Calipers on Car: Everything You Need to Know

Efficient brakes are the safeguard of a car and calipers on car are the most crucial components of the car braking system. They ensure the smooth working of car brakes on all types of roads. They usually have a long life span, but lack of regular inspection and maintenance can result in bad calipers which can greatly reduce the brake’s performance.

Before moving towards the functionality and importance of these crucial components of the braking system, we need to know what are a brake caliper and their different types;

What Are Calipers?

These are the must-have components of most cars with disc brake systems. They are present on each wheel and work on the base of hydraulic pressure. Their main role is to cause friction between wheels by squeezing the brake pads against the rotters. It results in slowing down and finally stopping the car. Any damage to calipers can result in multiple troubles including brake fails and life-threatening road accidents.

Types of Car Calipers

Depending on the number of pistons and adjustment with discs, they are classified into three categories.

Floating: as indicated by the name, they can easily move back towards their inboard side. It happens because of the presence of one or two pistons only on one side of the rotter. When you apply the brake, the brake pads present on both sides of the rotter produce friction as a result of the pistons’ force on the calipers.

Fixed: unlike floating and sliding calipers, they are unmovable and deliver the best braking performance. They have pistons on both sides of the rotter which restrict them to slide back and forth. However, floating calipers are cheaper than fixed ones.

Sliding: they are just like floating calipers. But in this case, the brakes are attached to the adopters.

The Crucial Role of Car Brake Calipers in Preventing Fatal Road Accidents

Signs Your Car Calipers Need Replacement?

Car brake calipers play an important role in a car’s braking performance and adding calipers to your car’s brakes can eliminate the risk of fatal road accidents due to poor braking systems. Continuous overheating, rush driving, and shocks can damage car calipers and reduce their efficiency. Some common signs or symptoms of bad car calipers are listed below;

  • Prominent vibration due to improper release of brakes.
  • Smoke emission from wheels with a strong burning smell.
  • Experiencing one side pulling off the car when braking.
  • Receiving signals by auto brakes about something abnormal.
  • Premature wearing of brake pads.
  • High-pitched squealing and clunking sound.
  • Leaking brake fluids.

What Causes Bad Brake Calipers?

Brake calipers are quite hard and durable. They can’t easily damage and reduce their normal functionality. However, skipping regular maintenance and ignoring the early signs or symptoms of damaged car calipers can lead to their complete failure.

Some common causes of damaged calipers are listed below.

Sudden Shock On Roads

One of the major reasons for bad car calipers is a sudden shock on roads due to bumps or rocks. It can severely damage the piston rings and brake pads which results in poor performance of the calipers.

Sudden Shock On Roads


Usually, calipers last till 100,000 miles and do not need a replacement for decay and even more in the case of a high-quality brake system. However, they are made of metal and can easily be contaminated with rust due to excessive accumulation of fluids and dust.


Overheating is another culprit behind bad car calipers. They are usually protected by friction material. But continuous overheating can destroy the friction material and lead to the premature tearing of car calipers due to overheating.

Lack of Lubrication

Using cheap lubricants and skipping regular cleaning or maintenance can also result in calipers wearing out and stopping performing their job. However, lubricating them properly with good-quality fluid can help you to restore their performance.

The Key to Restoring Brake Caliper Functionality through Proper Lubrication and Quality Fluids

Stuck or Damage Pistons

Pistons play a crucial role in the normal functioning of car calipers. However, in some cases, they become stuck or damaged and cause the wearing of car calipers. Usually, they get stuck to the retracted position and against the rotter which results in failure to engage the pad, badly damaged rotter, and wearing down friction material.

Repairing or replacing pistons and fixing them to the right position can solve this problem.

How To Fix It?

  • The best way to protect your calipers from premature tearing and wearing is regular inspection, cleaning, and repair. It not only keeps your brake calipers in good condition but also improves the overall performance of the car.
  • Another effective way to upgrade your braking system is lubrication. You can use high-quality lubricants to protect them from wearing.
  • You can easily transform your car’s braking system with new calipers. The best way to replace them is by sending your vehicle to a creditable service station.

Brake Calipers Replacement Cost

It depends on the type of vehicle and the number of calipers you need to replace. Usually, the price of a rear brake caliper ranges from $80 to $90. However, it can be higher for high-quality calipers. On the other hand, labor costs are estimated between $130 and $ 150.

Final Thought

Now you have a better idea about what are calipers on a car, how long they last, and when to replace brake calipers. Therefore, you can better take care of your car braking system and improve its efficiency. Make sure to send your vehicle for regular service to a creditable service station and add to its longevity and performance.

Last Updated on May 19, 2023 by admin

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