Explained: What are Brake Callipers on a Car

Brakes are an integral part of a car. Without them, there’d be no stopping any of the vehicles on the road and there’d be a sudden increase in the number of accidents taking place. But how well do you know your brakes? Do you, for example, know what a calliper is and what it does? Scrap Car Comparison is here to help when you’re feeling stumped.

If you’re having issues with your brakes, or perhaps they’ve just got to the point where you know they need replacing but just can’t afford to do so, then selling your car for scrap or salvage is the quickest way to get rid of the problem – not only that, but you’ll be making a good amount of money at the same time. So, once you’ve read what you need to below, why not get in touch with Scrap Car Comparison to see just how much you could make from your car as it is, before going through the rigmarole of trying to fix it yourself.

What are brake callipers?

Brake callipers are one of the most visible components of a brake, possibly even the most visible if you have a premium brand who like to paint their callipers in bright colours. The calliper houses the pads and pistons in the braking system and it’s the calliper that causes your car to slow down when you press the pedal. 

As you apply the brake, the calliper fits like a clamp around the disc, and the friction it creates as it connects begins to stop the wheel from turning, eventually bringing the entire car down to a stop, if applied for long enough.

How to clean brake callipers?

As you drive along, it’s inevitable that your brakes are going to pick up muck and grime from the road, being in a prime position so close to the wheels. However, there are ways you can maintain your callipers and keep them safe from the effects of rust and corrosion.

  • Find a wire brush and use it to remove any rust from the calliper brackets and to achieve a smooth, clear finish.
  • Replace or clean the attached components while you’re working on the brake system.
  • Lubricate the metal-to-rubber friction points with silicone lubricant, while any metal-to-metal points require a molybdenum disulfide lube, often shortened to Moly Lube.
  • Once everything has been cleaned and lubricated you should find much smoother results on your brakes.

How much to replace brake callipers?

As with all price estimates that we have provided in our Car Care guides, it is impossible to give a detailed quote without seeing the specific car you’re looking to work on. Your car’s make, model, age and trim level can all have a bearing on the price you’ll need to pay to replace any part, let alone taking into account any potential aftermarket parts you have had installed. The average prices for repair work to callipers can range from £90 up to £400 depending on where you are and what quality of calliper you are looking to use.

How to maintain brake callipers

If you require any adjustments being made to your brakes then, first off, be absolutely certain you are confident in your own abilities. If you have any doubts in what you can achieve when you jack your car up, then don’t even start – take the car to a garage and let a mechanic do what they’re trained to do.

Most vehicles have sliding callipers with a single hydraulic piston, and it’s this piston which pushes the inner brake shoe against the inner side of the rotor. Meanwhile, the calliper slides inward, pushing the outer shoe against the outer surface of the rotor. Check you have a full reservoir of brake fluid and set up a clamp so that the C sits at the midpoint of the inner side of the calliper (behind the piston), opposite the tip of the forcing screw. Turn the screw and the calliper should move freely as the piston is pushed back. 

If your calliper does not move smoothly, it could be a case that rusted slides or damaged bushings are blocking the passing of the piston. With the calliper off the bracket, assess the pistons – although these are rarely reusable so be prepared to replace them.

How to paint brake callipers

Painting brake callipers is an easy way to add some personalisation to an otherwise purely functional element of your car – however, care must be taken when applying any paints as it must not get onto the discs as this could hinder their ability to slow you down. To paint your callipers, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Jack the car up and remove the front wheels
  2. While your brakes are exposed, you should take the opportunity to clean the brake callipers and discs.
    • Use a wire brush to remove the worst of the rust and clean the calliper with a damp cloth. Alternatively you can use a special brake cleaner and a small brush (such as a toothbrush) to remove the dirt.
  3. Prepare your callipers – remember, the longer and more care you take on this, the better the finish will be on your calliper. Cover the bleeder valve with masking tape and do the same with the brake hose fittings. Overlapping the tape will ensure there are no possible leaks. Then, use a large plastic bag to completely cover the rotor, remembering that no paint can get on to this at all, and secure it with tape.
  4. Now you can begin to paint the callipers. Begin by applying a thin coat and allowing it to dry completely, and then continue to apply thin coats – avoid one large thick coat as this could result in an unsightly paint job with drip marks. It could take up to 24 hours to dry completely, and if doing all four wheels, you should paint two at a time.
  5. Once fully dry, you can replace the wheels, take the car down off its jacks and admire your handiwork. While you’re at it, you could give your alloys a clean or even invest in some new tyres.

Get the very best price with Scrap Car Comparison

If your brakes are just one of a multitude of issues plaguing your car, then perhaps it’s time to put it out to pasture. With a nationwide network of scrap and salvage experts at our fingertips, we can guarantee you only the very best price for your old vehicle, in next to no time at all. Get started today and find out just how much money you could make from your old car with Scrap Car Comparison.

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