Why Are My Brakes Locking Up? (11 Reasons Why)

If you have noticed that your brakes are locking up, it is time to evaluate your ABS. Your Anti Lock Braking System has been designed to help you avoid a situation where you have to brake abruptly.

In that case, brakes are an essential safety feature in your car. But did you know that many other factors are involved when your brakes accidentally lock up? Here’s what you need to anticipate!

Why Are My Brakes Locking Up?

Your brakes are more likely to lock up if your brake calipers are overheated. Additionally, low-level brake fluid can cause problems with the braking performance, such as slower response time or even complete locking up of the brake structure. As well as that, you’ll also want to check for any signs of a malfunctioning ABS system!

Continue reading to learn why your car’s brakes may have locked up and won’t seem to release at all!

1. Overheated Brake Calipers

Your brakes use friction to stop your car. But, as you know, the agitation causes heatwaves, and when it is scorching, brakes will become overheated.

In fact, excessive heat can cause the brakes to burn out to the point where the brake fluid boils.

Mainly, if the brakes have become so hot that they are exhausting, an overheated brake system may finally collapse.

As a result, overheated brake calipers will further damage your brakes and make them lock up even more frequently than before!

2. Low-Level Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is vital to your car’s braking system and should be maintained regularly to ensure proper function.

If your brake fluid is low, you may be able to use a quart of brake fluid and a little extra lube to bring your system back to its entire operation.

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However, if it has been over a few weeks since you last changed your brake fluid, you may need to replace the whole system.

Overall, if you notice that your brakes are locking up frequently, you likely have low levels of brake fluid in your system!

3. Malfunctioning ABS System

An ABS is created primarily to prevent the wheels from locking up during hard braking, preventing loss of traction when it is operating correctly.

At this point, a malfunctioning ABS module can act unpredictably, resulting in your brakes locking up even when driving usually.

Aside from that, when a wheel stop turning while the vehicle is moving, ABS sensors alert a computer indicating that the brakes have locked up at that specific wheel.

Therefore, an unreliable ABS module can cause you to encounter locked-up brake issues!

4. Severe Road Conditions

Bad weather can cause your brakes to lock up, especially when you drive on roads with icy patches or loose gravel.

As well as that, extreme weather patterns can affect how you usually drive. It primarily affects your vision, which is impaired in bad weather, including rain, snow, and fog.

For that reason, you may have to stop more frequently or use more force to get the car moving again, which can increase wear on your brakes and make them less responsive over time!

Nonetheless, it’s essential to avoid cranky road surfaces to prevent your brakes from locking up!

5. Shabby Brake Pads

If you’re not using high-quality brake pads, they’ll wear out much faster than if made from premium materials.

Apart from this, brake pads that have reached the end of their lifespan will also become less effective at slowing your vehicle down.

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Additionally, they may even get damaged from heat generated by friction between the pad and disc surface, which means they don’t work as well when it’s cold outside.

Because of that, the friction between the pads and rotors can become uneven—causing them to lock up even more quickly than before!

6. Hydraulic Brake System Leakage

Hydraulic Brake System Leakage

Brake fluid is used to activate the brake systems in modern vehicles.

By means of this, keeping enough brake fluid in your car is essential to safeguard your and your family’s safety, as brake fluid leaks are the most common cause of total brake failure.

Above all, your brakes could lock up if there are leaks in your hydraulic pressure!

7. Unreliable ABS Components

Wheel speed sensors, valves, a pump, and a controller are the four main parts of ABS.

Clearly, when you experience malfunctions on these components, you should also check other parts, including the master cylinder and pistons, in your brake calipers.

That being said, a faulty ABS component can result from the braking system being unable to detect when your car is slowing down and therefore locking up the brakes!

8. Parking Brake Failure

When being pulled up or down, the parking brake occasionally needs to be pressed down with some force.

As a result, drivers could use a little too much force when manipulating this part, and e-brakes may become broken or jammed.

Due to this, when a driver tries to slow down or stop, a failing parking brake might cause the vehicle to roll forward, or the brakes may seal up unexpectedly!

9. Defective Brake Recalls

According to CarsDirect, Mercedes-Benz announced a recall covering about 300,000 vehicles due to a probable loss of braking force.

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For that being, if you notice any of these problems with your car’s brakes, you need to contact the manufacturer immediately.

Under these circumstances, necessary repairs can be made quickly before further damage occurs, like locked-up brakes on the ABS!

10. Leaky Brake Lines

When the brake pedal is depressed, the brake fluid is delivered from the master cylinder through the brake lines to the brake calipers.

Eventually, as a leak reduces the amount of fluid in the brake line and lets air into your braking system, thus, your brakes lose pressure.

As an effect, any fluid leaks could be a sign of damaged brake lines, giving you the impression that your brakes aren’t operating as smoothly as they should.

11. Master Cylinder Issues

If your master cylinder breaks down, it won’t distribute pressure adequately, which will impact the pedal.

Besides that, a damaged cylinder may wear down and begin to leak if you keep driving your vehicle.

As an outcome, the brakes may lock up if the master cylinder valves are deteriorated and improperly installed!

To know more, you can also read our posts on why motor oil is so expensive, why my coolant is low but no leaks, and why your engine is vibrating at low RPM.


Brakes are one of the essential parts of your vehicle. If you have a brake problem, it could result in a crash and injury or death.

If your brakes are locking up, you can be dealing with problems like overheating brake calipers, low brake fluid, and unreliable ABS.

Ultimately, a skilled, licensed mechanic should always handle brake issues if the ABS malfunctions!

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