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How to tell when your brake calipers needs replacing

Charlotte Phillips, 14 days ago

3 min read

  • Advice
  • howto
Brake calipers

WhoCanFixMyCar outlines the function of your brake calipers, including the signs of a faulty brake caliper and what can cause this to happen.

Contents

What does a brake caliper do?

How often does a brake caliper need to be replaced?

How do you know when a brake caliper goes bad?

What sound does a bad brake caliper make?

Can you drive with a bad brake caliper?


What does a brake caliper do?

Your brake calipers are a crucial part of your car’s braking system that help bring the vehicle to a safe stop when driving.

Your brake calipers help to reduce the spin of the rotor inside the wheel by squeezing the brake pads against the discs when the brakes are applied. That’s why it’s extremely important that your brake calipers are fully operational - without this, your car won’t be able to come to a stop.

While most front calipers are dual piston, many cars use single piston calipers on the rear brakes due to less braking force being needed to slow the car down.


How often does a brake caliper need to be replaced?

Fortunately, brake calipers are one of the parts of your car that is designed to last. Brake calipers aren’t considered to wear out with use, and are generally expected to last for as long as your vehicle does.

With that being said, not every vehicle will be the same and realistically you can expect to get between 75,000 to 100,000 miles out of them.

Brake calipers are one of the more resilient parts of your braking system, and whilst they should last a very long time, there are times when the part can fail.


How do you know when a brake caliper goes bad?

Some of the signs to look out for that your brake caliper may have gone bad include:

  • Unusual noises

  • Uneven wearing of the brake pads

  • Vehicle pulling to one side

  • Reduced braking ability

  • Fluid leaks

  • Soft or spongy brake pedals

  • Reduced stopping power


What sound does a bad brake caliper make?

You can often notice some unusual sounds when your brake calipers have gone bad.

Initially once this problem occurs, you might notice a rubbing sound when letting go of the brake pedal. If the problem continues, this can turn into a squealing, scraping or metallic grinding noise. If you notice a sharp grinding noise when applying the brakes, it’s likely that your brake caliper and brake disc are rubbing against each other.


Can you drive with a bad brake caliper?

In short, no - you should never continue to drive a car with bad calipers. Not only would this be extremely dangerous for you, your passengers and other road users, if you choose to continue driving you could cause even further damage to your braking system.

By continuing to drive, the material on the brake pads could be ground down to the point where the base of the brake pads dig into the brake discs, causing irreparable damage.


Think you need a mechanic to take a look at your brake calipers? There are thousands of trained specialists in our network who can diagnose the problem for you.