What is a brake caliper and why is it important?
You probably know that most cars are equipped with disc brakes in the front and quite a few also come with disc brakes in the rear. What differentiates one system from the other are the components and their placement. In a drum brake system, almost all the components are placed inside the drum. In a disc brake system, there are two major housings which hold important components. The first is the disc and the second is what you can call the brake caliper.
Through the disc runs the wheel assembly while the brake caliper holds brake pads and pistons. When you press the brake pedal, the brake fluid flows to the calipers from master cylinder. This fluid pressurizes the piston inside the caliper, causing the brake pads to push against the rotors, thereby stopping or slowing your car. The brake calipers can house two or more pistons, depending on how effective a braking system needs to be employed.
Over time, calipers can become rusty, contaminated or begin to leak brake fluid. They absorb substantial heat from the braking system and gradually, this heat can weaken or destroy the seals inside calipers. Calipers are often serviced during a brake service job or as a part of routine car service. It is important to replace bad calipers to ensure proper functioning of brakes. Ignoring this problem can lead to safety issues, besides large expenses.
What are the symptoms of a failing brake caliper?
You may hear unnatural squealing noise from your brakes. Also, while braking, the car will pull hard right or left. Watch out if the braking feels soft or spongy that is the brake pedals seem easier to push than usual. If you notice clear fluid on the driveway or on the wheels, your car’s brake fluid is leaking.
Look out for these too
If you observe any of the above symptoms, contact a professional mechanic or car service center for an inspection. Usually, their service will involve:
- Inspection of brake calipers and/or replacement of brake pads, if needed.
- Inspection of brake rotors, brake line hoses, and replacement of brake fluid.
- Flushing of the brake system (if needed, topping up of brake fluid or replacement of the same).
To ensure brake calipers are in good shape, the first step is to get regular brake servicing done as advised by your car manufacturer. If you are using thin brake pads or rotors, it will damage the calipers. The brake fluid should be changed at regular intervals, about every 48,000 km or earlier (a look at master cylinder and/or the braking performance would tell you if you need to get brake fluid topped-up or not). If the brake pedal feels soft while pressing or clear brake fluid is leaking on your tires or on the driveway, then get your brake system checked without delay.
Now that you know why maintenance of brake calipers is crucial for the efficient functioning of brake system, take notice when you hear abnormal sounds while braking or see leakage of brake fluid etc. We at CarDekho would be happy to thoroughly inspect and replace your car’s brake calipers if required. You just have to log in on services.cardekho.com and avail of our services.