Updated at: 23-07-2022 - By: Lucas

In today’s traffic circumstances, a brake system failure is particularly risky. This is especially true if the brake caliper is not releasing, forcing the brake pad into the disc. Generally, this is caused by the hydraulic piston failing to return.

You can detect this aspect when, during braking, your car is dragged to one side, and to stop you need a wider space than usual.

Other indicators include pushing the brake pedal with greater effort than usual, feeling the smell of smoke after braking, and achieving the desired speed slower than before.

If that’s the case then your brake caliper may be failing since it’s not releasing and you need to fix this as soon as possible.

As part of the disc braking system, the caliper is vital. During braking, it attaches and secures the brake pads, ensuring their mobility. A brake caliper might be either floating or fixed at the present.

Floating calipers normally consist of at least one piston, sometimes two, placed on the same side of the braking disc. A screw holds the steering joint to the support, and the support in turn is fastened to the caliper housing. Brake pads are installed to the caliper bracket.

The fixed caliper has pistons on both sides and doesn’t move when you hit the brakes. Instead, pistons on both sides move against the rotor.

For further information, check your owner’s handbook. This might help you not only identify your caliper type but other parts as well. If you don’t have this guide, you can check your dealer, they are not that expensive.

Special springs are utilized to position brake pads in guide grooves effectively. Whenever the brake pedal is squeezed, the piston leaves the cylinder and engages the inner brake pad. Following that, the caliper bracket travels along the guide pins to tighten the outer brake pad on the disc.

The pistons are situated on both sides of the brake disc in calipers with fixed design, and there are no guide pins. As a result, during braking, the liquid under pressure is transferred to both the inner and outer plates simultaneously, causing them to move. Spacer springs keep the plates from contacting.

Why is the brake caliper not releasing?

What Causes Brake Calipers To Not Release

The most typical cause of a brake caliper that is not releasing is its seizing or sticking. A sticky brake caliper can be caused by dirt or other substances, improper brake fluid, faulty brake pads installation, worn caliper, and bent brake discs.

We shall cover all these factors below.

Exposure to moisture and dirt

Pistons and guiding pins cannot move freely due to dirt collection. The caliper is jammed because of corrosion caused by moisture. It is more likely that the piston and pin will fail if the protective rubber sleeve that is meant to shield the moving parts from the harsh environment is destroyed.

If the braking fluid hasn’t been replaced for a long period of time, the piston and pin can become corroded.

Using a poor lubricant or not using any at all

A high-temperature-resistant lubricant must be used to lubricate the guiding pins. Rubber parts are damaged when grease that isn’t trustworthy dries out or spills. The guiding pin is immobilized in an inflated sleeve due to the resistance it faces.

Brake discs are bent

You may notice that your brake pads begin to stick when the temperature suddenly changes.

Worn caliper

A caliper may stick or tilt due to a worn casing or piston surface. The moving parts get impeded in their motion because of the buildup of dirt in the wear zones. The entrance of air accelerates corrosion.

Worn brake pads and discs

Using worn discs and pads might cause the caliper to stick, among other issues.

Brake pads are installed wrong

Rechecking your brake pads is necessary if you recently installed new pads and notice signs of squealing or grinding.

Using an inadequate brake fluid

Too viscous a fluid keeps the pistons from returning to their original position. When the improper brake fluid is used, pistons composed of polymeric or composite materials may bulge.

Exposure to strong chemicals

Rubber sleeves wear out more quickly when the system isn’t properly maintained, which is why it’s important to keep the tires properly inflated.

Symptoms of the caliper that is ticky or not releasing

  • Greasy patches on the exterior or inside of the rim, indicating a DOT fluid leak and a drop in the expansion tank’s level;
  • Sudden, spontaneous sideways movement of the automobile after braking – when the tires are properly filled and the suspension is in good working order;
  • The principal sign of a scenario where the piston is forced in and does not return to its normal position is rattling after releasing the brake pedal.
  • The discs become extremely hot and emit a horrible burning odor, even if the braking was not done suddenly or strongly

How to prevent the brake caliper from not releasing or sticking?

What Causes Brake Calipers To Not Release-3

Clean the caliper when replacing brake pads

Clean the brake system components and check the seals’ condition after changing the brake pads or every 5-6 months. In the event that a seal is destroyed, it should be replaced as soon as possible.

Avoid replacing the brake fluid too rarely

Over time, water is known to accumulate in the braking fluid. This affects braking performance and determines the corrosion of the pistons inside the vehicle.

Avoid aggressive driving style

Driving on a road with several twists necessitates constant braking pedal pressure. Sudden acceleration and deceleration should be avoided in normal circumstances, nevertheless Overheating of the braking system will be minimized as a result of this.

Corrosion of the caliper can be delayed or prevented by painting it with a special high-temperature resistant paint. To clean and degrease the surface, sandpaper should be used.

Your brake caliper will be protected from damage as well as looking better thanks to the paint.


When it comes to auto maintenance, brake calipers are a need. The brake system’s efficiency and your and your passengers’ safety are guaranteed by its flawless performance.

When the brake caliper is damaged and does not release, the vehicle’s brakes may fail. I hope these tips have helped you keep your brake caliper in good working order.