Sticking Caliper?



Right front brake caliper (and wheel) get very hot SOMETIMES - after driving. Sometimes I drive 15 miles and no excessive heat, other times the same trip (in reverse) makes the brake very hot (with the smell of burning if I continue to drive much further). Can there be a condition that makes a caliper STICK intermitently? The only difference I can think of is the first 15 miles I drive the truck is very cold after parking out doors for several days - resulting in no excessive heat. Once at work I park in doors (60 degrees F) and I get the HOT brake when I reach home 15 miles later. I also notice a Lopeing (sp?) sensation in the ride about the last 3/4 mile. Is the calpier sticking, or am I experiencing some other problem?


The pads slide on two pins. If those pins have excessive dirt/grime this will cause the calipers to stick. Remove the pins (which may require you to remove the calipers) and clean up the pins good with a wire brush or wire-wheel on a grinder. Then reinstall…making sure you grease the pins very well.


Especially if the truck is more than 10 years old, the brake hoses can deteriorate internally and cause restriction to return brake fluid. Changing the brake hoses will fix this.


Thank you for the suggestion hellokit.

Hoses (both front) on this 2002 F-250 Super Duty 4x4 have been changed. I thought the problem was fixed, but the second trip resulted in more hot right front brake.

This weekend I shall disassemble and clean and lubricate both front calipers with the high temp Brake Grease. I will post the results.


To determine if there is a restriction in the brake hose, line, caliper, loosen the caliper bleed screw, attach a clear plastic hose to the bleed screw nipple, hold the clear hose while someone slowly presses the brake pedal (with the engine OFF). If the brake fluid comes out in a little stream, there isn’t a restriction out (at least, one way), and, probably, not in the return. If the stream isn’t smooth, and requires extra pressure, there is likely a restriction somewhere (in the brake caliper, a kinked line, debris in the hose, line, or master cylinder).
Ford has a Technical Service Bulletin on your truck for Brake Pull, TSB 03-19-10. It may help.


Saturday I dissassembled and cleaned both fron calipers. Pins looked pretty good, but I used the wire wheel grinder to make 'em look like new. Greased really well. I also took the time to wash off and blow off the dust and particulates that cling to the piston area. The rubber boots (seals) look good with the proper multiple folds, and no cracks or rips and no sign of leaks. I did notice that the metal backing plate on the Pads was jammed into their proper mounting area with what I thought was a bit too tight a fit. At first I could not budge them much (budge them off the location where they were up against - or nearly so - to the Rotor). As best I could (with the Backing Plates and Pads still in place - but a bit pulled away from the clamping position) I cleaned the backing plate locating area and applied a tiny bit of grease to assist in the movement (releasing) of the Pad away from the Rotor. First test drive after all this was about 1 mile. No noticible heat concerns. Weddnesday I can get another crack at driving a bit further to see (hopefully) the heat problem is now resolved.


I hope the brake problem is solved. If not, the previous times the brakes overheated could have damaged the caliper piston seal. Auto Zone auto parts has a re-manufactured brake caliper for $63 ($42 core charge).
I hope you are not one of those mechanics who, “Don’t need no stinking book!”; but, that you are using the repair manual. Pay particular attention to the section on the ABS (anti-lock braking system). Some vehicles require that ABS be re-set with a computer interface at the dealer, after the brakes have been worked on.


you never mentioned it but, when were the pads changed last? i ask because typically when you are at the end of the brakes life the caliper pistons are at their maximum travel and that is when they usually stick, since they are fully (or almost full) extended, and any grime or gunk around the seal can cause them to jamb up and this mimics the problem you were having.

also, you got into this a little bit, but you do have to clean the rails of rust and gunk, because sometimes the pads rub in the guide rails and that can restrict their free movement just like the caliper pins. (if all these things have a little bit of friction it all adds up to sticky brakes) your mention of thoroughly cleaning all the brake dust and gunk off is really correct for getting a good, noise free brake job.


The previous time the pads were changed were with-in 10,000 miles (18 months previous). I do not drive this truck too much, and I think that fact that it has sat in the yard (on a dirt / gravel drive) for up to 2 months at a time in all kinds of weather with no driving has contributed greatly (if not totally) to the rust / gunk build-up I am experiencing.

Well, the Pads do move a bit at this point - that is to say they are not “jammed” into the position up against the rotor - but can come away a fraction of an inch. My own concern (cowardice??) is why I have not yet taken this out for a proper long test drive. I simply can not spend the time on it again if I run into a problem - particularly far from home - where I would prefer NOT to drive it home with the hot brake condition. Saturday I will do laps around the block to build up my resolve. I do think the problem was in the gunk hanging up the pads.


Thank you for the insight on the ABS / computer issue. I have been trying all the less expensive - do-it-yourself items before plopping down $375 for the dealer to replace BOTH calipers - they STRONGLY RECOMMEND replacing BOTH - not just one - they claim it is to have the brakes work cosistanly one with the other. Naturally they would know about the computer adjustments that would be needed.

Would an ABS problem show up with a warning light on the dash?

Thanks, Bob


Well after all the fussing around I did not get much of an improvement in the SOMETINES HOT Brake. The Ford Dealer replaced: (2) Front Calipers, all Front Pads, (2) Front Rotors. The truck operates just fine. Thank you all for the help and Suggestions.