This page is dedicated to helping you find the reasons why your rear brake caliper won’t depress. On this page, you’ll find a short video outlining the top reasons, and I’ve added some links to tools you’ll need to complete the repair.
Most front brake repairs like fitting brake pads and on most vehicles even fitting a set of front rotors is a relatively simple task. Rear brakes are different from the front and although they look similar. Repairing rear brakes requires a different process and tools.
The reason rear brakes are different is that most vehicles incorporate the parking brake mechanism and the rear caliper. Even fitting a set of rear pads requires an extra step or two depending on how your parking brake is applied. That’s what I’ll cover next.
Rear Calipers Are Different
Most vehicles incorporate the parking brake and the rear calipers and are known as “Wind-back calipers”. To push the piston back on these types of calipers the piston must be screwed and pushed simultaneously.
A special service brake service tool known as a Brake Wind back tool is required. While it is possible to do it with pointy nose pliers, it’s a pain in the ass. I’ve listed the tool for the job below.
Electronic Parking Brake Needs Special Attention
There’s one more point to consider. If your vehicle has an Electronic Parking Brake (EPB) which means you press a button to apply the parking brake. Then you’ll need to take some additional steps and you’ll need a workshop-level scan tool.
Electronic parking brakes must be placed in “Service mode” before removing the caliper and winding back the rear calipers. And after the repair work, the EPB must be placed back in dynamic mode.
Doing so is not difficult but as said you’ll need a scan tool. I’ve listed a very capable tool below, but be warned, it’s a little on the spendy side.
Brake Repair Tools You’ll Need
Brake fluid moisture tester, this simple tester is a really fast way to check the moisture content of your fluid. Brake fluid should be changed every three years. Moisture inside the hydraulic system is as you know bad for a couple of reasons.
First, it reduces brake performance when the fluid gets hot and second moisture inside the system attacks metal components causing corrosion. This will lead to caliper, brake line, master cylinder, and possible brake controller damage. Picture links to Amazon.com.
Useful one-man vacuum brake and clutch bleeding kit that won’t hurt the pocket. It’s perfect for occasional brake maintenance chores, easy to use, and gets the job done. Picture links to Amazon.com.
Compact brake line flaring tool, the best thing about this tool is its size. This little guy is ideal for flaring brake lines while on the vehicle, but the handle is detachable for bench work too. Flares 3/16 SAE double flare steel and copper. Picture links to Amazon.com.
The Autel MaxiCOM is a shop-level tool. It is capable of reading, clearing fault codes, coding a new battery, placing EPB module in service mode, and calibration after the repair. It is also capable of activating ABS modulator solenoids when performing a full brake bleed procedure. Picture links to Amazon.com.
Preston is a leading supplier of quality automotive fluids. This is DOT 3 so remember to check your reservoir cap before ordering. This product is sold by Amazon and is conveniently delivered to your door. Picture links out to Amazon.
3M make top-quality products. Brake cleaner is likely one of the most used products in a pro shop. It is used not just to clean brake components and prevent brake squeal but also to clean spilled liquids like brake fluid, oil grease. The cleaner is an aerosol and is powerful enough flush grit from components. Picture links to Amazon.com.
A head-mounted lamp is like having a third hand a real advantage when you are doing battle. This rechargeable LED head-mounted lamp is conveniently sold and delivered by Amazon.com.
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John Cunningham is an Automotive Technician and writer on Rustyautos.com. He’s been a mechanic for over twenty-five years and has worked for GM, Volvo, Volkswagen, Land Rover, and Jaguar dealerships.
John uses his know-how and experience to write fluff-free articles that help fellow gearheads with all aspects of vehicle ownership, including maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting.