The main issues that cause brakes to lock up and not release

09 July 2019 / Lindleys Autocentres

Identifying issues with your vehicle can be difficult, especially if you are not familiar or experienced with mechanical systems. Establishing problems and figuring out the solutions usually takes years of knowledge and understanding of your vehicle inside and out.  

As you know, the brakes on your car are extremely important. Since they are used a lot during your travels, they happen to be one of the functions that require more servicing due to frequent wear and tear. 

In this article, we will cover the main issues that cause brake sticking. 

Identifying the causes

The first thing you should do if you believe you have brake issues is to check the brake fluid level. What you are looking out for is the quality of the fluid and to see if there is a sufficient amount inside the reservoir. You also need to check for any leaks

If your brake pads have worn down this too can cause a stiff brake pedal. This is because there is not enough friction made between the brake pads and the brake disc. You will generally hear a grinding sound whenever you brake. 

Another issue that prevents your brakes from disengaging properly is when your brakes are dragging. The grinding of the two metals within the brake’s system will generate a burning smell and can cause extreme damages. 

The most common causes of your brakes not releasing is a seized caliper or brake pad. This typically occurs due to rusting or ageing. Typically, you will notice your vehicle pulling to one side when you press down on your brakes. 

More about seized brake caliper

Although your brake calipers are one of the most fundamental parts within your car’s braking system, they are very susceptible to faults and complications. The pistons located inside your brake caliper are prone to seizing if they have not been maintained correctly and can cause your vehicle’s braking capability decreases.

Your brake calipers have to withstand the many adverse changes in temperature as your accelerate and brake your vehicle. This constant change can have a negative impact on the piston and cause it to decay (harden or crack). When left too long, moisture can seep into the caliper's piston and cause the piston to erode - leading to the seizing. 

Typically, seizing will occur when your vehicle is not in frequent use. The main reason for this is because when you brake, the moisture on your discs are usually cleared away. Generally, you can tell when your brake calipers need replacing when you notice that your brake pads have worn down excessively. Worn down brake pads will lead to damages on your disc brakes. 

Unfortunately, if one of your brake calipers has seized up, the working discs and pads on the other side of the vehicle will have to take over. This is why you may feel your car pull to one side whenever you brake hard (which can cause you to become a hazard on the road). If left for a prolonged period of time, the working brakes will eventually begin to overheat from the excessive usage and one day fail - causing you to spend more when you do decide to fix or replace your brake system.

Therefore, we stress that if you notice any signs that your calipers are sticking, you get them checked by a local garage as soon as you can. Faulty or failing brakes should not be taken light-heartedly as the dangers of them are very serious.  


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