Why Is My Caliper Touching My Rotor? (4 Easy Diagnosis)

The brake caliper, or simply the caliper, is a vital part of an entire vehicle’s braking system because of how it basically clamps the wheels in place.

Basically, what the caliper does is that it create friction with the brake rotors when you are stepping on the brakes.

But there might be some instances when the caliper is actually touching the rotors without stepping on the brakes.

Why is your caliper touching the rotor?

Mainly, a caliper that is touching or rubbing against the rotor regularly without stepping on the brakes is caused by a misaligned caliper. But there are some cases where it could also be due to how the wheel was not properly installed. In both instances, you would notice some squeaking and grinding.

Luxury Cars by MotorHowTo.com x
Luxury Cars by MotorHowTo.com

As important as the caliper is, it is also important to note that it should only be rubbing against the rotor when there is a need to bake. That means that the caliper should not be touching the rotor unless you want it to.

So, in that case, it is important to look at why your caliper is touching the rotor and how you can remedy the situation.

What does the caliper mounting bracket attach to?

An important part of a car’s entire braking system is the brake caliper. This is a component that forms part of the entire disc brake system, which is usually what most cars have in their front brakes.

Essentially, without the caliper, a disc brake system won’t be able to function properly.

The caliper is also the component that houses the car’s brake pads and pistons. Its main function is to basically slow the car’s wheels as it creates friction with the brake rotors whenever you step on the brakes.

In the most basic sense, the caliper functions like a clamp on the wheel’s rotor so that the wheels will stop turning when you step on the brake. As mentioned, the caliper houses metal plates that we call brake pads.

When you step on the brake pedals, what happens is that the brake fluid creates pressure on the pistons in the brake caliper. This will then force the pads against the brake motors to clamp it down and stop the rotor from moving to slow down the entire vehicle.

So, when you want to know what the brake caliper is mounted on, the caliper is actually located inside the wheel and is connected to what we call the master cylinder through different tubes, valves, and hoses that allow the brake fluid to run through the system. The brake caliper essentially floats but is held in place by different pins.

Why is my caliper touching my rotor?

Now that you know the main function of the brake caliper, you should also know that it should be touching the rotor whenever you are pressing on the brake pedals.

That’s because of how the brake pads located inside the caliper are the ones that are responsible for stopping the rotor from moving whenever you want to make a sudden brake.

However, while you do know that the caliper needs to touch the rotor whenever you are braking, you might be wondering why your caliper is touching the rotor even when you are not stepping on the brake.

This shouldn’t be something that is normal because the caliper and the rotor should only be making contact when braking.

The main reason why the caliper is touching the rotor even when you are not pressing on the brake is a misaligned caliper. Due to wear and tear and possibly even a crash that did some damage to your brake system, the caliper might have become misaligned.

In such a case, it might make contact with the rotor even when you are not stepping on the brakes.

Another reason, although it isn’t as common, is a wheel that was not installed properly. If the wheel was not installed properly, this could mean that it isn’t properly aligned with the caliper.

As such, the rotor will probably make contact with the caliper even when you are not stepping on the brakes.

Is the caliper bolted to the rotor?

One of the things that you need to know is that the caliper is usually floating.

As mentioned, calipers essentially float in place and are only held together by pins or bolts that allow them to stay in place. This is the most common caliper design.

The caliper is also located inside the wheel. However, it isn’t directly bolted to the rotor. Instead, the wheel is actually what’s bolted to the rotor.

So, because the caliper is located inside the wheel, one could say that the caliper is indirectly bolted to the rotor but shouldn’t be touching it unless you step on the brake pedal.

How do you know if your caliper bracket is bad?

Another reason why your caliper may be touching your rotor is that it has already gone bad.

In such an instance, here are some of the things you need to watch out for to tell if your caliper bracket has gone bad:

  • Your breaks are squeaking and grinding. This means that the caliper and the rotor are touching one another regularly even though you are not stepping on the brake pedal.
  • The ABS warning light comes on. This means that the car has detected that there is something wrong with the ABS. And this could lead to the possibility that your caliper bracket has gone bad.
  • If your car is often jerking or pulls to one side when braking, that could mean that one of the calipers has gone bad. That’s because the caliper is not doing its job well and is not as effective as the calipers in the other wheels at halting your vehicle.
  • When you notice that your brake pedal feels a bit too soft or a bit too hard, whichever might apply, this could also mean that there is a problem with the caliper bracket.

Sources

Goodyearautoservice.com: Calipers

Columiatireauto.com: How can you tell if a break has gone bad

Quora: What holds the caliper

Shoforum.com: Brake caliper rubbing against the rotor