A Vehicle Owner's Guide To Understanding Brake Calipers


Brake calipers are the part of the brakes that connect the force on the brake pedal to the brake pads. This is done through hydraulic fluid within the actuators and the calipers used on both front and rear brakes. As a vehicle owner, it is normal to want to know more about brake calipers.

When Are Brake Calipers Needed?

Calipers are found on cars that use disc brakes. The majority of vehicles have them on the front wheels, and many also now have them on the rear wheels. The calipers work with the disc brakes to create friction and slow the wheels down.

How Are Calipers Made?

The caliper fits over the brake rotor and metal plates known as brake pads. The calipers have hydraulic actuators, so that the pressure is released when the brakes are pressed within the car. The pads then move towards the rotor to create the needed friction to slow the car down.

What Type of Calipers Are Available?

You can get either floating or fixed calipers. The former slides in and out of the rotor, usually with up to two pistons on the inner part of the rotor. The friction is created by the caliper being pushed forward by the pistons onto the brake pads.

Fixed calipers don't move at all. The pistons are on opposite sides of the rotor, instead. While fixed options offer better performance, they are also more expensive. Some of the fixed options can have up to six pairs of pistons.

How Do You Know the Calipers Are Failing?

Brake calipers fail usually due to corrosion and rust inside the system. The pistons seize and don't create the pressure needed to slow the car down. You will be able to see if corrosion is occurring when you change the brake fluid. There are also times that the guide pins will seize, usually meaning that the whole bracket needs to be replaced. Broken screws are another common problem leading to caliper failure.

You'll know if your calipers need replacing by observing brake pad wear. It will be uneven between the inner and outer pads, and is usually a sign that the guide pins need replacing. If one side of the car's brake pads wear more than the other, it is a sign that one side of the car has air trapped in a piston which has caused it to seize. You will usually feel a pull towards the side where there is a problem when braking.

If you suspect your calipers are failing, take your vehicle to a mechanic that specializes in brake service, like those at Budget Automotive Center


11 August 2016

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