Brake caliper replacement — When to replace brake caliper
Do you really need a new brake caliper?
If you change your brake fluid and service the brake caliper slide pins and boots, you should not need brake caliper replacement on every brake job. In fact, most brake calipers last 150K miles or more. Many shops automatically replace brake calipers if they see evidence of binding, but binding alone is not a reason to replace the entire caliper.
Brake caliper abutment areas and caliper slide pins can rust and bind causing brake release issues. Binding causes the brake pads to wear unevenly, make noise and require more braking effort. But rust and binding issues can be fixed without a full brake caliper replacement.
Technicians can easily clean the rust the brake pad abutment areas and apply corrosion resistant brake grease. Corroded slide pins and protective rubber boots can be replaced separately for about $22 per wheel.
Even if the corrosion in the caliper bracket bores is severe, the shop can replace just the caliper bracket for about $32 instead of the entire caliper.
In the vast majority of cases, you do not need to replace the entire brake caliper to fix corrosion issues!
If the shop finds these conditions do NOT require new brake calipers
• Corroded or seized caliper slide pins. Corroded caliper slide pins can be replaced with new parts for about $11 per wheel.
• Corroded bores on caliper bracket. Severely corroded caliper brackets can be replaced with a rebuilt bracket for around $32 each.
• Degraded or torn caliper slide pin boots can be replaced for $11 per wheel.
• The brake pads show uneven wear. Uneven wear is most often caused by rust buildup or corroded caliper slide pins. Fix the problem with new slide pins and possibly a rebuilt bracket and clean off the rust buildup instead of buying new brake calipers.
Brake caliper replacement is mandatory for these these conditions:
The brake caliper is leaking brake fluid
The brake caliper piston dust boot is torn
The brake caliper piston is seized in the bore
The brake caliper piston doesn’t retract quickly when you take your foot off the brake. The tell-tale signs of a brake caliper piston that’s not releasing properly is glazed heat soaked brake pads. The square cut O-ring flexes as you apply the brakes. When you release the brake, the O-ring relaxes and pulls the caliper piston back into the bore. As the rubber O-ring ages, it loses flexibility and takes longer to relax. That keeps the brake pads engaged with the rotor longer, causing the pads to overheat and glaze. Corroded brake caliper slide pins can cause the same overheating. But if the pins are moving smoothly but the pads show signs of overheating and glazing, chances are the square cut O-ring isn’t doing its job properly. The caliper must be rebuilt or replaced.
Price difference between full brake caliper replacement versus fixing just what’s wrong
Most rust issues can be fixed with new slide pins and a boot kit for a total cost of around $75 per wheel. Even in a worst case scenario, it’s still cheaper to replace just these parts rather than a new caliper.
©, 2019 Rick Muscoplat