What Causes A Tire To Lock Up

A tire lock-up can greatly reduce your directional stability on roads. Let’s find out what causes a tire to lock up below in this article.

When my tires locked up suddenly while driving on a wet road, I was a bit worried and inspected various components of my vehicle. Unfortunately, I could not find any defective components in my car.

I wondered what causes a tire to lock up and researched on the internet. Later I found that there can be many possible reasons for locking the tire suddenly on roads, like failed wheel bearing, faulty brake calipers, and various others. 

But saying this much will not be enough for you. So I dive into the topic and discuss different solutions for locking the tires in a vehicle in this write-up. So, continue reading this article for more information.


What Causes A Tire To Lock Up

Five Reasons That Causes A Tire To Lock Up

Whenever you apply brakes on your car, the brake pads provide friction that helps stop the wheels of your vehicle. But when you apply brakes suddenly with full power, the wheels may stop spinning, but the tires are dragged to a certain distance. The vehicle steering system may go out of control .so, you will have less control over your car, which is dangerous not only for the driver but also for other drivers on the road.

There are various reasons for locking the tires in a vehicle. The reasons are listed below.

#1.Road Conditions

Your tires may lock because of the loss of traction between the tire tread and wet and slippery road. As a result, even if you push the brake pedal very hard, the tires will no longer spin. It will skid or move to a certain distance on the slick surface.

#2.Worn Brake Pads

If your car has disc brakes, then it will indeed have brake pads. The brake pads play an essential role in stopping your vehicle. It converts the kinetic energy of your vehicle into thermal energy through friction.

You will find two brake pads in your disc brakes, and their surfaces containing friction face the rotor or disc, But if these brake pads are worn out or poorly damaged, then your tire will lock up in normal driving conditions.


If you find the brake pads damaged, then replace them with new ones.


You might also like to read : Why Do My New Tires Look Dirty? Make Your Tires Good As New In 7 Easy STeps


#3.Rust On Rotors

The brake disc or rotor is the rotating component of the disc brake. You will find vents on the disc or rotor to liberate excess heat from the vehicle. The rotors mainly consist of grey iron or cast iron. But, if you don’t use your vehicle for certain months, the rotor of the disc brake will develop rust, making your tire lock while driving on the road.


A corroded rotor is not suitable for the driving vehicle. You will face braking problems with tire locks during driving. So, it’s best to replace it with a new one.

#4. Faulty Brake Callipers

The brake caliper is another essential component of the disc brake. Whenever the driver applies brakes to stop the vehicle, the brake fluid from the master cylinder moves towards the calipers and exerts pressure on the piston in almost all directions. Consequently, the piston pushes the brake pads, which are attached to the disc or rotor. This mechanism helps in stopping your vehicle.

But when the mounting hardware components of the brake caliper become rusted or broken, it may overheat the rotor and brake pads. As a result, your rotor or the metallic brake pads will have premature wear and tear, and the tire may lock during driving.


Replacing mounting hardware in brake calipers is the best solution.

#5. Contaminated Brake Fluid

The brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid that plays a vital role in stopping your vehicle. Most of the brake fluids found in the market are usually glycol-based, but mineral-based and silicon-based are also used in some vehicles.

But when there is low brake fluid in the reservoir, or it is contaminated with moisture or leaking because of damage in brake lines, your tire may lock up during driving conditions.


It’s best to check the fluid reservoir from time to time. If you find the brake fluid dirty, then replace it with a new one. Simultaneously I will advise you to inspect the brake lines from time to time. If you find them faulty, then you should replace the brake lines with a new one as soon as possible.


What Causes A Tire To Lock Up


Frequently Answered Questions

#1. What would cause one tire to lock up?

Whenever you apply brakes suddenly on a wet or slippery road, there is the possibility of locking your tires which means your wheels do not spin, but they drag to a certain distance. 

#2. What to do if tires lock up?

If you have a non-ABS vehicle, then pumping the brake pedal is the best way to help the tires to maintain traction on the road.

If you have an ABS-equipped vehicle, you first need to take off your brake pedal so that the wheels can get sufficient traction to unlock momentarily. Then reapply the pressure to the brakes till it disengages or stops your vehicle safely.


You might also like to read : What Causes A Tire To Shred? 9 Reasons For Shredding In Tires, And How You Can Protect Them


#3. How do you unlock a locked tire?

You need to follow the below steps to unlock a locked tire. The steps are as follows.

  • Park your vehicle on a suitable surface level and keep the parking brake on so that you can prevent the rolling of the wheels.
  • Locate the wheel lock key inside your vehicle.
  • Position the lock key on your wheel lock
  • Push the end of the lug wrench on the key.
  • You have to pull the wrench in a counterclockwise direction to break the lock.

#4. What does it mean for wheels to lock up?

Locking up the wheels means the brakes in the vehicle stop the wheel from moving, but the car moves a few miles. It erodes the tires and finally causes premature wear and tear.


What Causes A Tire To Lock Up


Wrap Up

Your tires are an essential component of your vehicle. It should always be in good condition as it is the only component that comes in contact with the road surface. A tire lock-up is a severe problem. So if you face such issues, then you should take your car to the nearby mechanic.

He will investigate all the components, and if he finds any damaged parts, you need to replace them with a new one. I hope this article was informative and, please don’t forget to share any suggestions for this article in the comment section.

Happy Driving

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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