If you own a BMW, it’s pretty likely that it’s one of your most prized possessions. Everyone knows that regular vehicle maintenance is essential for a safe driving experience, but many people simply get a new air filter and an oil change, completely forgetting one of the most important parts: the brake calipers.
Here are a few of the most common symptoms that your calipers are failing and the reasons why:
Sometimes when you brake, you can feel vibration or wobbling in your steering wheel. This is probably a result of uneven rotors. Many times the calipers cause rotor issues. The caliper uses pistons to squeeze your brake pads against the rotors, which causes your car to slow down and stop. The pistons can start sticking when they’ve been exposed to debris and heat. A caliper piston that’s sticking can cause a brake pad to get stuck in either the “on” or the “off” position. They’ll either stay stuck, or they won’t work at all.
Another type of brake issue that people encounter is when you hit the brakes and notice that the car pulls to one side or the other. This is typically a caliper problem. It results from one of the calipers applying more pressure than the other, or one caliper not functioning at all and causing the other to do all the work on one side.
A floating caliper can stick if the bushings or slides become rusty or damaged. Because it doesn’t have it’s full range of motion, the sticky caliper starts to create uneven wear on the rotor. You’ll notice your brakes start to drag because the caliper isn’t sliding, so the pad isn’t coming away from the rotor. A floating caliper with a sticky slide or bushing causes excessive wear on the outer brake pads as well as the rotor. This makes the steering wheel start pulling to one side because the wear is constantly on one side.
If you see that your caliper is leaking brake fluid, this means that your caliper will need replacement. Calipers should be replaced approximately after seven to ten years of use or 75,000 miles of driving, because they utilize rubber seals which break down with age and heat. As the seals harden or break down, the calipers are more likely to have seals that leak fluid. Brake fluid leaks can be really dangerous because any time fluid is leaking it can cause the brakes to completely fail. So if your calipers are leaking, take your vehicle to a professional rather than ignoring it.
If you’re ever driving along and you start to notice a burning smell in your car, you need to pull over immediately. When performing multiple hard brakes on hilly roads, a metallic burning smell is the first symptom of brakes that are overheating. Make sure that the emergency brake is released and let them cool for a bit. Smoke emanating from wheels indicates that a caliper is stuck, which is a major safety issue. You shouldn’t continue to drive a vehicle in this condition, but should instead call for an expert to tow it to a shop and fix it.
Unfortunately, due to their constant use and daily wear-and-tear, it’s pretty common for brake parts to go out. In fact, it’s almost a certainty that they will eventually need replacement. But given their vital role in driving, one should never ignore a brake issue. It’s best to get your vehicle to a professional who knows how to service your vehicle properly so that you and your family can remain safe.
St. Matthews Import has several locations in and around Louisville, KY. We will handle all of your service needs. Our experts have years of experience in import car repairs. If your BMW is showing signs of brake caliper failure, be sure to call our Hubbards Lane location for automotive service and repair today. We look forward to earning your patronage for all your BMW maintenance and service needs in the future.