How do you know if you need the calipers replaced? I took my SUV in for servicing and was told my calipers needed to be replaced along with my brake pads and rotors. I knew the brake pads were going because there was a grinding kind of noise when I braked but from what I have read about calipers, they should last quite awhile? The car was braking normally just with some noise?? So How do you know if the calipers really need changing?

  • What make and model, and how much mileage?
    – tlhIngan
    Commented Nov 13, 2016 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


I've changed a few calipers over the years, here's what happened:

  • one of my front calipers was binding. The piston just wasn't retracting when I got off the brake pedal. It had to go.
  • another one sprung a leak. That's a no-no for brakes.
  • a pair of rear calipers had their bleeder screw seized into place. Tried my best to get them loose, the bleeder screw snapped off. The calipers were old and obviously rusty, I decided on new ones instead of drilling that bleeder screw out.
  • The last ones I replaced were right after new pads and rotors. The guide pins were seized and I successfully cracked them loose with heat, but replacement pins were $10 per caliper. New calipers with pins were $60, and my old calipers were disgustingly rusted.

So there you have it. Ask your mechanic why he says you need new calipers, he may just be trying to upsell you.

  • 1
    Great list! I would also suggest to ask your mechanic to show you what's going on. That way he can show you if there's a leak or if there's a seized piston.The bleeders crews are less likely unless you've asked the mechanic to bleed/flush the brake system. Commented Nov 13, 2016 at 17:45
  • If you are replacing worn pads and disks, the calipers will have to be fully retracted for the first time since your current brake parts were new. It's possible they are working OK when fully extended, but too corroded to work properly at the other extreme. If you have had metal-to-metal "grinding noises" for a while, it's possible they have been damaged through being over-extended.
    – alephzero
    Commented Nov 13, 2016 at 21:32

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