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#4800938 - 06/29/18 08:57 PM Stuck brake caliper story
Phishin Offline


Registered: 05/01/12
Posts: 2458
Loc: Indiana
I jump on the highway this evening and about 1 mile down the road, I think: something ain't right. The steering wheel is vibrating and my Accord keeps downshifting on a flat road to maintain speed set by the cruise control.

Rest stop is 1/2 mile ahead. I pull over. Slight smoke coming from front right wheel. The rim is hot. I don't know what to do. I need to get to an appointment in 40 minutes that's 30 miles away. I go into bathroom and repeatedly grab 40 ounce cups of cold water and drown the caliper and rotor... There's a steam bath pouring off the wheel. After about 2 gallons of water were poured onto the brakes, the steam stopped.

I slowly backed the car up a few feet and moved it forward.... There was no noise and appeared that no drag was present. I got back on the highway, hit 55mph for a few miles, pulled off at the exit, and the wheel wasn't hot.

I completed my trip, 90 miles total, without further issues.

What could have caused this??

The front brakes were replaced 20k miles ago. There's plenty of pad left. That same rotor was "hung up" 20k miles ago, and that same wheel not only got new pads and rotors, but also a new caliper and brake line because of the excessive heat generated from being "stuck". Today the new caliper WAS hung up, but it seems ok now.

The last time I drove the car was Sunday, and I was on the turnpike for 800 straight miles, going 80-90 mph, making a few stops as I drove back to Indiana from New Haven, Connecticut. There wasn't an issue then.

And as a side note: the rotor isn't warped from getting smoking hot and then being drenched in water. There is ZERO shake or vibration in the steering wheel when I apply the brakes.


Edited by Phishin (06/29/18 09:03 PM)
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#4800946 - 06/29/18 09:12 PM Re: Stuck brake caliper story [Re: Phishin]
andyd Online   content


Registered: 09/25/04
Posts: 7253
Loc: Marshfield , MA
Just a wild guess. The caliper slides need attention
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#4800953 - 06/29/18 09:22 PM Re: Stuck brake caliper story [Re: Phishin]
Ducked Offline


Registered: 10/25/12
Posts: 4429
Loc: Taiwan
As above. Whatever it was that was stuck, its a fair bet that the dimensional changes caused by your emergency thermal shock un-stuck it. Its likely it'll stick again though, and that is a high risk technique to use routinely.

Strip, clean, and lubricate.

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#4800954 - 06/29/18 09:25 PM Re: Stuck brake caliper story [Re: Phishin]
oilpsi2high Offline


Registered: 12/18/14
Posts: 1385
Loc: NY, USA, etc.
You probably warped the caliper slides to the point where they aren't even allowing the caliper to move anymore.

I'd replace the caliper and lube everything at the bare minimum.

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#4800984 - 06/29/18 10:15 PM Re: Stuck brake caliper story [Re: Phishin]
supton Offline


Registered: 11/09/08
Posts: 12147
Loc: NH
I'd tear it apart and find out what is up. Make sure to push the Piston in and see if it is hard to push--if so, replace caliper. Otherwise lube up and keep an eye on it.
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#4800989 - 06/29/18 10:23 PM Re: Stuck brake caliper story [Re: Phishin]
slacktide_bitog Online   content


Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 6342
Loc: USA
Replace the caliper anyway. Because next time, it won't be ok later.

The best ones to get are Cardone Ultra or Napa Eclipse. They are coated to stop the rust.

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#4800992 - 06/29/18 10:27 PM Re: Stuck brake caliper story [Re: slacktide_bitog]
sxg6 Offline


Registered: 05/23/04
Posts: 2481
Loc: Northeast
The green Permatex ultra synthetic caliper grease locked up the lower guide pins on my Subaru.. The bottle doesn't say anything about how it's only for metal to metal contact, it clearly says that you can use it on guide pins.. Except for on cars like mine that have rubber anti-rattle bushings on the metal guide pins. So I guess I'm trying to say, I wonder if your caliper guide pins have rubber bushings on them that swelled and froze the caliper. Granted, my brakes didn't fully lock up or anything. The pad on inside that the pistons push against was doing the braking, and had more wear than the outer pad.

