Your vehicle's brake calipers are designed to press brake pads against wheel rotors to slow the vehicle down when you hit the brake pedal. However, calipers can sometimes stick, which means they'll constantly be lightly pressing the brake pad down. That's a problem you'll have to have fixed right away, so here are just five common symptoms to watch out for.
1. Pulling to the Left or Right
Calipers will usually stick in only one wheel, which means one brake will be slightly depressed as you drive. As such, your vehicle may pull very slightly to the left or right. At first, this might be barely noticeable, but the problem should continue to get worse. You'll still be able to drive the vehicle, but you'll find it much harder to exert full control.
2. Increased Fuel Consumption
If one of your brakes is even slightly depressed as you drive, your vehicle will need to use more fuel, so one of the most common symptoms of sticking calipers is an increase in fuel consumption. Again, this problem may be minor at first and then gradually grow worse. When you find yourself stopping off more frequently for gas, visit a service centre to have the brakes checked and brake repairs performed if necessary.
3. Faulty Brake Pedal
Drivers grow familiar with how their brake pedal reacts to pressure, so any changes should be easy to spot. You might notice such a change if one of your brake calipers is sticking—the brake pedal will not come all the way up after you take your foot off it.
4. Excessive Heat
When a caliper is keeping a brake pad even slightly pressed down, friction is produced whenever your wheels are turning, and friction creates heat. If you think something might be wrong with your brakes, lightly place your hand against each wheel after a longer drive. Does one of those wheels feel much hotter than the rest? If so, a sticking caliper is probably to blame.
5. Sounds and Smells
All that heat is going to do damage within your wheel. Several parts can be worn down, including the bearings, and you'll eventually start to hear a screeching or grinding sound as the brake pad wears through and metal starts to grind against metal. At this point, your vehicle needs immediate attention to avoid needing to replace the rotors. You may also notice a smell of burning as you drive—this occurs when the brake pad is scorched.