One front brake locking up

2010 Dodge Grand caravan both front brakes have been acting up. The rotors would get so hot (over 415°f) any water would be turned into steam immediately. The brakes/rims would smell bad. When it first started, the passenger side was shaking after a general slow down and when I parked it shortly after, it was smoking and sounded like it was on fire! We were told the issue was bad calipers, brake hoses (ones next to caliper), and brakes. We replaced all those and nothing changed. Replaced the master cylinder as was told it could be that too, and now the original side (passenger) is still hanging up, but both sides are still getting really hot and still have a smell. Any suggestions?

It sounds like you’ve replaced everything (calipers, hoses, and pads both sides and master cylinder) that could affect braking up front. Possibly the wheel bearings were ruined when the brakes got hot.

Other than that, I’m at a loss…

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If the van has ABS brakes, I’d say the ABS has dirt in it or it has failed. Also you might have dirt in the lines to the front brakes.

I imagine it does have ABS, if it’s a 2010. I’m assuming the entire system has been bled (correctly) since the master cylinder has been replaced. I could be assuming too much, depending on who did the work…

Is it pretty common for the brakes to drag if the ABS module is failing? I thought you’d just have no ABS, or weak brakes?

Not that I’ve ever heard, but this van’s had everything else changed that could cause this. If I assume the work was done correctly, what else is left? …ABS and lines is about it.


What you are experiencing is a heavy van with undersized brakes.

The brakes on these vehicles get very hot under normal use.

And expect to replace the brake pads and rotors very often

I knew people who owned these vehicles that I serviced. And they couldn’t believe the short service life they were getting out of these brakes.


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Check for kinked brake lines. If good, now is the time to double check the work that was already done. Start by diagnosing the problem just as if there was no work done it at all. I think you may find a defective part or mistake in installation.


Are the rear brakes failing to release at all? Does this brake system have a proportioning valve?

The rear brakes have no issues. It is just the front passenger at this point.

Bled once when switching out the parts, and bled again when doing the master cylinder. It does have an ABS system, but no lights are on.

Has anyone checked the rear brakes?

Because if they’re not working right, the fronts are going to do all the braking.



Sounds like the ABS hydraulic control unit is causing the brakes to drag. Loosen the bleeder screw on the right front and see if the wheel then rotates freely.

I had a similar problem on my truck years ago, started immediately after the shoes replaced by a shop, brakes would be smoking hot after driving just a mile or two. The shop’s solution was for me to ignore the problem, their theory, eventually the shoes would wear down enough to clear the drums. Being a college student at the time, little money, no tools, and no place to do the work, that’s what I did, and after a few weeks the smoking stopped. I wouldn’t do it that way now of course, shop’s advice was quite dangerous, fluid may reach boiling point and no brake action at all.

In OP’s case, what I’d do is similar to Nevada’s post above, I’d jack the front wheels off the ground. With engine off, ad I could hand-rotate the front wheels very easily by hand, then I’d start the engine to see if that changed the situation. If the wheels were then very hard to turn by hand, I’d be guessing a problem with the power booster.

If in the first case the wheels were hard to turn even with engine off, would try removing various brake unions to get a clue where the problem was, starting with the rubber hose that attaches directly to the caliper. My guess is either a problem a collapsed brake hose, w/the ABS system, or if equipped, the proportioning valve. If this occurred immediately after shop work involving the brake hydraulic system, ABS problem should be considered very likely. If ABS suspected, first step is to make sure it is bled correctly, may require a specialized scan tool.

When they bled the brakes, did they just do it enough to get the pedal firm, or did they flush the lines first? If they did not clear the lines ,dirt may be clogging the return ports in the master cylinder.

Tester us right about the size of the brakes. I had a 1992 Plymouth Voyager short wheelbase and the brakes are pitifully small. I boiled the brake fluid in theBighorn Mountains and had to take a gravel escape road. I used the transmission to slow the van in the mountains the rest of that 8700 mile trip. Those old 3 speed torqueflytes were tough. The 2002 Town and Country I had had much bigger brakes.

The other possibility is that when the master cylinder was replaced a mismatch was created between it and the rod that connects it to the pedal and that closed off the return ports.

Also, find a new shop, I don’t like one that replaces everything in sight without diagnosing the problem.

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UPDATE: Thank you all for your help! After rotors were turned down, the problem seems to have stopped! But now it sounds like the wheel barring needs replaced. So could have been possibly both the rotor and barring.

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Calipers, hoses, and brakes?
I’m assuming brakes means pads?
I’m assuming rotors were turned during brake job?
Rotors needed turning again?
Or for the first time?

UPDATE: 8/27/22 The issue is happening again… This time it is heating up even higher and you can smell it as soon as step out of the car and it creeps into the vents of the car. I don’t understand what’s going on. Once I let off the break the car moves forward on its own without any gas or anything to make it go forward, so I don’t think it’s a break. Any suggestions ?!

Only after long freeway drives? Or does it happen after short medium speed drives too? Which wheel(s) are heating up? Front only? Rear only? etc …

If only one wheel is heating up, pretty good chance you’ve got a damaged rubber brake hose connected to that wheel. Other possibilities are a faulty ABS unit, the proportioning valve, the power booster, or the master cylinder.

You don’t think the heat is from the brakes? Have you felt the wheels to see if any are really hot after a drive?

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