Front Brake Repair: How to Prevent the Caliper from Sticking

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Impact wrench
Floor jack
Jack stands
Socket wrench
Brake cleaner
Brake anti-seize fluid

If you do not take care of any front brake repair issues that you may have you will wear out the pads and rotors too soon. This will then lead to more costly repairs that could have been taken care of beforehand. One of the problems that is quite common for many people front calipers that stick. This can happen because of simple dirt, rust, or pads that are not working properly. If you are experiencing a problem with your calipers, here are the steps to take to prevent them from sticking.

Step 1 - Raise Front End of Car

To get at the brake caliper you are going to have to remove the front tire. Loosen each lug nug slightly before jacking up the car. Use a heavy-duty floor jack and begin raising the front end of the vehicle off the floor. Place a jack stand, one on each side, on the frame of the vehicle, right behind the wheels, to keep the car secure while in the air. Never rely on the use of a jack to keep the car suspended.

Step 2 - Remove Tire

woman loosening lug nuts on a tire

Once the car is lifted in the air you can then use an impact wrench to remove the lug nuts from your front tire. Many newer vehicles have at least one locking lug nut that requires a key, typically located in your glovebox or near the spare tire. Keep the lug nuts together so you will know where they are when you have completed the project. Grab the tire and slide it off the of the lugs and place in an area away from the work space.

Step 3 - Spray Brake Cleaner

One way to keep your brake calipers from sticking is to give them a good spray with brake cleaner. There are times when road dirt, brake dust, and other particles will get into the calipers causing them to "gum" up and stick. Brake cleaner will help penetrate into the calipers and loosen them up.

Step 4 - Remove Calipers

Use your socket wrench and take the caliper off of the brake pad and rotor. Do not suspend the caliper with the brake line only. This can cause the line to break, or leaks to form. Hold it with a short piece of string or a bungee cord.

Step 5 - Sand Brake Pads

Once the caliper is free of the rotor you can pry out the brake pads. Sometimes rust will accumulate on the edges of the brake pad and cause the caliper to stick. Once you have the pad in your hands, use some 500 grit sandpaper and sand off any rust, or dirt. Sand it down until you see bare metal on the pad. Place them back in the brake caliper after you have finished.

Step 6 - Clean Pins in Caliper

caliper clip and pin

A simple pin located in the caliper can become dirty with grease and cause the whole assembly to stick. Use some anti-seize fluid on the pins and place them back into position.

Step 7 - Replace Calipers

Compress the calipers with a clamp and place it back onto the rotor.

Step 8 - Press Brake Pedal

Have someone press the brake pedal a few times to ensure that the calipers are working properly and are not sticking the rotor. Adjust the calipers as needed. Then put the tire back on and lower the car back down.