Brake Caliper Repair: How to Identify Which Brake Caliper is Malfunctioning

  • 2-6 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 50-250
What You'll Need
Floor jack
Jack stands
Socket Set
DOT specification brake fluid
Brake parts cleaner
Shop rags
Blunt clamps

When a brake caliper repair is needed, you have to identify which brake caliper is malfunctioning. This can result in the loss of brake fluid. Signs often reside in wet spots around the front of your vehicles wheels. This article will discuss how to isolate and identify the brake caliper that needs repairing.

Step 1 - Check for Caliper Pull

Many times, you can easily determine which which caliper is defective in your vehicle by simply doing what is called a caliper pull test. You can do this while you're driving your vehicle. While driving, apply the brakes and notice in which direction your vehicle pulls. If the vehicle pulls to the left, then the problem is usually with a right-side caliper or hydraulic flexhose.

Step 2 - Find the Defective Part

Once you know which side of the vehicle the problem is on, you can then determine which part needs to be replaced. Jack up vehicle and securely prop with jack stands. Open the bleeder valve that is on the caliper housing and then close it off. If the tire and wheel spins freely, then the problem is a defective hydraulic flexhose. If the wheel will not spin freely, the caliper piston is frozen and the caliper needs replacing.

Step 3 - Remove the Calipers

First, you want to turn the steering wheel of the vehicle all the way headed in one direction. Use the correct size of wrench or socket to loosen the 2 bolts that hold the caliper on the opposite side of the vehicle from which you have turned the wheel. Use a wrench to loosen the brake line to the caliper. Once this has been completed, clamp the fluid line off and remove the caliper bolts, including the hose. Inspect the calipers for wear and tear. If the calipers show signs of too much wear, then replace them. Remove the piston as well and look for signs of pitting in the steel or worn edges. If these symptoms appear, replace the pistons.

Step 4 - Reassemble the Caliper and Attach

Next, lube up the seal and the piston with brake fluid. After doing this, insert the piston into its proper place. You may now re-attach the brake hose. Apply a special brake glue to the backing plate of the new pads you have purchased. Then, place the pads into the caliper. Slide the caliper over the rotor and make sure you have secured it using the caliper bolts. Now tighten the brake hose back. These particular steps must be repeated to replace the caliper on the opposite side wheel as well.

Step 5 - Bleed Air from the System

Now you need to remove the cover that you originally placed on the master cylinder. After removing the cover fill the cylinder all the way up to the line and then replace the cover. One person needs to pump the brake pedal about 5 times and then hold it. Continue holding until the bleeder screw is secured. Now loosen the bleeder screw on the passenger side and allow some air to escape. Repeat this process until no air bubbles escape. You want to continue this process on the other side as well. Now replace the wheels and lower the vehicle. Torque the lug nuts.