How Do Brake Calipers Go Bad?

9 Common signs that your Brake Calipers are bad or stuck Uchanics
9 Common signs that your Brake Calipers are bad or stuck Uchanics from


Brake calipers play a crucial role in the braking system of your vehicle. They are responsible for applying pressure to the brake pads, which in turn press against the rotor to slow down or stop your car. Over time, brake calipers can go bad due to various reasons, leading to impaired braking performance and potential safety hazards. In this article, we will explore the common causes of brake caliper failure and the signs to look out for.

1. Corrosion

One of the primary reasons brake calipers go bad is corrosion. As your vehicle ages, exposure to moisture, road salt, and other environmental factors can cause the calipers to rust. Rust weakens the structure of the calipers, leading to leaks or complete failure. Regular inspection and maintenance can help prevent excessive corrosion.

2. Seized Pistons

Brake calipers have pistons that slide in and out to apply pressure on the brake pads. However, these pistons can become seized due to dirt, debris, or lack of lubrication. When a piston gets stuck, it prevents the brake pad from fully engaging the rotor, resulting in uneven braking and increased wear on specific areas.

3. Leaking Seals

Another common issue with brake calipers is leaking seals. The seals around the pistons can deteriorate over time, allowing brake fluid to leak. This not only affects the caliper’s ability to apply pressure but can also lead to a loss of brake fluid, resulting in reduced braking power. Regular brake fluid checks can help identify any leaks.

4. Overheating

Brake calipers can overheat due to prolonged or intense braking, especially in hilly terrains or during towing heavy loads. Overheating can cause the brake fluid to boil, leading to air bubbles in the system. This can result in a spongy brake pedal and reduced braking efficiency. Upgrading to heat-resistant brake calipers can help prevent overheating.

5. Worn-out Brake Pads

Worn-out brake pads can also contribute to caliper damage. When brake pads become excessively thin, the caliper piston may extend beyond its usual range, causing misalignment and uneven pressure distribution. This can lead to premature caliper wear and eventual failure.

6. Lack of Maintenance

Regular maintenance is vital for preserving the longevity of your brake calipers. Failure to clean and lubricate the caliper components can result in dirt buildup, increased friction, and accelerated wear. Routine inspection and cleaning can prevent small issues from escalating into major problems.

7. Brake Fluid Contamination

Contaminated brake fluid can also impact the performance of your brake calipers. Moisture or air can enter the brake fluid system, leading to corrosion and reduced effectiveness. Regular brake fluid flushes and replacements can help maintain the integrity of the calipers.

8. Malfunctioning Brake Hardware

The brake calipers rely on various hardware components, such as sliders and pins, to ensure smooth operation. If these components become worn, damaged, or improperly installed, they can cause the calipers to malfunction. Regular inspections and replacements of brake hardware can prevent caliper issues.

9. Vibrations and Noise

If you notice vibrations or unusual noises, such as squealing or grinding, when applying the brakes, it could be a sign of potential caliper problems. These symptoms may indicate uneven brake pad wear, misalignment, or other issues that need immediate attention to prevent further damage.

10. Reduced Braking Performance

Lastly, a significant decrease in braking performance is a clear indication of caliper problems. If you find that your vehicle takes longer to stop or the brake pedal feels soft and unresponsive, it could be due to faulty calipers. Seeking professional assistance is essential to address the issue promptly.


Understanding the causes and signs of brake caliper failure can help you take preventive measures and ensure your safety on the road. Regular maintenance, inspections, and prompt repairs are key to keeping your brake calipers in optimal condition. Remember to consult a qualified mechanic if you suspect any issues with your brake calipers.