I have a Honda accord 2008 which has performed well until recently. On my may to work I noticed my car wasn't accelerating as usual; it had this feel like it was dragging. On parking, I noticed smoke on my left rear tire. However, i thought nothing of this.

Going home in the evening while on the freeway, my car started decelerating and the brake pedal became very hard. Pulling to the side of the road, I shut restarted the engine but i could not move the car so I loosened the calipers and got some normal movement.

Any ideas on what might have gone wrong?

  • What exactly did you loosen? Commented Apr 10, 2014 at 21:25
  • i loosened the caliper bolts to slacken their grip as they just locked up on me Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 6:01
  • How is your emergency brake/handbrake?
    – Zaid
    Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 11:14
  • 4
    First of all, don't drive it anymore with the caliper loose. You are just begging for brake failure, accident, and loss of life. Secondly, is this happening on both sides at the same time? Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 11:59
  • @zaid my emergency brake is good and it happens on all four tires at the same time Commented Apr 11, 2014 at 15:03

6 Answers 6


I believe it's brake caliper cylinder or brake guides that's stuck. I'd go with:

  • Drain all brake fluid. (You should change boiled-up brake fluid)
  • Service the brake caliper. (Change rubber parts, o-rings, clean off rust, silicone paste for cylinder and guides, copper paste on pads).
  • Change both rear brake disks. (Most likely you overheated that locking brake disk)
  • Refill brake fluid, bleed brakes.
  • 2
    @abhi because it's the shotgun approach. ie I don't know what's wrong so change everything in the rear. Even though the OP said it was affecting all four brakes, which pretty much points to the master cylinder, booster, or pedal. Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 13:16

It sounds like something is preventing the piston in your brake master cylinder from returning all the way to its home position.

This could be caused by something getting in the way of the pedal, preventing it from coming all the way back up. It doesn't take much, either. Just a fraction of an inch (a few mm) off its normal resting point and a bit of pressure will remain in the brake lines after each pedal depression. A dozen times or so, and your brake pedal will become quite hard, and the car will drive like it's tripled in weight. Make sure there's nothing blocking the brake pedal (loose wire, etc.); make sure the brake light switch that's mounted to the pedal bracket hasn't worked loose.

While you're under the dash, inspecting the brake pedal, take a look at the rod that the brake pedal pushes through the firewall into the master cylinder. It's adjustable, and it's possible (although probably rare) that the rod's lock nut has worked loose and the rod has come out of adjustment.


My wife's 2004 Civic LX brakes would lock up after driving and braking in traffic for about 3-8 miles but after the car was parked and engine off for about an hour or two the brakes would be all right again until the next trip. It turned out to be the Brake Light Switch. I don't understand why a switch would cause the problem but a guy at a brake shop adjusted the switch while the brakes were locked up and the car rolled free. No more problems with locking brakes since.

So for anyone who has had a brake switch repaired or replaced and the brakes lock up your car check out the brake switch adjustment and the plastic stop for the switch. Adnoh


It's simple: The master cylinder is not returning all the way (due to rod adjustment, brake light switch etc) so the internal piston doesn't come back enough to uncover the feed hole to the reservoir.

Brakes get hot, fluid expands brakes lock on.


Cold water is not going to hurt it if u spray just a little. The brake switch is the problem most of the time when it comes to the brakes locking up. I've been working on cars for 25 years and I can say that the problem is the brake switch. The rod can't release the master cylinder all the way so usually adjusting the brake switch rod will unlock the brakes and solve the problem. In some cases you may have to switch out the brake switch but most of the time adjusting it solves the problem.


I had the same problem today at the highway . steam was coming from the brake drivers side . I had to stop on the side and make a phone call to my mechanic . he said stop the car for 15 minutes and spray some water on the brake . It works Just to get me out of the highway . tomorrow will fix and know what was wrong !

  • 3
    Um... it would have actually been more helpful if you'd waited to answer until you had discovered the actual problem. At any rate, spraying cold water on a hot rotor or drum is just begging for destructive warpage. Commented Sep 5, 2015 at 22:59

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