Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Can an accident cause a break caliper to hang up?

I was in a crash a couple weeks ago in my 2006 Toyota Highlander. I was driving straight about 25-30 mph when a car exiting a parking lot onto the road I was on drive straight into my rear passenger tire. The car was towed from the scene.

The body shop repaired the obvious damage but turning their test drive determined the front driver brake caliper was hanging up. Insurance is refusing to cover this additional work saying there is no way it was caused by the accident, it is just complete coincidence that it happened the first time the car was driven after the crash.

We had the car at our local mechanic 2 days before the accident for an odd noise. After inspection, that mechanic replaced the rear passenger wheel bearing, but saw no issues with any calipers. I had no issues with the brakes during the 2+ hour drive just before getting hit (we were returning home from out of state and hit 5 minutes from home.)

Is the insurance company right that there is no way this could have been caused by the impact and is just an unlucky coincidence? Or is it possible that the impact could have caused the problem?

Thank you for any help or advice you are able to provide.

The insurance company is full of beans. They will always try to get out of paying for any repair if they possibly can. A lot of strange things can happen when a vehicle is struck by another vehicle. The proof is that a mechanic had just inspected the vehicle and you drove it for over 2 hours before the accident with no problems.

I agree with Missileman–a lot of strange, apparently unrelated things can happen after a crash. All that energy goes somewhere and shakes everything up. Although it could also be an unlucky coincidence too. There’s really no way of knowing unless you can find some physical sign of damage.

Clearly the insurance company is responsible…and acting in the usual, reprehensible insurance-company manner.

I think your only option is to have the car repaired, get affadavids from the mechanic that repaired it as well as the one that did the test drive before the accident, and bring those and all the accident documentation to small claims court. If you bring the proper documentation you’ll almost surely prevail.

It’s sad that insurance companies behave this way. But your story is common…

What did ur car do after it was hit? Spin out? Continue on straight and stop? Did u hit a curb? I would think a loss of control might send u into some other obstacle? Like a tree?

That is not a question that can be answered over the internet. Can it happen, yes, but was the accident the cause, that takes a careful and thorough investigation by a qualified expert. The root cause of the caliper sticking has to be uncovered first.

Even then, when the root cause is uncovered, it may not be conclusive, but if it can be determined that the accident could be the cause, the other circumstantial evidence would probably support that conclusion.

My advice, tell the insurance companies adjuster that they can either do the repairs at a shop on their list, or you will do it at a shop of your choice and if there is proof that the accident was the source of the problem, they will be paying your shop for the repairs plus any other expenses that you incur pursuing the compensation.

Has the body shop determined that the CALIPER actually froze, or were the brake pads simply held against the rotor because of a faulty hose? I’d guess they did not make that determination, since they are a body shop and not a brake or mechanic’s shop.

I think what happened was that you hit the brakes harder in that instant of the crash than you had ever stepped on them before. In that instant, you caused the brake line going to left front caliper to rupture internally. When that happens, fluid can go out through the line under pressure from the pedal, but the small amount of pressure generated by the puck retracting back into the caliper can’t get back through the line. That is what usually causes a brake to “hang up”,. not a bad caliper. I’ve seen it many times. The rupture can’t be seen from the outside. The line has to be removed and checked with low air pressure.

In short, the accident may well have caused the brake to stay applied, but the flexible brake line or hose was probably on its way to oblivion anyway. Take it to a mechanic, and get their honest opinion. If I’m right, I wouldn’t bother fighting with the insurance company too much. They might make a case for you driving a car with marginal brake lines.