Do I need new disc brake calipers?
How do you know if your brake caliper needs replacing? There are many signs, the most common of which is what's called a "brake pull". This is when you press the brake pedal, and your car jerks to one side. Typically, that means that the side that's pulling has a properly functioning brake caliper, and the other side has one with pistons that are stuck open. Other less common signs of failure include a resistant brake pedal (hard to push) or a squeaking sound coming from that side of the car. These signs, however, could indicate problems in other brake parts like the brake lines, pads, or rotors, so it's important to inspect your brake calipers if you experience some of these issues. Some of the mounting or assembly hardware could be too tight or loose, which would result in improper piston-to-pad action. There could be dirt, grease, rust, or road debris stuck in the caliper mechanism. Or, the brake caliper could simply be too old to function properly. In that case, buying another caliper or rebuilding the one you have would be the best thing you could do.
Why do cars use brake calipers?
Disc brakes were developed in the 1890's in England, and used a rotor and hydraulic caliper to provide much stronger stopping power than the drum brake alternatives. A steel rotor (disc) is bolted to the wheel hub, and a fixed brake caliper
which surrounds a portion of the rotor is bolted to a bracket that attaches to the steering knuckle or spindle arm. Brake pads are inserted on either side of the caliper, and are pressed against the front and rear surfaces of the rotor by way of hydraulically actuated pistons. That type of system was expensive at the time, so it did not find widespread use until the 1950's and 60's when auto manufacturers started offering them as optional equipment on sports cars. Today, brake calipers are found on all light-duty and commercial production vehicles built today.
Installing your new calipers.
Checking, rebuilding, or replacing your brake calipers doesn't have to be a huge task, and can be performed by any trained technician. Even a moderately experienced DIY-er can do the job as long as proper safety measures are followed.
- First, the car must be lifted and set on jack stands. The wheels must be removed to expose the brake caliper and rotor.
- Next, you will need to bleed the brake lines of all air and brake fluid. This usually requires two people, and should only be done if you are completely familiar with the procedure.
- After bleeding, you can now remove the brake caliper from the mounting bracket and the pads from the caliper. At this time, check the mounting hardware to see if it can be reused or needs to be replaced.
- Then, thoroughly clean the caliper and remove the seals. As long as there is no heavy corrosion to the body of the caliper or the cylinder the piston sits in, you can simple replace the pistons and the seals. Your caliper is now rebuilt and can be re-installed.
- Finally, if there is no saving your brake caliper then a new one must be installed. You might as well take this time and replace the pads as well.
Let's get started.
Making the decision to buy new brake calipers is not to be taken lightly, and with the options available it may seem like a difficult task. Car Parts Discount offers remanufactured, new reproduction, and new original equipment brake calipers and caliper rebuild kits from dozens of manufacturers for thousands of vehicles. We also have a limited supply of loaded calipers - brake calipers with the pads already installed - for some applications, saving you time and money. No matter your budget or the scale of the job, we have the parts you need to get it done right.