Why Is My Brake Caliper Sticking? (11 Reasons Why)

The brakes are among the most critical components in a car, which play a crucial role in the safety of every driver. Without working brake calipers, a car or truck would be unable to slow down or stop.

So, if your brake caliper is sticking, you must recognize the typical signs to look for along with the most causative factors to fix the problem. That said, learn more about it here!

Why Is My Brake Caliper Sticking?

A rusted caliper piston caused by a broken piston boot is the leading significant reason for a sticking brake caliper. It can also be influenced by stuck brake pads and attempting to push on the brake discs. Finally, it could be a faulty parking brake wiring if it’s a back-end brake caliper.

You will learn in this post why your brake caliper is sticking in just a few moments. Here are 11 reasons why; read on!

1. Dirty Caliper Slides

A primary trigger is caliper slide failure. Once you press the brake pedal, your vehicle’s brake pads slide into each caliper groove.

Then, the brake pads slide away from the grooves when you lift your foot out of the brake pedal.

However, dirt or corrosion in the grooves or within the brake pads will become stuck among those grooves.

With that, it means when you take your foot off the brake pedal, the brake pads will not slide out of the grooves, which is likely to make the brake calipers start to feel sticky.

2. Dry Caliper Bolts

Another possibility for a frozen brake caliper seems to be a problem with the caliper’s bolts.

These bolts are also designed to slide, and they may quickly become sticky if they become too dry and are not lubricated regularly.

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Therefore, the bolts have a protective rubber layer that traps the lubricant within the bolt.

However, this rubber can quickly tear and spill the grease; it often happens by mishap when mechanics replace brake pads on a vehicle.

When the bolt gets dry out, rust and grime will accumulate, further deteriorating the sliding mechanism.

3. Worn Out Brake Hose

Brake hoses begin to wear out and tear apart on the inside. In addition, it will cause the brake fluid to flow in just one direction after you exert pressure on the vehicle’s brake pedal.

So, if this occurs, the fluid cannot return to the master cylinder once you remove your foot from the brake pedal. As a result, the brake calipers become sticky.

4. Defective Caliper Piston

A caliper piston that doesn’t fit properly in your vehicle’s caliper housing may end up causing the piston to entangle when braking or releasing the brake pedal.

That said, it is more likely to occur with a lesser quality remanufactured caliper. However, any caliper assembly might be defective.

5. Worn Out Brake Pads

If you do not start replacing your brake pads as soon as possible, they will wear out.

So, the caliper will then be unable to generate the required friction against the rotor, resulting in extreme stickiness.

6. Damaged Piston Boot

Damaged Piston Boot

Tires, wheels, and brakes are some of your vehicle’s dirtiest components. For example, dust, dirt, and grime may enter the piston housing if your caliper piston boot is ripped.

Further, this debris would then rub all over the piston and its housing, causing wear on the caliper’s internal parts. It might eventually obstruct the piston’s mobility.

Therefore, the piston may even become stuck in the housing.

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7. Rusty Caliper Piston

Caliper pistons have become an essential component of the braking system. They are pressing the brake pads towards the brake disc to slow the car down.

Further, a rubber boot surrounds your vehicle’s brake caliper pistons to keep dust and other contaminants out of the brake system.

In addition, it is widespread for this boot to become damaged, allowing water and other debris into the piston.

Therefore, it will start causing the piston to rust and eventually stop moving, causing the brake pads to become stuck against the brake disc.

8. Filthy Caliper Guide Pin

Your vehicle’s brake caliper guide pins are situated at the bracket and aid in moving the caliper forward and reverse when braking.

Further, these guide pins are frequently clogged by rust, preventing the brake caliper from working and, as a result, causing sticking brakes.

Also, these guide pins are protected from dirt and water by rubber boots. So, it is best to examine the rubber boots, and eliminate, dry, and lubricate the guide pins.

Of course, they can be difficult to remove after being stuck for some time, so a torch is required to warm them up before attempting to remove them.

9. Old Brake Fluids

The leading cause of many brake problems is filthy or old brake fluid. Because brake fluid draws water from the air, you must replace it once every one or two years.

Also, if you do not replace it, it will retain a lot of water, causing your brakes to rust inside and out.

10. Parking Brake Steel Cable

If your vehicle’s sticking caliper problem originates in the vehicle’s rear, it’s a good chance that the parking brake is malfunctioning.

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That said, several modern vehicles have the handbrake on the brake caliper rather than the brake disc. As a result, liquid and other debris can enter the handbrake cables and rust them.

Also, when you let go of the handbrake, the brake calipers will not release properly.

To fix this, lubricate your handbrake wiring and the arm on the caliper and move it back and forth a hundred times to know if it improves.

Or worse, you must replace your vehicle’s parking brake cables or caliper.

11. Corroded Brake Pads

Rusted brake pads are the predominant cause of a sticky brake caliper. The brake pads need lubricated guides to glide forward and reverse on the brake caliper bracket quickly.

Then, once dust and rust accumulate on all bracket slides, your vehicle’s brake pads become entangled in the bracket and push against the brake disc.

So, disable the brake pads and clean the caliper bracket with sandpaper or pile before lubricating it with a copper coating or something similar.

To know more, you can also read our posts on why your car is leaking steering power fluid, why your car is losing power, and why your coolant is not circulating.


The most common cause of brake calipers sticking is the piston does not fully retract when the brake is released. Cleaning the piston or installing new guide pins are two options.

If these steps do not solve the problem, you might need to change the entire caliper. In some instances, the whole braking system may require servicing.

Also, if you’re experiencing brake problems, you should take your vehicle to a qualified mechanic as quickly as possible.

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