Everything About Brake Calipers

What Is Brake Calipers?

There are a lot of cars which have disc brakes in the front and there are most of the models which have disc brakes in the rear. A caliper is segment of the disc brake system. If you press the brake pedal, then the brake fluid would flow from the master cylinder to the callipers. The brake fluid would then apply pressure on the piston inside the caliper, thus pushing the brake pads against the rotors to slow/stop your vehicle. An automobile can have either 2 or 4 callipers.

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Where Brake Calipers Is located?

An essential factor in brake caliper location for the front brakes is the steering rack’s location. The calipers would be generally situated on the opposite side of the steering rack.

Types Of Brake Calipers

These days, there are several types of brake calipers in use, so let’s have a look at them below:


  1. Floating calipers - There are piston(s) in floating caliper on one side of the rotor which slides back and forth on bushings or pins, thus acting as a clamp.
  2. Sliding caliper - There is a slot in the caliper adapter where the sliding caliper type disc brake is mounted. It is a difference of the floating caliper design, utilizing a single piston and then working on the similar principle - the piston would apply pressure to one brake pad and the movable caliper would apply pressure to the other.
  3. Fixed opposed piston calipers - There are generally 2, 4, 6 or even 8 pistons in a fixed caliper. It is mounted to a bracket with no sliding pins or bushings in its mount.

Important Features Of Brake Calipers

  • It should have larger pistons
  • High-performance calipers should have multiple pistons
  • There should be less heat retention
  • It should have differential bore calipers

How Do Brake Calipers Work?

  • The caliper is a fragment of a disc brake which would squeeze the pads against both sides of the rotor when there would be an application of the brake. The hydraulic pressure which is being generated by the driver's foot pressing on the brake pedal would go from the master cylinder to each brake caliper. The pressure of the fluid which is inside the caliper would push one or more pistons outward to apply the car brake. 
  • Now when the brake pedal would be set free, then the hydraulic pressure would drop and the calipers would loosen up their gap. Square cut seals around the caliper pistons would start to deform with the movement of the pistons, so when pressure would be released, and then the seals want to return back to their real shape. This would assist the pistons to retract slightly and would thus allow the pads to kick back away from the rotors. This would then banish the need for return springs that are required in the drum brakes.

Frequent Problems With Brake Calipers

Some frequent problems with brake calipers are as follows:

  • The brakes might be continuously squeaking, squealing or sometimes grinding
  • The brake or anti-lock braking system (ABS) warning light might start appearing
  • The car might start to jerk or pull to one side when braking
  • There might be a requirement to pump your car brakes so that they can work properly
  • The car brake pedal might start feeling unusually soft and spongy or hard
  • You might observe leakage in the brake fluid around the wheels or engine compartment

Symptoms Of Bad Brake Calipers

Symptoms Of Bad Brake Calipers

If there would be some faults in the brake caliper, then the automobile would generally display any of the following 5 warning signs to alert the driver of a potential problem when there would be requirement of service.


  1. Brake Fluid Leaks - The most common symptoms of a faulty or defective caliper would be leakage of the brake fluid. The calipers work by utilizing the brake fluid pressure from the master cylinder as well as pedal to extend the piston and at the same time to slow the automobile. 
  2. Reduced Braking Power - If there is a reduction in the braking power, then it is an indication of a faulty brake caliper. It might feel as though it would take extra effort to brake and come to a complete end. 
  3. Abnormal Sounds When Braking - Weird sounds from the car wheels while applying brakes is another issue with the brake caliper. 
  4. Vehicle Pulling - If your automobile is pulling towards the left or right, then it is an indication that you need to replace your brake caliper. Because of braking, the calipers are generally exposed to extreme heat. It can sometimes lead to the caliper piston seizing.
  5. Brakes Always Feel Engaged While Driving - If you are feeling that your car brakes are always on even when your foot is off the brake pedal, then it is an indication of a grimy brake caliper which is being stuck.

Tools Needed For Brake Calipers

It is said that a workman is only as good as his tools, and it is definitely true when it comes to the car bodywork. It is vital to have the right tools to repair your brake calipers or else a straightforward job would turn into constant headaches. So that’s why we have listed out some invaluable tools below which you will need while repairing your brake calipers.


