Sticky brakes

This one should be easy but I feel the need to check. Lately the brakes on my GMC sierra pick up truck has been sticking. Not badly but ever so little. Seems to happen most when it has been parked and when i put it into drive it doesn’t move. If I let it sit there for a moment the brakes release and it does just fine after that. If I hit the gas and go I get the same result. what do you think? Calipers??

No mention of year of the truck, have you ever had the old brake fluid flushed out in favor of new brake fluid? Certainly sounds like a sticking caliper, one or more. If this is a 1st time in the morning, it could be rust on the disks. If the brakes are sticking all the time, every stop and start then it is the calipers.

Sometimes the rubber section(s) of the brake lines deteriorate and collapse internally and in effect hold the pressure on the caliper. You need to get someone to check out your brakes. Likely new pads, new or surfaced rotors, and new or rebuilt caliper(s) will get you fixed up. Basically a 4 wheel brake job, unless you can isolate the offending wheel and just focus on fixing that problem. If one wheel has a problem others are likely in the same shape, therefore you might be looking at a 4 wheel job.

Old brake fluid can “attract” moisture to the point where the inside of the calipers can get rusty and stick. So, if you get a brake job, new fluid would be a good idea too.

Are you just talking about a sticking parking brake?

Are you sure you’re talking about sticking brakes? As in, you hit the gas and you can feel the torque going to the wheels, but it won’t move? Or are you saying that you put it in drive, hit the gas, and it just revs up as if its in neutral?

I don’t get what you’re saying here. “If I hit the gas and go I get the same result.” The same result as what? What actually happens?

The truck is a 2006 model with only 70,000 miles on it. And indeed the brakes are what is sticking, not the parking brake. “the same result” means the brakes release and i roll off smoothly.

I might add that the truck is only driven on the weekends and sits idle the rest of the time.

So you put it in drive, and you can feel the truck actually trying to pull, but it feels like it is being held in place? Or you put it in drive and it doesn’t even feel like its trying to pull?

When it goes does it feel like it lets go all of a sudden? Or does it feel gradual? Any noise or jolt or bump?

Go for a drive and use the brakes as normal…when you get home after say a 20 minute ride…go out and feel the lug nuts on each wheel…Got any HOT ones? If so theres your culprit…prob need a new caliper somewhere… I believe it was Cigroller who told me that the slight piston retraction is a function of a healthy caliper to piston O ring seal…the flexible o ring is squarish…and when you let off the brakes this o-ring actually pulls the piston back into the caliper ever so slightly…when the seal hardens up due to age or dirty brake fluid…it wont pull the piston back in and off the rotor…and they stick.

The other test is to move the truck slowly in drive and at say 2 Mph…put her in neutral and let i t coast to a stop…if it actually comes to a positive stop and doesnt kind of freewheel backwards again…you got a sticking caliper…Do that and the lug nut feel test and let us know…


If you are talking about the brake pedal itself sticking after you apply it and not returning up again unless you pull it up with your foot, I would suspect a bad power brake vacuum booster. Had that once on my Pontiac.

Cigroller, when I put the truck into drive it does indeed try to pull but is being held into place. after a few seconds the brakes release slowly and smoothly. No noise or jolts. After that it may do it again if I apply the brakes hard. But after I drive for a few minutes it doesn’t do it again.

I would tear down both front and rear. Clean and relube all of the lube points. This is especially the case for the caliper slides. If they are drums in the rear this also means the auto adjusters but also checking all of the hardware for issues.

After doing that, if the stickiness persists I’d replace the flexible lines at each wheel. On an older truck I’d say to do it anyway, but this one is a smidge young to expect those to be degraded.

Changing out the fluid as noted, is never a bad idea.

I’ll try these things. Thanks for the help guys!!

I’m sorry, but I find both the test and diagnosis a trifle quick.

What you’ve described are your sense of things from the drivers seat. If you haven’t gotten in the car, started it, put it in neutral and then tried letting it roll or pushing the car to see if it is the brakes that are locked, then I really hate to assume it’s the brakes just because the truck isn’t moving immediately upon shifting into gear. As Honda Blackbird points out, you aren’t even sure if it’s one wheel or all wheels. A little more trouble involves jacking up the truck and checking each wheel before powering up for a positive brake ID.

You state that it isn’t the parking brake, but I am unclear how you determined this. You have drum brakes in the rear for your parking brake, I believe and a rusted or bent cable can cause a moment’s stickiness on release. And unlike the hydraulic driving brakes, will not give you any trouble once released.

A similar issue happens whenever moisture gets into the parking brake cable (condensation, splashed, whatever) and freezes in the winter, especially during overnight, it will cause the parking brake to stick.

I wonder if you have 4-wheel drive and what kind of rear is installed (locking rear, etc.). A problem with either your transmission fluid, car’s gearing computer program can cause a hesitation in engaging when the fluid is cold.

If your checks identify it as a brake issue and it’s all four wheels you may need to replace the master cylinder. Check all of your vacuum lines too.

Caveats aside; Cigroller’s maintenance recommendations are excellent and perhaps overdue for a truck with 70,000 miles. Expect some ugly looking fluid coming out of those brake lines if you haven’t had them flushed before this. Check your particular truck’s maintenance specifications regarding the anti-lock brake system before starting your brake fluid change.

Good point all, ATEDK. This is merely to give me a starting point to see what is indeed wrong. I assumed the parking was not an issue because the parking brake has never been applied. Never use it. My first step will be to jack up the truck and see if I can identify which wheel is the culprit and go from there. I will for sure flush out the fluid .