Brakes broke!

While on vacation, I have the right rear brake pad collapse on my 2003 astro van. I replaced it by depressing the caliper cylinder. The next time I drove the car, the caliper cylinder stuck against the break and I was forced to replace the caliper. When I got home from vacation, I replaced the left rear brake pad by the same procedure and it is now also sticking and overheating. Am I doing something wrong that is causing damage to the caliper? Thank you so much for your help!

If the vehicle has rear disc brakes, the caliper piston isn’t compressed into the caliper. Instead a tool is used to rotate the piston back into the caliper bore such as this one.

If you do attempt to compress the piston back into the caliper, it’ll damage the parking brake adjustment screw within the caliper resulting in a non-functioning caliper which then will require replacement.


You probably have one or more flexible lines that need to be replaced. I think there are three of them for the rear brakes on this vehicle, one at each caliper and one coming from the frame to the rear axle. If you want to cheap out and gamble with your brakes, replace the center one (from the frame to the rear axle) since both sides seem to be affected. If you want to do it the right way, replace all three of them. After all, they are nearly ten years old and are probably already deteriorated enough to warrant replacement.

@Tester: This one doesn’t appear to have spin back calipers:

Sound advice, though.

@Tester- the van’s parking brake assemblage is completely seperate from the main brakes on this model.

@mark9207- I don’t think the problem is the lines, considering that the the right side has had no problems since I replaced the caliper, and the problems with the left side didn’t start until I replaced the break pad.

Any more help would be appreciated.

You’d be surprised at how many issues like this can be caused by those innocent-looking and often overlooked flexible brake hoses. I have seen it a lot. Many times, people will replace calipers and other expensive components in a fruitless attempt to get an apparent dragging caliper issue to go away. Many times, the cause of the caliper drag and consequential damage to other parts is a steel bracket intended to keep the hose away from moving parts. The steel bracket will rust over time, strangulating the hose and restricting flow. If you have any hoses on your van that have a bracket like the one shown in this link, it’s a good idea to replace them every few years, before they start causing problems:

When you squeezed the pistons back into the caliper, did you open the bleeder and allow the fluid to escape or did you force it back into the master cylinder? 9 years old, probably has around 100K miles on it…Nothing lasts forever…Those caliper pistons have rubber boot/seals on them. Were those seals intact? Which brings us back to those flex-lines which can and do swell up internally and block return fluid flow…