Top Brands For Brake Calipers

Most of the people have a nature to avoid risk and seek safety. That is the reason why they would go with a familiar auto parts brand than a new one. It would prove to be safe and they know what to expect. Have a look at our top brands for Brake Calipers which would offer safety and at the same time decrease the risk of disappointment.

Cardone Industries Brake Caliper and Parts

Dorman/First Stop Brake Caliper and Parts

Dorman/Autograde Brake Caliper and Parts

Armature DNS Brake Caliper and Parts

Auto Extra Brake Caliper and Parts

Dorman/Help Brake Caliper and Parts

Raybestos Brake Caliper and Parts

Related Parts Of Brake Calipers

It is always good to learn more! That is the reason why we are here to help you out in gaining more knowledge about car brake calipers. Here are some brake calipers related parts which would help you to understand it in a better way.


Total System Costs & Repair Times, Effort Of Brake Calipers

There can be a number of factors due to which the failure in the Brake Calipers might be caused like poor car maintenance, some accident due to which the Brake Calipers might get damaged or there might be some flaws during the quality control check at the factory where the car was manufactured or sometimes it might happen because of not changing the Brake Calipers on time. Whatever the cause might be, the replacement of the Brake Calipers is not at all an easy process and if you want to achieve success, then it’s essential to have the correct tools. This is the reason why you should leave the replacement/repair procedure to the skilled mechanics who have the tools and expertise to successfully complete the task. If you want to know the brake calipers price, then it would generally range between $35.00 and $70.00(US) each. Now if you want the job to be done at a shop, then you might have to pay between $390.00 and $450.00 (US) for two.

How To Change Brake Calipers?

How To Change Brake Calipers?

Here are the steps to install the new brake caliper:


Step 1


The brake assembly should be cleaned properly by utilizing the brake parts cleaner and the dust should be removed from the assembly. It should be done especially on those parts in which the mounting bracket would come in contact with the caliper. It is very critical when it comes to the sliding calipers, as it would provide grooves for the caliper to slide on.


Step 2


Make sure to read the instructions carefully before you start to install the new brake caliper. There might be special grease which would be already applied in your caliper. This grease should be used following the instructions set by the manufacturer.


Step 3


The brake pads should be transferred to the new brake caliper. The mounting hardware, like springs, clips, and anti-rattle clip should be replaced if possible.


Step 4


The piston should be fully retracted and ready to install in the new caliper. If not, then you can always utilize a C-clamp to retract the piston steadily into its bore when working on a front caliper. The clamp should be placed over the caliper and the inner pad should be positioned on the piston. The large screw of the clamp should be rotated to push against the inner pad so that the piston can be retracted. You can always consult an automobile repair manual as per the requirements.


Step 5


There can be some a model in which there is a need to apply a layer of high-temperature grease to the steering knuckle. If there is some requirements, then you should consult an automobile repair manual.


Step 6


The caliper should be placed in the position. A layer of silicone grease should be added to the caliper mounting bolts as well as to the insulator. After that the caliper mounting bolts should be installed by hand. Then the bolts should be tightened to the manufacturer's suggested torque by utilizing a torque wrench. The recommended torque can be found easily in the repair manual for your specific vehicle make and model.


Step 7


A bleeder screw should be removed by utilizing a wrench. Tape should be applied to the screw threads and then the screw should be reinstalled. Just keep in mind that you do not tighten the screw fully until after you bleed the caliper later.


Step 8


Then the new copper washers should be ready for the brake hose as well as line wrench. Then the brake hose should be disconnected from the old caliper and after that the hose should be connected to the new brake caliper. Carefully tighten the bolts so that you can prevent the leakage of the brake fluid.

Step 9

A shop rag should be used to wipe brake fluid which you might have spilled during the transfer of the brake hose.


Step 10


The plastic sheet should be removed from the brake master cylinder.


Step 11


Then it is essential to bleed the brake line. You can do this yourself as well by utilizing a hand-held vacuum pump in about one minute in there is an absence of assistant to help you bleed the line.