Is it safe to drive with a frozen caliper?

What is the caliper?

The caliper is the part of the brake system that houses the pads and pistons. When you press the brake, the caliper squeezes the brake pads against the rotors bringing the car to a stop.

If the caliper gets stuck or frozen, the brake pad can’t completely disengage from the surface of the brake rotor. This leaves the brakes lightly applied all the time, and can make driving more difficult. Driving with a stuck caliper can create stress on the brake system and the transmission, causing these parts to fail earlier.

Signs and symptoms

If you think that one or more of your brakes has a stuck caliper, here are some signs and symptoms to look for:

  • The vehicle is pulling to one side. This is a Hallmark sign that something is wrong with your car, and calipers could be the culprit. If you feel like you have to fight the steering wheel to keep the vehicle in a straight line, take your car in for service.
  • Heat coming off the wheels. This is another common sign of a stuck caliper. If you suspect a stuck caliper, pull over, stop the vehicle, put it in park, and turn off the engine. Place your hand close to the wheel, without touching it, and see if you can feel heat. If the area by your wheel is excessively hot, you may have a stuck caliper. Do not touch the rim as the heat can cause severe burns.
  • Worn or damaged brake hose. Another cause for a stuck caliper is the brake hose. When the brake hose wears out, brake fluid can’t return to the master cylinder which causes the vehicle to “stick.”
  • Malfunctioning brake pad. If the brake pad can’t slide in and out correctly, often due to debris, the caliper can also get stuck. You’ll need a mechanic to diagnose this problem and replace the pads if needed.

At V&F

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; if you replace the brake pads on a regular basis, calipers should last the life of your vehicle. At V&F, we offer Brake Repair & Antilock Braking System (ABS) Repair. Our expert mechanics use latest diagnostic equipment, and high quality CARQUEST auto parts, to make sure we get the job done right. Plus, our auto repair services are backed by an industry-leading 3 year / 36,000 mile warranty on parts and labor. Call us today at (413) 314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.

 

Written by Nicole Palange

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