What Causes Brake Calipers to Fail

Only one of the primary components of a vehicle’s braking system doesn’t need regular maintenance. Brake calipers are not engineered or manufactured to need regular care.

But the other two maintenance items, the brake pads and brake rotors must be maintained. Brake pads need the most attention because of the wear from heat and friction.

How Long Do Brake Calipers Last

A set of brake calipers should last the life of the vehicle. But some maintenance is helpful in making calipers last.

In the area where the brake pads live, rust should be removed, and the area lubricated. This is typically done when the pads are replaced.

The dust covers which protect the caliper piston seals from the elements should also be inspected for damage. Any damage will allow moisture and dirt onto the seals and caliper pistons. This increases the risk of corrosion caused by rust or of seal failure from dirt.

Calipers are only replaced when damaged or when they fail to operate correctly. Several reasons exist for brake caliper failure.

Brake Calipers Failure Causes

A braking system is a harsh environment, exposed to the elements, dirt, rocks, and debris. They are also subject to and absorb the high heat generated when the brake pads contact the brake rotors.

  1. Made of metal, calipers and caliper pistons can rust. If the caliper pistons are corroded, they will not extend or retract smoothly in the caliper. Rust is especially tough where salt and sand are used during the winter months.
  2. The pistons can get stuck in a retracted position and be unable to engage the pad. Or, the piston can get stuck against the rotor and wear down the brake pad friction material, damaging the rotor.
  3. Damage to calipers and pistons comes from road debris, drying or cracking from weather, or deterioration due to age. When a caliper seal fails, it can leak brake fluid, and the brakes will lose hydraulic pressure. Because hydraulic pressure extends the caliper piston and brake pad against the rotor, the brakes won’t work.
  4. The caliper has some protection from the heat generated by the brake pads. The friction material, which is heat-resistant, insulates the caliper pistons, protecting them from the highest temperatures. If the friction material is worn down, the increased heat can boil the brake fluid and damage the seals from inside the caliper.

Overall, brake calipers are tough and durable. But be sure to inspect, clean, and lubricate them thoroughly when replacing brake pads and brake rotors.

About Goodyear Brakes

Goodyear Brakes manufactures premium quality brake bundles, calipers, rotors, brake pads and all the hardware required to successfully install brakes, all backed by a national warranty, decades of production experience and one of the best-known names in automotive excellence. The brake pads are manufactured in the USA using a proprietary green production process by a company with more than 50 years of experience in friction science. The Goodyear Brakes product line is available through Goodyear Brakes at Amazon, CarID, Buy Brakes and AutoAnything.

Goodyear (and Winged Foot Design) and Blimp Design are trademarks of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company used under license by FDP Virginia Inc., 1076 Airport Road, Tappahannock, VA 22560, USA. Copyright 2020 The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Goodyear Brakes and FDP Virginia are not responsible for its products when they are subjected to improper applications, installation, or accident.

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