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Discussion Starter #1
Just wrapped up a 5 day long timing belt/water pump changeout, dropped the top and ran some errands today to test the motor. The motor did great.

Unfortunately, the brakes did not. I had a slight smoking problem before that I knew was going to have to be addressed, specifically coming from the front passenger's side calipers.

Drove it around for about 15 minutes, kept it close to home, the same caliper began smoking. Told the wife we needed to get it home. I'm dropping her off at the store and she shouts, "The wheel is on fire, honey." I actually didn't believe her at first, jumped out, sure enough, flames were coming through the rims. I doused it with the only thing I had handy, a cold dr. pepper...took two shots and it went out. Bought a gallon of water in the store and hosed it down, let it cool off for an hour and limped it home. It didn't smoke at all on the way home.

Anybody's guess...what's going on here? The brakes I think are dragging, because it barely feels like the car isn't coasting as well as it should when you take your foot off the accelerator at about 30 mph. Key wod is barely. The brakes don't pull when I stop the car, so I think a caliper is dragging. I've never had an issue like this with disc brakes before. The previous owner, who is a friend of mine, had the pads and rotors changed out before she sold it to me (and I have the paperwork to prove it), so I can't think of anything else but a dragging caliper.

I'm going to wait overnight and let it get good and cooled off. Without spending any money right off the bat, what should I start with? Pull the caliper and c-clamp it back down? When I had the tire off to replace the timing belt, that caliper didn't seem to have any more drag on it than any other set of pads would have on a rotor. You could turn the rotor in your hand, though you could feel the pads slightly gripping it.

Are the pads maybe made of a bad material? Or do all roads point to the calipers?

All suggestions welcome.
 

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Pads won't make it drag. You've either got a caliper that isn't sliding properly due to grooves worn in the caliper mounts, a sticking or binding caliper or a flex hose that has collapsed internally and not releasing pressure.
You've pretty much got to replace the caliper, pads and the flex hose anyway due to the fire and bleed it through until fresh, non-boiled fluid comes out of it. I'd do both sides. Make sure the caliper had a smooth clean surface to slide on.
 

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And brake fluid is very flammable, so when you get it hot enough....as soon as brakes get hot, stop and don't drive them until cool. That can be 1/2 hour or more.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Photos of the brake caliper. As you can see, the outside part of the piston's rubber boot is singed and melted. I'm guessing there was a small leak from the boot. The liquid inside the piston's center, could be any number of things, as I threw several liquids at the caliper assembly to get the flames out.




 

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Since you're going to have to replace the caliper, I'd recommend new guide pins, hardware and a new flex hose while you're at it. That way you know it's all new and shouldn't have any problems. Be sure to lube the guide pins too. As for the liquid in the caliper piston, put a q-tip in there and get a sample and smell it. You should be able to determine if it's Dr. Pepper or brake fluid that way. LOL
 

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I'd replace the flex hoses, calipers, and pads. Check the condition of the slide rails for rust or deep cupping. Be sure to use a dab of high temperature brake grease on the slide rails. Your rotors are probably warped from heat stress. I would replace them too. Lots of money required here, but these are your brakes, and your life, and the lives of others around you depend on a safe car.

Be sure to replace the brake fluid (it may be somewhat damaged by boiling). Bleed the system thoroughly.
 

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It's also recommended brake parts be replaced in pairs so you should replace the other caliper as well. I know I would.

The boot you are referring to is where the caliper pins slide through - I doubt any fluid came through there. At least I'd be surprised if it did. I'll bet the seal has a leak and fluid seeped around the piston and onto the pads and rotors where it caught fire. For safety's sake I'd recommend replacing everything - calipers, pads, rotors, hoses, and fluid.

Lots of money required here, but these are your brakes, and your life, and the lives of others around you depend on a safe car.
A big +1! (John just beat me to the punch!)

About 18 months ago I had a sticky caliper on my Ram - ended up having a shop replace everything - flex hoses, calipers, rotors, pads and fluid. Cost over $1,000, but it was well worth it to me.
 

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Not much good to talk about the brakes now, but anything on your car that starts to smoke should never be ignored.

FWIW, calipers will very often stick/jam after new pads are installed.

Count about $50 side for calipers, about $25 sid efor hoses. Plan on new pads (about $30), and rotors depending on their condition.
 
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