One of the essential components of the braking system is the calipers. But what role do calipers play in the braking system? A caliper slows down a car by creating friction between the rotors and the wheels. To fully understand this, let us have taken an in-depth look at how calipers actually work.
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How calipers work
Most automobiles use a disc braking system, especially in the front wheels. In this system, metals discs or rotors are attached to wheels. These rotors spin with the wheel. Calipers create friction between the rotors and the car’s wheel. They suspend brake pads near the rotors. When force is applied on brakes, the master cylinder exerts hydraulic pressure on the pistons which in turn press the pads against the rotor. When it stops, so does the wheel. The calipers allow the brake pads to pull away from the rotor when a brake pedal is released.
Types of calipers
Floating Calipers have one or two pistons located on the inboard side of brake rotors. They move in and out relative to brake rotors. When you apply the brakes, the piston pushes the calipers. Brake pads create friction on either side of the rotor.
Fixed calipers have better performance and hence more expensive. As the name suggests, fixed calipers do not move. Instead, they have pistons that are placed on opposite sides of the rotor.
Signs of a faulty caliper
Vehicle pulling to one side
When you press the brake pedal, hydraulic pressure from master cylinder makes pistons inside the brake calipers to move in and out. When the pistons in one of the front wheel are damaged by corrosion, dirt or debris, the brake pads will fail to come in contact with the rotor hence causing the vehicle to pull away from the damaged side after braking. Similarly, the brake pads can fail to release the rotor. In this case, you will realize that they will tend to pull toward the damaged side when you apply brakes.
If your calipers develop problems, you will hear noises from the damaged part. In fact, you are likely to hear this metallic rubbing noise when the brakes are not in use. Failure to repair this problem can lead to complete wheel lock hence preventing wheels from moving.
Brake pad wear
Faulty calipers can result in uneven brake pad wear. To be precise, the brake pads will tend to wear more on one side of the car than the other.
Other signs of a damaged caliper are clunking sound and brake fluid leakage.
If you notice any of these signs be sure to contact a qualified technician as soon as possible, failure to fix the problem could lead to more costly repairs, also, risking an important component of your car’s safety.
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