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How To Paint Brake Calipers

painted brake caliper

Want to learn how to paint brake calipers? Painted brake calipers are an easy way to add a bit of “pop” to your ride without much effort. As with any automotive painting project the most important steps happen before the first drop of paint is ever applied. Take your time in getting the preparation right and you will be rewarded with a nice paint job that will last.

Safety First

Make sure before you start your brake caliper painting project to collect a few safety items. You will want a pair of gloves, a pair of safety glasses, and jack stands. Whenever you jack up a vehicle and remove a wheel to work, always rest the weight of the vehicle on a jack stand, never the jack. Jacks can fail, so don’t gamble. Use a jack stand and be safe. If you are using spray paint make sure to work in a well ventilated area away from any open flames or other fire ignition sources.

Picking The Right Paint

Brake calipers see extreme temperatures that require the right kind of high-temperature paint. Only use paint designed for use on brake calipers. For most people the best brake caliper paint is going to be the one that suits your time availability and skill level. Spray paint can be faster, but it can be messier. Brush-on paint takes more time to apply but can be more precise. There are also different colors to choose from:

Getting Started

In this example we are going to go over how to paint brake calipers without removing them from the vehicle. This saves time and means you won’t have to break the seal on the braking system. You will still need to temporarily remove the brake caliper from the mount, but it will still stay attached to the vehicle.

  1. Jack up the vehicle, support the vehicle on a jack stand, and remove the wheel. 
  2. Locate the caliper mounting bolts and remove the caliper from the mount. Do not let the caliper hang from the brake hose. Support the caliper in your hand or use a hook if necessary.
  3. Remove the brake pads, noting which pad is the inner and which is the outer.
  4. Pick your favorite can of brake parts cleaner and give the caliper a good thorough cleaning. Years of road grime may need a wire brush to really get things clean. The goal is to remove any dirt, grease, or grime that could prevent the brake caliper paint from sticking to the metal body of the caliper. Let the caliper dry.
  5. Time to mask off the suspension, brake rotor, and inner wheel well. Use brown paper or just plain newspaper and cover anything you don’t want painted. Make sure the brake rotor is covered as you do not want to get paint on the braking surface. Once everything is covered you can hang the brake caliper back on the mounting bracket (without brake pads). You may need to make a small hole in the paper to allow each caliper mounting bolt to go through.
  6. Now you are ready for brake caliper painting. Grab the can of paint caliper spray paint and remove the cap. Like most automotive painting projects, the key is many light paint coats versus a single heavy coat. Spray a light coat and let it dry for a few minutes. Then proceed with the next coat. This technique helps prevent drips and runs in the paint.
  7. Once you are satisfied with the level of paint on the caliper let it dry for two hours. After two hours the paint should be dry enough to allow for removal of the masking paper.

Finishing Up

  1. Remove the brake caliper from the caliper mount.
  2. Reinstall the brake pads, noting to place the inner and outer brake pads back correctly.
  3. Reinstall the brake caliper back onto the caliper mount. You may need to compress the brake caliper piston slightly to fit over the brake rotor.
  4. Tighten the brake caliper bolts to the correct torque setting found in the service manual.
  5. Reinstall the wheel and tighten the lug nuts in a star-pattern to the correct torque setting found in the service manual. You can now lower the vehicle back to the ground.
  6. Let the paint dry a full 24 hours before driving the vehicle.

While painting brake calipers won’t make you stop any faster or shorter, they will make your vehicle look sharper. If you want to stand out from the crowd, this simple mod might be just the ticket.

Check out all the brake products available on NAPAonline, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA Auto Care locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to paint brake calipers, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.

Photo courtesy of pxhere.

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