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Sticking Front Brakes

02 Civic, 1.7L, 114K Found the front brakes sticking. I popped the bleeder open and got a little squirt out of the left side and a less of a squirt out of the right. I'm in the process of changing the pads which are on order from Rockauto. I took the existing pads off and lubed the pad guides/holding slots and it seemed to help but I felt them starting to drag again after a short test drive. Also they did not seem to respond properly with normal braking. How would I test the caliper(s)? It's got to be a bad caliper or master cylinder causing this and I just don't want to throw parts at it.


  • Pump the brake pedal several times then try turning the tires by hand. If they're hard to turn remove tires and pump the brake pedal again several times. Now crack open the bleeders. If brake fluid squirts out the problem might be with the brake hoses to the calipers.

    Over time these hoses can deteriorate internally where a hunk of rubber delaminates and hangs inside the brake hose. This hunk of rubber can act as a check valve. That is, when you apply the brakes the pads clamp the rotors. But when you release the brakes, that hunk of rubber prevents the hydraulic pressure from releasing the caliper pistons. So the brakes remain applied.

  • I agree with Tester about the rubber hoses. These are the most common cause of dragging brakes I have ever seen. Many people, including mechanics, needlessly replace calipers in a fruitless attempt to cure a dragging brake problem. Another cause other than what Tester mentioned is the steel bracket that mounts some of these hoses, which wraps around the hose. Those steel brackets sometimes rust, which constricts the hose and causes dragging brakes.
  • Take it for a drive and shoot the wheels with a temp sensor. Aluminum calipers can be a problem.
  • Sometimes a sticking caliper piston can be determined when compressing the pistons during a pad installation.

    This may come across as a piston that seems to be difficult to compress into the caliper bore. At 12 years of age, hardened caliper piston seals is a possibility.
  • Took the civic for a good test ride and after 10 miles, the brakes started dragging. Got out with the infrared thermometer and both sides were reading the same about 640 deg. measured right on the caliper on each side. They dropped to about 250 after a couple minutes. I purged the bleeder on both sides and was able to continue back.

    With the temp being the same on both sides, I'm assuming that both calipers are dragging with the master cylinder being the common point to both sides. Is it possible that both brake hoses are bad at the same time? Is this common?
  • You need to find a brake specialist with a good reputation. The master cylinder is not the common point to the two front brakes, there is no common point unless you consider the brake booster, and that would also affect the rear brakes.

    The brake system is an X feed type, meaning that there are two cylinders in the master cylinder, each one feeds one front brake and the opposite side rear brake.

    It would be odd for both front brakes to have the same problem at the same time. Do you have ABS and if so, have you tried unplugging the ABS module and test driving the car to see if the brakes start dragging? I don't really think it is the ABS, but it wouldn't hurt to try this test anyway. Its the only other common point besides the booster.

    Yes, both hoses can have this issue, it just doesn't seem like it would happen at the same time unless the brake fluid got contaminated some time in the past.

    Have you done a complete flush of the brake system?
  • Went through the entire brake system. Found the adjusters on the rears frozen due to rust. Looks like the rears wore out (metal on metal) the somebody put new shoes on and left the scored drums on. Replaced the adjusters and put new drums on...All good on the rear.

    Replaced both brake hoses and put new pads with new clips on the fronts. Lubed up the slide pins and completely flushed all the fluid. Took for a test drive and it's still dragging. Had to open the bleeder to get the vehicle back.

    The caliper pistons retracted easily while changing the pads but I guess one of them is dragging.
  • Sounds like you're due for a caliper.

    Even if the slides are free, if the rubber "square cut 'O' Riing" (I don;t know what Honda calls theirs) that distends when you press the brakes and then slightly retracts the pads when you release the pressure is tired (they are, after all elastomers), than you need a new caliper.......or to rebuild the old one if you're up to it.
  • Just one thing to check if brake work has been done before is to make sure the hose itself is not twisted and the lines on the hose are straight. If the caliper has been pulled off before it is possible that they got twisted when put back on which could cause some constriction. Otherwise might be a good idea just to replace the hoses while you are replacing the calipers just to be done with it.
  • Replaced both front calipers, pads, rotors, both brake hoses, lubed the pins up, and completely flushed the brake fluid. They are STILL sticking. I didn't want to throw parts at it but looks like that is what is happening. What's left? The master cylinder is the only thing left as far as I know. Would the master cylinder cause this?
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