How to Move a Car with Seized Brakes

How to Move a Car with Seized Brakes

A seized brake is a frustrating and potentially dangerous situation. This can occur due to various reasons, such as corrosion, moisture, and mechanical issues. It becomes challenging to move the vehicle when the brakes become locked.

In this article, I will share my experience resolving a common issue with breaks—seizing. Recently, I noticed a strong burning smell, my brakes felt constantly engaged, and they even started smoking. I took matters into my own hands and successfully fixed the problem.

Reasons for Seized Brake Calipers

Factors Leading to Seized BrakesDescription
Exposure to humidity and dirtAccumulated contaminants hinder the movement of pistons and guide pins, leading to sticking and corrosion.
Using the wrong lubricant or none at allIncorrect lubrication can cause dryness, leakage, and damage to rubber components, impairing guide pin movement.
Abrupt temperature changesSudden temperature fluctuations accelerate corrosion, bend brake discs, and contribute to sticking brakes.
Worn caliper elementsWorn-out caliper housing or piston surface causes skewing and the accumulation of dirt, hindering free movement.
DeformationDue to improper installation, excessive strain, or irresponsible driving, guide pins may flex, increasing the likelihood of sticking.
Driving with worn brake pads and discsContinued use of worn pads and discs can lead to piston skewing and compromised functionality.
Using the wrong brake fluidIncorrect brake fluid viscosity prevents piston return and may cause swelling in polymeric or composite pistons.
Exposure to aggressive chemicalsRoad grit and brake fluid accelerate the wear of rubber dust boots, highlighting the need for an airtight system.

Is It Safe to Drive without Fixing Seized Brakes?

Brake seized car

Driving a car with seized brakes is not safe. Seized brakes can severely compromise your ability to control the vehicle and bring it to a stop. This poses a significant risk to your safety and the safety of others on the road.

Driving with seized brakes can result in reduced braking power, overheating of brake components, further damage to the braking system, and potential accidents.

How to Move a Car with Seized Brakes

I did thorough research to know how to move a car with seized brakes. I tried different quick methods, and they were all unsuccessful. Finally, I was able to find a successful method to fix seized brakes. Here I will explain to you step by step how I completed the task.

Step 1: Preparing for the Repair

First, I loosened the wheel bolts and used wheel chocks to secure the rear wheels. Then, I lifted the car until the wheel was off the ground, ensuring I was on a level surface. To stay safe, I placed an axle stand underneath the car as an additional precaution.

Step 2: Removing the Wheel and Accessing the Brake Caliper

Seized caliper

Once the car was securely lifted, I removed the bolts holding the wheel and took it off. This provided me with direct access to the brake caliper. To remove the caliper, I took out the two mounting bolts located at the top and bottom. Additionally, I easily pried off the front spring clip using a screwdriver.

Step 3: Loosening the Caliper and Checking for Issues

After removing the mounting bolts and spring clip, I noticed that the caliper was still stuck to the brake disc. To loosen the pressure, I lightly tapped the caliper with a small section of wood and a hammer. In my case, I found that the recesses where the brake pads sit were a potential cause of caliper seizing. I applied copper grease to the points where the brake pads and the mounting plate met, as well as to the edges of the brake pads to prevent squealing.

Step 4: Inspecting and Lubricating Caliper Components

Next, I inspected the caliper slide bolts, as they can contribute to seizing. I used brake cleaner to remove dirt and grime from the slide bolts. Then, I applied a coat of red rubber grease to ensure smooth movement. Red rubber grease is known for its high-temperature resistance and compatibility with rubber components.

Step 5: Finalizing the Repair

After installing the caliper, I tightened the caliper slide bolts. Then, I fit the retaining clip, and I used brake cleaner to clean any residue on the brake disc.

Bleeding the brakes was the next crucial step. I bled the brakes using a homemade bleeding tool.

What to Do If Caliper is Still Stuck?

If the previous steps haven’t resolved the issue, you may need to replace the caliper entirely. Before removing the caliper, it is advisable to loosen the brake line to facilitate the process. Unwind the caliper from the brake line, ensuring that you clamp the line to prevent fluid leakage.

To reinstall the caliper, wind it back onto the brake line and push back the caliper piston using a G clamp and a piece of wood. Reinstall the brake pads, ensuring the retainer clip is correctly positioned.

Test Drive

With the brake caliper issue resolved, it was time to take my car for a test drive. I enjoyed the improved performance and had peace of mind knowing my brakes were in good shape. This repair typically takes about an hour and a half to complete.


What is brake seizing?

Brakes can lock up for several reasons, including the piston being stuck within the caliper, the pads sticking to the disc, or the slide pins locking up on single-piston calipers. This is called brake seizing.

What does a seized brake feel like?

When you attempt to drive it, the brakes will feel as though they are still engaged. Sometimes the situation is so awful that the car won’t move at all.

Why do hand brakes seize?

The parking brake may rust or corrode over time. The cable that activates the parking brake may become stuck if this happens.

Can a seized caliper make noise?

Unnoticed, seized brake calipers frequently emit a noise resembling that of worn-out brake pads. Early on, releasing the brake pedal could first sound like something is rubbing.


This is how to unlock brakes on a car. Fixing a seized brake caliper is a manageable task with the right tools and instructions. By following these steps, you can restore the functionality of your brakes and ensure your safety on the road.

Remember, if you encounter difficulties or prefer professional assistance, don’t hesitate to consult a certified mechanic. Happy driving!

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