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Sticking Brake Problems- 97 Toyota Camry

I drive a 1997 Toyota Camry with 210,000 miles on it. Recently, my brakes were grinding. My ex-mechanic father said he would replace them. When he took the wheel off, he found that the calipers were bound and had been for awhile, as the rotors and pads were metal on metal (whoops). Both sides were completely replaced- pads, rotors, and calipers (he figured if one caliper was binding, the other was or could be soon, though the wear wasn’t as bad). He bled the brakes and things were ok for about a month and a half.

My new issue is that the brakes are binding on my drive home from work (after it sits outside for 7-10 hours). The car lugs along. I pull over, try pumping the pedal (which is very stiff) and then make my way home, where my boyfriend takes the car around the block and does something magic and the brakes are no longer stuck. They aren’t stuck the next morning, but are when I get in the car at the end of the work day. The wheel wells smell strongly of burning rubber as well.

Things we have checked (based on Dad’s advice):

We’ve jacked up both front wheels and the tires spin. They spin less easily when the brake binding problem is present, but they still spin.

We’ve checked the suction, the hoses that connect the booster to the engine, and the brake booster- all appear ok.

The brake fluid levels are fine.

The pedal remains stiff when you put the car in neutral and even when you turn it off.

So what do I do next? We’re semihandy and I’d like to drive this car a bit longer, though I’ve started the replacement car search.

You might want to check if the rubber hoses going to the calipers have broken down internally. When this happens a piece of rubber can break off the hose and hang in the hose. This piece of rubber then acts like a check valve. It allows hydraulic pressure to the caliper pistons when the brake pedal is applied, but the pressure remains on the pistons when the brake pedal is released.

Pump the brake pedal several times, then crack the bleeders open at each caliper. If brake fluid shoots out of the bleeders, suspect the rubber hoses to the calipers.


When you have the binding problem evident, crack the caliper bleed screws and see if the bind is released.

If so, close the bleed screw and get the problem to appear again. This time unbolt the master cylinder from the brake booster. Do not disconnect the lines at this time. If the binding releases, you have narrowed the problem to the booster not returning to fully retracted position.

If the bind still remains, reattach the master cylinder and crack the line at the master cylinder to the front calipers. If the bind disappears, you have a problem with the master cylinder.

If the binding still remains, retighten the line loosened on the master cylinder and loosen the lines leading from the ABS unit to the calipers.

If the binding still remains, the problem is most likely a restricted flexible brake hose.

After all this trouble shooting don’t forget to rebleed the front brakes and test the effectiveness of the brakes.

Hope this helps.