere to save a few bucks. They don’t expect you to wear your brakes down, so if it does happen they don’t really care.
You came to his outcome via two methods.
1 .You was fixing your own car (cheaper option)
This is quite common for most people who are new to fixing cars. Brake replacements and changes are one of the more simple tasks when it comes to car repairs. We normally recommend our followers to try this out first, it’s quite simple to do, that is if everything comes off easily.
You probbaly spent the first half of the job trying to get all the seized bolts off, everything was rusty and dirty. You get the old brake pads off and try to put the new ones in. The only problem is they won’t fit back on the brake disks when assembled. This is due to the gap between the pads you must push back the brake caliper piston in order to give you enough room to put the caliper back on the disk.
Normally a simple push will get the piston back, but if you have gone past the dreaded point of no return then your going to have a seized or stuck brake caliper. We have a special tip to you out of this sticky situation so please read on. Oh and for the record don’t listen to people who say you need a new brake caliper they should last the life of the car, mine are still on after 250,000 miles never been changed. It’s quite rare for you to replace them. If you have to replace them grab one off a scrap car save yourself the cash.
2. You took it the mechanic to have a look ($$$)
This is a worst case scenario. You took it to the mechanic when a simple look at the car would have shown you what was wrong. Some mechanics will charge you to look at the car then they can say what they like. They probbaly said something along these lines:
“Bad news because your brakes are so low down they have come into contact with the brake disks, because of this damage you will need new disks and since the caliper is now seized you will need a new one, as well as some brake pads. Oh and you need to do this in pairs”
Wow thanks mr mechanic for making me buy 2 brake disks, 2 calipers and 2 pairs of pads oh and all them labor charges. You really saved my life right there. Brake disks wear down like brake pads if you have minor scratches on the disc it does not matter in the slightest. Deep scratches can be a slight problem, your main concern is when the disk starts crumbling on the sides and shaking/slipping whilst braking. It’s funny how the price can sky rocket over something minor like a stuck brake caliper.
Now that we have come to the conclusion as to why your in this position you have options. If your at home your half way there, all you need to do is follow this helpful guide on how you can break free your brake caliper. But if your the unlucky one reading this in the garage waiting room, then I do feel sorry for you at this moment.
There maybe some hope yet, if they have not started working on your car yet, call it off. Pay them the cost to look at the car if there is one then drive off home just take it really easy no hard braking, if it really is that bad pay to be towed it is much cheaper than the cost of the repairs.
What you will need to Change your Brakes and Fix that Stubborn Brake Caliper
This is a brake down of everything your going to need to get the job done. This includes the items you need to replace the brake pads.
- A Jack Suitable for your car
- Jack Stand (Axle stand)
- Socket and wrench set
- Replacement Brake Pads
- Prying bar – Something like TEKTON 3346 Rolling Head Pry Bar Set, 4-Piece
Any Strong Metal Rod Will do. To Pry the Stuck Brake Caliper.
Now if your unsure on how to change your brake pads I suggest you follow this simple guide right here our guide isn’t live just yet! Once you have removed the old pads come back to us and we will let you in on our little secret on how you can reset that brake caliper.
How to get the caliper back to normal
Ok, you have gotten the brake pads off and now your struggling to push that caliper back into place. You have tried pushing on it, squeezing it heck even some clamps and it just won’t budge. Well if your still stuck on ideas and you don’t have a huge clamp that will budge the damn thing, well there is one last thing you can try.
Some people use C Clamps but if you don’t have one don’t worry!
Get your brake caliper and place 1 brake pad inside make sure it’s one of the old ones. Now attach the brake caliper to your brake disk. Make sure you bolt the brake caliper back to the disc to stop it moving.Now grab your trusty pry bar. Wedge your pry bar between the old brake pad and the brake disk now use your body weight and push the pry bar against the brake pad. It can be quite stiff to start with but just edge it out a bit at a time. Don’t worry it will budge with enough force, just make sure your not causing damage to the disk.
See the image below:
Once you have gotten the brake caliper piston moving push it back far enough so the new pads will fit. If the brake caliper will not move at all try loosening the brake caliper bleed nipple or removing the cap on the brake fluid reservoir. (Found in the engine bay, double heck car manual for location) You may need to bleed your brakes if you do this though.
That’s really all there is to it. The best part about this method is that you don’t need to fiddle around with clamps or vices. Also you don’t need to remove the caliper from the car, which would end up in a full bleed of the brake system. Oh and not to mention you save a ton of cash and feel manly in the process. What’s not to like. It is best to get specialist tools to get the job done but we find this quite a nifty little trick. Lets hope you never get a stuck brake caliper again. The best way to avoid this is to check your brake pads more often, if they are looking a bit thin replace them it’s dirt cheap.
We will update a video soon on how you can do this if your not sure if your doing the movement correctly. Like always if your not comfortable doing the job then you have no other choice but to go to a qualified mechanic. Just make sure that they are trusted and do the job correctly at a reasonable price.
We hope you enjoyed this little tutorial on how to fix a stuck brake caliper. If you have any questions please feel free to comment below. Kind regards, The Beat The Mechanic Team