How to Tell When Your Brake Callipers Need Replacing

Charlotte Phillips, 2 months ago

3 min read

  • Brakes
  • Maintenance
Brake calipers

WhoCanFixMyCar outlines the function of your brake callipers and how to tell when they need replacing.

Brake callipers are a crucial part of a car’s braking system. This guide explains how they work, how long they last, and why they sometimes fail.

Contents

What does a brake calliper do?

How often does a brake calliper need to be replaced?

How do you know when a brake calliper goes bad?

What sound does a bad brake calliper make?

Can you drive with a bad brake calliper?


What does a brake calliper do?

Brake callipers reduce the rotor's spin inside the wheel by squeezing the brake pads against the discs when the brakes are applied.

Brake disc diagram

That’s why your brake callipers must be fully operational - without them, your car won’t be able to come to a stop. While most front callipers are dual-piston, many vehicles use single-piston callipers on the rear brakes because less braking force is needed to slow the car down.


How often does a brake calliper need to be replaced?

Brake callipers are designed to last. Realistically, you can expect to get between 75,000 and 100,000 miles out of them, and even though they are one of the more resilient parts of your braking system, they can still fail prematurely.

Brake calipers

How do you know when a brake calliper goes bad?

Signs that one of your brake callipers may have gone bad include:


What sound does a bad brake calliper make?

You will often notice unusual sounds when your brake callipers start to fail. For instance, you might hear a rubbing sound when letting go of the brake pedal. If the problem continues, it can become a squealing, scraping or metallic grinding noise.

A grinding noise when applying the brakes is likely due to your brake calliper and brake disc rubbing against each other.


Can you drive with a bad brake calliper?

In short, you should avoid driving a car with bad callipers. Not only would this be extremely dangerous for you, your passengers, and other road users, but if you choose to continue, you could cause further damage to your brake 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 callipers? There are thousands of trained specialists in our network who can diagnose the problem for you.

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