Why My Rear Wheel Locked Up While Driving? [Causes & Solutions]

Rear-wheel locking up while driving can be a very dangerous situation, not only it will confuse the hell out of you but it can easily cause loss of control over the car. The rear end of the car has many things going on. There are many failure points such as failed bearings, rusted brakes, etc. it is important to understand them in order to diagnose and prevent the problem in the future. 

If you are also confused about why the rear wheel locked up while driving, then this article will help you to understand the main causes and their solutions. 

What To Do If Rear Wheel Locked Up While Driving? 

The likely cause for the rear wheel locked up while driving can be a failed wheel bearing or in an exceptional case, the brake caliper can also cause to lock the brake rotor. Here are the common causes with solutions-

1. Failed Wheel Bearing Of Wheel Hub

A wheel bearing is a critical part of the wheel assembly that connects the wheel to the axle. It has a set of steel balls or tapers, that are held together with a metal ring. It enables the wheel to rotate smoothly with a minimum amount of friction. They are safety-critical components, designed to sustain axial loads caused by gravitation, acceleration, braking & cornering forces. If they fail, then the whole wheel assembly will just lock up.

 How To Repair Failed Wheel Bearing?

You can change your own wheel bearings, as it is considered an intermediate job. If you are mechanically inclined, then it can be done at home, but you may need some specialty mechanic tools. Be sure to go through your vehicle’s service manual in order to identify the type of wheel bearing your vehicle is equipped with before you begin the repair.

2. Jammed Brake Caliper

There are several reasons for draggy brakes or brake bind, it is typically because something in the system has seized or stuck. The piston can stick within the caliper and can cause the whole rear wheel assembly to lock up. Brake pads can bite and hold the brakes. Sometimes the slide pins seize and fails.

If the brakes have seized, then it will feel like the brakes are on if you try to drive the car. Sometimes it is so bad that the wheels are permanently locked up.

How To Service Car Brakes?

If the cause of your brake issue is the pads sticking to the disc, then lubricating the system should fix that issue. Removing the pads and applying a small amount of grease to the edge in order to fix it. For a seized caliper piston or slide pins, a tool is available to apply force and retract the pad. Often a simple C-clamp can be used. 

3. Prolonged Vehicle Inactivity

The main cause of seized real wheel is vehicle inactivity for a prolonged period, coupled with corrosion. If you leave the vehicle sitting for months then the brakes can seize, especially if it is parked outside. Brake discs can rust and the pads can be stuck to them. The caliper piston or the slider pin can also get stuck for similar reasons.

Brakes are subjected to a huge range of temperatures and are permanently exposed to the elements. Corrosion can build up in key areas and cause failure.

How To Free Jammed Wheels?

Even if you free a stuck pad, there is a high chance of it seizing again as it was caused by the corrosion. You can try rebuilding the caliper and skimming the disk face. If the corrosion has eaten into the polished surfaces then replace the components. Also, flush the fluid in your entire brake system every other year. Brake fluids can absorb water and moisture, it can start corrosion buildup from within the caliper itself.

4. Failing ABS Module Of Brake System

The ABS module act as a pump that pulsates the brake force in case the wheels start to lock up. It can be a reason for the case of the rear wheel locked up while driving. Sometimes, the pistons inside the ABS module can lock up or seize, and it can cause a permanent pressure to build, cause wheel lockup.

Solutions For Bad ABS Module

ABS modules can be had repaired by a trusted mechanic, you can also get remanufactured parts. But if the ABS module has gone past its life, then it would be better to change it. 

How Dangerous Can Stuck Brakes Be?

If you will drive with a seized brake, it may become very hot. You’ll notice the smell of brakes overheating and may even see smoke coming off them. In this situation, just stop driving! Driving with a binding brake can generate enough heat for a fire, you can also damage the discs and any other component connected to the wheel hub. Similarly, a failed wheel bearing can cause total loss of car control and can cause a serious accident. 

How To Prevent Brake Problems?

If the reason is vehicle inactivity, coupled with corrosion, then make sure that you use the vehicle once or twice a month in order to keep the whole braking system active and free of rust. Regular brake services can also help to prevent caliper seizures and stuck pistons. Change the brake fluid once a year too. Look out for humming noise while driving as it can indicate the early onset of a bad wheel bearing.

How Much Will It Cost To Repair Stuck Wheels?

Since the problem involves many components, the price scale will differ. If the cause of the problem is a failed wheel bearing, then it can cost up to 500$, depending on the model of the car. Brake issues can be repaired in between 100-800$. It can cost too much if the whole brake components such as caliper, disks are to be changed. A simple cleaning job will cost 50$.


As the matter is related to the brakes and the general control of the car, you should give extra attention to the issue of the rear wheel locked up while driving. It can be a matter of life and death. Whenever you get the slightest idea of brakes binding, then quickly attend to it. In case of any further doubts, comment down below. 

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