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#4801005 - 06/29/18 10:52 PM Re: Stuck brake caliper story [Re: Phishin]
demarpaint Offline


Registered: 07/03/05
Posts: 29974
Loc: NY
If you're going to replace the caliper you might as well do the brake hose too. Often the hose breaks down from the inside out and some that material can break loose and cause the caliper to malfunction. Replacing the caliper alone and leaving a bad hose can cause the replacement caliper to fail early.
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#4801085 - 06/30/18 04:26 AM Re: Stuck brake caliper story [Re: Phishin]
berniedd Offline


Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 593
Loc: A Warm place to live in
Until you get it figured out, bring lots of plastic jugs filled with water.

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#4801086 - 06/30/18 04:32 AM Re: Stuck brake caliper story [Re: Phishin]
Lubener Offline


Registered: 01/22/11
Posts: 2604
Loc: N.Ohio
Caliper itself, internal failure of brake hose or binding caliper slides.
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#4801091 - 06/30/18 04:45 AM Re: Stuck brake caliper story [Re: Phishin]
Silverado12 Offline


Registered: 02/26/13
Posts: 3143
Loc: Central Virginia
I agree with the flexible brake hose. This is a common problem and should be replaced with the caliper.
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#4801098 - 06/30/18 05:38 AM Re: Stuck brake caliper story [Re: demarpaint]
Trav Offline


Registered: 11/20/06
Posts: 19280
Loc: MA, Mittelfranken.de
Originally Posted By: demarpaint
If you're going to replace the caliper you might as well do the brake hose too. Often the hose breaks down from the inside out and some that material can break loose and cause the caliper to malfunction. Replacing the caliper alone and leaving a bad hose can cause the replacement caliper to fail early.


+1 Good call Frank. Not saying that's the only possibility but its good practice. It could be slides, piston binding, pins, hardened grease on the pins, etc.
I would get a pair of Reybestos Opti-Cal calipers from Rock, they are brand new not rams and are only about $60ea. These are what I am using now instead of remans, there is no core so if you have OE never rebuilt calipers you can keep them to rebuild yourself later.
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#4801109 - 06/30/18 06:09 AM Re: Stuck brake caliper story [Re: Phishin]
Donald Offline


Registered: 03/21/04
Posts: 20547
Loc: Upstate NY
I suspect you know the answer already. Pull the caliper and examine everything that moves. If its the sliding pins then clean and lube if pins are not rusted, if rusted then replace the pin. If piston does not do back in, replace caliper, if nothing is found, then replace flex hose.

Check rotor with a dial gauge for runout.
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#4801164 - 06/30/18 07:48 AM Re: Stuck brake caliper story [Re: Phishin]
eljefino Online   content


Registered: 06/15/03
Posts: 32763
Loc: ME
I had this happen. The car had been sitting a couple years. But the final cure was a new master cylinder. The little hole in it that lets fluid back up when the foot's off the pedal was restricted/ blocked/ pedal pushrod out-of-calibration. After fixing the calipers I sometimes had a rock-hard pedal-- the hydraulics had a pressure preload. You should always have a little slop.


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#4801195 - 06/30/18 08:29 AM Re: Stuck brake caliper story [Re: Donald]
Ducked Offline


Registered: 10/25/12
Posts: 4429
Loc: Taiwan
Originally Posted By: Donald
I suspect you know the answer already. Pull the caliper and examine everything that moves. If its the sliding pins then clean and lube if pins are not rusted, if rusted then replace the pin. If piston does not do back in, replace caliper,



You can actually strip and clean calipers, if you can be bothered. Quite satisfying.

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