Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

2009 Nissan Rogue - Calipers Seizing After 100,000 Km?

We bought a used 2009 Nissan Rogue about a year ago. According to the previous owner, all services were done at the local Nissan dealer.

About 4000 km after we bought it, my wife noticed that it was shuddering after she applied the brakes. So I took it to the dealer… and they said that the front calipers were seized and needed to be replaced. It only had 82,000 km or so (51,000 miles) on it then. The previous owners paid for the repair, which included new calipers, pads and rotors.

Fast forward to yesterday, and I was told by the independent garage that we take all of our vehicles to that one of the rear calipers had seized and needed to be replaced. The vehicle only has 104,000 km on it (about 65,000 miles). Again, the caliper had to be replaced, along with all pads and rotors on the rear end. When I commented to him that we’ve replaced 3 out of 4 calipers, he said that the other rear caliper looked like it had been replaced too.

My question to the group is - should calipers that have been serviced properly seize like that? I’m of the opinion that they shouldn’t if they’re being checked regularly and serviced properly.

Am I correct? Or not? I’ve owned a lot of cars in my lifetime, and this is the first time I’ve had seized calipers on any of them.


Your brake fluid may be contaminated. This can cause deterioration of seals and seizing of calipers. Most manufacturers recommend replacing the brake fluid every two years.

Have the brake fluid tested for contamination. It will probably test positive for contamination. Then have the entire system flushed and new fluid put in.

Here’s more info:

And get the fluid flushed every 2-3 years from here on.

+1 to the preceding comments.
The previous owner may have been one of those people who insist that their mechanic is trying to rob them when he recommends a brake fluid flush every 3 years or so.

As the OP has found out, skipping a brake fluid flush on a modern vehicle is a very bad way to try to save money.

Probably the contamination happened under the previous owner, who didn’t have the fluid changed. At least you got him to pay for repairs to the front brakes. Unfortunately the contaminated fluid was likely not detected/flushed out at that time.

I’m impressed by the prior owner’s having paid for the repairs. He/she is an unusually honorable person.

I agree with all the above comments, including the recommendation to have the fluid flushed out with fresh fluid every 3 years or so. Much of what determines the life of a caliper is dependent upon driving environment. If you drive on dirt or gravel roads a lot the calipers will have much more exposure than if you don’t. That isn’t something you can control, you simply use the vehicle on the roads you need it for, but it is a very real factor. I took an old pickup of mine on soft sand and gravel construction roads regularly for a few years to haul firewood. I didn’t surprise me when a caliper froze. Maybe two, I forget now.

There are several reasons why calipers can seize.
Pistons can seize in the caliper bores due to aged piston seals, contaminated fluid, etc.

Calipers can seize on the sliders which is more a result of age and environmental conditions.
While it’s seldom ever done, it’s not a bad idea to lube caliper slides now and then. That leads to weighing the cost of having someone do that particular chore against taking the chance they will never seize.

Flood cars, cars driven through standing water or mud a lot, and cars in the Rust Belt would be more prone to the latter.

As to regular servicing of calipers, you will only find that being recommended or done once in a blue moon.
That’s an additional expense at which most customers would probably balk and feel they’re being ripped off by the shop that would dare mention it.

No, this is not normal. My Corolla’s brakes are over 20 years old and never had a seized caliper even once. The calipers remain the ones original to the car. The only time I flush the brake fluid is when I replace the front pads or service the rear drums, part of the bleeding process, and even then I only do it for the circuit I’m working on. I’m not obsessive about the brake fluid’s cleanliness in other words. My thinking is the more often you open the brake system, the more likely you’ll get brake fluid contamination problems. So it’s best to leave it alone and closed up, and don’t mess with it unless there is a clear reason otherwise.

I expect at some point water got into the brake fluid and rusted the piston/bore surface in all the calipers. This water problem may have been corrected already since it appears your master brake cylinder isn’t suffering from seized pistons. I think there is a test of some sort for detecting water in brake fluid, you might ask that be done. It may be you are already done, what with replacing the three calipers, given the other one appears to have been changed out.

I too find the previous owner, well, let’s say ‘very compliant’, for his willingness to pay after you already had driven 4 K km since the used-car purchase.

I wonder if the previous owner knew there was an “issue” with the Rogue’s brakes (perhaps the reason for dumping it) and that’s why he agreed to pay for the front brake fix.