A brake caliper is a key part to your car and your car’s safety. Here, in this article, we look at what exactly a brake caliper is and how it works. In this way, it becomes easier to see why a brake caliper replacement can cost what it does as well as what will happen when a brake caliper is no longer working. We also investigate the best way to replace a brake caliper if you choose to go down the DIY route as opposed to taking your car to a trained mechanic to have your calipers fixed by a professional.
What Is A Brake Caliper? And How Does A Brake Caliper Work?
In short, a brake caliper is a part of your car that gives it the ability to stop. It is part of the overall brake system and fundamental to how well your brakes work. As a result, your brake caliper is therefore essential to keeping you safe when out driving so that you can stop at will and in an emergency.
Brake calipers squeeze your car’s brake pads against your car’s brake rotor surface. This is what causes your wheel to stop moving or, at the very least, slow down. More specifically, your brake caliper fits so exactly over the rotor that it is almost like a clamp. Your caliper is then made up of a two metal plates that are your brake pads. These brake pads fit to the outside of your car’s wheel and the inside.
To cause your car to stop, by pressing down on your brake, you are activating the process that makes brake fluid in the master cylinder create pressure on pistons in the brake caliper. The result is that the caliper forces the brake pads against the car’s rotor. Brake pads are finished with a high friction surface to that it can effectively slow the rotor down or bring it to a total stop. The rotor is attached to your car’s wheels.
What Happens If The Brake Caliper Is Broken?
A broken brake caliper can have some pretty serious repercussions if they are not addressed soon enough. They’re a small and fairly inexpensive car part, but they do play an essential role in your car’s safety features.
When a brake caliper is broken, or not working as effectively as it should, they are often referred to as sticking calipers. This is because they’ll keep your brake pads a little bit depressed at all times. This can have negative effects on your car’s transmission system and cause it to wear more than it would do ordinarily. The transmission of your car is arguably your car’s most important part and it is certainly the most expensive. The reason that sticking calipers can cause more wear than naturally occurs within engines otherwise, is that they affect the speed of your vehicle relative to its wheels. If they are constantly causing your car to drive at a slower speed, yet you are asking it to drive more quickly, the transmission system is put under more stress than usual.
The Cost of Brake Caliper Replacement
To a certain extent, the cost of a brake caliper replacement will largely depend on the make and brand of your car. However, it’s not impossible to get a ballpark figure at the very least before going to the mechanics to have a caliper or two replaced. Having knowledge of the probable costs that you could incur is good practice as it means that you will never be ripped off for a job that should be far cheaper than your local auto shop is charging.
In all, parts and labor will cost around $300 to $400 on an average sized saloon car. Other than the parts themselves, any variances in price should really only come from the experience of the mechanic you are using. You should not be paying through the nose for an inexperienced car mechanic to fit your new brake calipers. Either way, when replacing your brake calipers, a trained mechanic should do the following to earn his wage:
- Inspect your brakes and see whether there is a problem with just one or more of your brake calipers
- Replace the amount of calipers needed to keep your car running safely.
- Provide advice on whether your overall braking system is working as efficiently and effectively as possible.
- Bleed your brake system so that it works at its optimum levels again.
- Top up any brake fluid that is needed or required within the system.
- Drive your car in a contained and safe area to ensure that your brake system is working properly again.
- Inspect the brake system after the test drive to ensure that each part is where it should be and working as it should be too.
- Repeat the process if the final inspection produces any problems that need fixing.
How To Replace A Brake Caliper
If you want to cut out the mechanic costs of fitting your brake caliper, it is possible to do it yourself if you feel confident enough to do so.
- Step 1:
Park and jack up your vehicle securely. To do so, use your axle stands and wheel chocks. From here, totally remove the road wheel from the car.
- Step 2:
Find the carrier which is ordinarily bolted to a wheel’s hub with two bolts. It is possible to leave these in the same place if you only replacing your car’s caliper. However, if you are also choosing to change the brake disc at this point, it’s a good idea to remove the carrier too.
- Step 3:
The caliper that you want to replace can be found secured to the carrier by two bolts which have allen heads. This means that the bolts secure a pair of sliding pins within the caliper body itself.
- Step 4:
When you have removed the allen bolts totally, you can then take the caliper carefully of the brake disc. This can be a fiddly part of the job, so it may be prudent to use a great deal of care if using a pry bar.
- Step 5:
When you have removed the caliper, you can then pull the brake pads out too. This is often a little easier as they are only held in by clips
- Step 6:
The brake line then needs to be taken away from the caliper. This also needs to be completed with the utmost care. Keep a container nearby so that you can catch any brake fluid that will spill. It is imperative not to get any brake fluid on your car’s paintwork.
- Step 7:
Pick up the new caliper and make sure that you have totally pushed back the piston into the cylinder itself. This can be done with pliers or clamp, but either way it is essential not to miss this step.
- Step 8:
Fit the brake pads back to the new caliper with the clips or pins that you removed earlier.
- Step 9:
Reposition and refit the sliding bolts from the caliper. Before going any further, make sure that they are working properly and sliding smoothly.
- Step 10:
Spin the hub so that the calipers have the correct position over the disc. There should no to light binding only.
- Step 11:
Using all the bolts that were removed, secure the brake hose back into place and bleed the caliper of any air that has got into the part.
- Step 12:
Check the amount of brake fluid within your brake system and top up as needed
- Step 13:
Ensure that any parts and bolts that were removed have been reattached and put back properly and securely.
- Step 14:
Pump the brake pedal as many times as required to ensure that the brake pad is brought back into contact with the disc.
- Step 15:
Conduct a test run of your new brake system in a controlled area.
Brake Caliper Replacement Cost – The Bottom Line
Given the importance of a brake caliper to the safety and efficacy of your car and its ability to stop, it is essential to have them repaired and replaced as and when they need it. Car part replacements are never cheap, but they are worth the money to ensure that your car is running as it should so that you can be confident your car will work as you need it to. Ultimately, this will keep you safe whilst you are out driving, as well as your passengers and fellow road users. A faulty brake caliper can seriously hamper your car’s ability to stop when it is required to do so, which can have drastic repercussions in emergency situations. It is not, therefore, a car part to try to save money on by not replacing when needed.
- Brake Caliper Replacement Service – YourMechanic