A loose caliper is still drivable but it’s best to avoid it. A loose caliper makes it that the brake doesn’t work properly. So stopping the car becomes hard. Failing to stop in some cases can lead to accidents. So you should not drive a loose caliper.
Problems Caused Inside Caliper
Caliper is what holds the brake pads to the rotor. So having a problem with the caliper will cause the brake to not function properly. The main two problems caused by a caliper are loose and stuck caliper.
Loose Caliper || Cause & Effect
Most of the time, if the caliper becomes loose it is because it is not installed properly. When installing, you have to make sure the torque pressure of the caliper bolt matches the instructed torque. If the torque pressure is less than instructed then the bolt will come loose as you use it and even fell off.
Other than torque pressure, worn-out brake pads and rotor can cause damage to the caliper if left alone without changing. Then this damaged caliper gradually becomes loose. Also, rusting can cause the bolt to become loose causing a loose caliper in the long run. To prevent rusting you can use brake caliper paint.
A loose caliper will cause some loss in brake grip. The caliper is placed optimally to make sure when pressing the brake, it pushes the brake pads against the rotor. But loose caliper doesn’t do that properly since their placement is loosened. So stopping the car becomes harder.
Stuck Caliper || Cause & Effects
But again, if the caliper bolt’s torque pressure is more than instructed then there is a chance that it will become stuck while using. A stuck caliper also causes the same problem as the loose caliper. Stuck caliper is more common than loose caliper too.
When the caliper is tighter than normal, after pressing the brake, it doesn’t retract properly. So some parts of the brake pad stay touched against the rotor. It causes the brake pad and rotor to wear down quickly. The car becomes harder to handle and driving becomes more difficult.
Keeping a stuck caliper will harm the whole brake system of the car. A stuck caliper continuously generates more heat than normal. The extra heat can burn the rotor and make an unpleasant sound too.
Since it is always touching the brake rotor, it will wear down the rotor quickly. Sometimes it can even break the rotor. It will also decrease the efficiency of your car and you will need more fuel per km for the same reason.
How Do I Know I Have Loose Caliper? || Loose Caliper Symptoms
There are a few ways to know that the caliper has become loose. Mainly you have to be aware of the sound your car is making.
Beware of Unwanted Sound
If you hear high-pitched noise while breaking it can be a sign that you have a loose caliper in your car. Other than that, sudden impact, squealing, and metallic rubbing sound when breaking can also be a symptom of a loose caliper.
These kinds of sounds can also be caused by other parts like a non-bed in the brake. So you cannot be certain that you have a loose caliper just because you heard a high-pitched sound. But you need to check up on the caliper to make sure it is not loosened if you see or hear any symptoms of the loose caliper.
Rattling Can Lead to Loose Caliper
If you face rattling in your car, then it is usually caused by the exhaust system. But because of this rattling, the caliper can also become loose. So it is better to do a checkup on the caliper when you are going to fix the rattling problem.
Brake Grip Loss
If you find your car is losing the brake grip or the grip is less than before then there is a chance of having a loose caliper. Of course, this can happen because of a worn-out brake pad or rotor too. But if the brake pad and rotor are fine then it is pretty certain that the loose caliper is the cause for this.
How Do I Tighten a Loose Caliper?
If you have a loose caliper then you just need to fix the alignment and tighten the screw properly. To do that, first, take off the entire brake caliper bolt. Clean the bolt and hole if necessary. You can use a thread cleaner to rethread the bolt hole.
Now install back the brake system component. You can also change the brake system and get a new one if you want. While installing it, make sure you are following the instruction on how much torque pressure the bolt should have. If it is not followed properly, the loose caliper problem will be back in a few days.
So, Can I Drive a Loose Caliper?
No, you shouldn’t drive a car with a loose caliper. The car will still run but it isn’t safe to drive. A loose caliper will not press the brake pads properly against the rotor as we have discussed before. So it causes less brake grip. But it can also be the reason for a break fail which can have a devastating effect.
And even if it works and stops the car with less grip, it will harm the brake system of the car. If the brake pad wobbles inside the caliper when breaking then it can cause a lot of stress on the rotor and the pads. This will cause premature brake wear.
If not addressed, you may need to change the brake pads and even the rotor sooner than expected. A brake rattle can also cause the wheels to become loose which can have complications of its own. So yes, the car is still drivable with a loose caliper but it’s best to address the problem before driving.
Can you drive without a brake caliper?
Ans: No, without a caliper all the brake fluid will leak and the brake will stop working completely.
Is a loose brake caliper dangerous?
Ans: Yes it is very dangerous. A loose caliper can cause the car to not stop properly and damages the brake pad and rotor. So it is dangerous.
How do you fix a loose brake caliper?
Ans: Usually changing or tightening the caliper bolt fixes the loose caliper problem. You should clean the area too if you are changing it.
Loose caliper and stuck caliper both are problems that can be dangerous for the user. So you should fix the loose caliper as soon as possible. If not addressed soon, it can lead to unsafe driving conditions and damage to the brake system which will become very costly to fix.