RANT: DIY Painted Brake Calipers + Do’s and Don’ts or Painting Calipers

Nothing says “low class” more than painted brake calipers on a cheap car. It is unclear when this trend started, but I am sure that it starter when wheels started to cross the 17″ mark. Historically, brake calipers were black, silver or a gold Cadmium plating. The color of the brake caliper was dictated by the material.

Up until the early 1990s, all high performance vehicles from Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche sported black or silver brake calipers. Some say it was the Ferrari 355 that started the trend with red powder coated Brembo calipers. After that, even the 1995 Pontiac Grand Am GT came with red brake calipers. Today, most people know if they see a Porsche with yellow brake calipers, they dished out $7,000 or more for the carbon ceramic brake package.


A little over kill…


I’m Loving It! Not really, this is more distracting than a happy meal to a three year old.

DIY caliper painting took off in the 1990s when somebody decided to try high-temperature engine paint on their calipers. When the paint companies saw this they encouraged the trend by making caliper specific paint.

Here are a few tips if you are planning to paint your calipers

DO paint the caliper if it is a is a performance caliper with opposing pistons.

DON’T paint the caliper a bright color if it is single piston caliper mounted on a tiny rotor. Go with black, it will make your wheels look better. A brightly colored caliper can be a visual distraction and make the wheels look cheap.

DO remove the caliper from the vehicle or at least remove on caliper guide pin bolt and swing it up or down. Remove the hardware and pads so they are not covered in paint.


Nice job with the rattle clip!

DON’T paint the entire caliper on the car. Paint on some surfaces can cause the caliper to seize. Avoid any surfaces that come in contact with the pad.

DO replace the hardware after painting the caliper. Shiny abutment clips, shims and anti-rattle clips will add some extra bling.

DON’T paint the areas of the rotor/disc that make contact with the pads. Paint contains components that can contaminate the brake pad and change the friction levels. This contamination can stick around long after the rotors looks like it is nice and shiny.

DO  use the right products. Brake calipers can get hotter than the engine, so the right paint is critical. Some two-part epoxy paints the are applied with a brush work great and lasts a long time.

BAD BRAKES: Guess Why These Pads Failed Too Soon


This was posted on YouTube yesterday. It shows a soaked set of brake pads next to one rotor that looks normal and the other has a bronze color. The pads on the normal looking rotor look to be in decent shape. The other side with the discolored rotor has uneven wear. From the makings on the pads, it looks like the outer pad took most of the abuse while the inner pad has some tapered wear.

So what happened?

My best guess is that the caliper slides or guide pins or the pad seized in the bracket. This prevented the caliper from applying equal force on the pads. Eventually, the piston seal began to leak brake fluid.

Your guess? Leave it in the comments below.

Brake Cable Manufacturer Takes on Inferior Brake Cables

Bruin Brake Cables

What does it take to sell a quality American made automotive part from an American auto parts store? That’s a good question and one that is troubling Rick Gelscheit, the owner of Bruin Brake Cables, the last U.S. manufacturer of aftermarket emergency brake cables. It seems that it’s much easier selling to auto parts chains if the return address is overseas or south of the border.

“We sell emergency brake cables that pass a 1,200-foot-pound pressure test virtually every time,” he said. “We give the exact same test to foreign cables and they fail almost nine out of 10 of the time. Yet, if you go to an auto parts store for an emergency brake cable, your only choice is the inferior foreign cable.”

Not long ago, one of the monolithic automotive parts distributors, selling mostly foreign made automotive parts, including emergency brake cables, tried to hire Gelscheit to package foreign cables. Of course, he’d have to sell off all his equipment for making his emergency brake cables. Gelscheit felt like Jimmy Stewart talking to Old Man Potter, the latter with clearly nefarious motives.

When he refused the deal, he was threatened.

“I was told, if I don’t go along, they’ll sell their cables at a loss for as long as it takes to put me out of business,”

Read the Rest of the Story at Bruin Brake Cables 

BRAKING FAQ: Can Brake Fluid Freeze?

NOFreeze Brake Fluid

Technically brake fluid can’t freeze solid like water due to the fact that it is an oil. But it can reach a point where it becomes so thick that it no longer becomes effective at transferring force from the master cylinder to the wheels. The fluid can “gel” or congeal. Base mineral oil has a “working point” of -22C or -30F. But, it will never turn into a solid.

Additives to the base oil can push the limit to -45F or lower. It the temperatures go lower chances are the pedal will be stiff, but not frozen. After a few stops, the heat of the brakes would warm the fluid. If you are driving in temperatures below -50F, you have a lot more problems than the brake fluid like engine oil and coolant.

Theoretically, the ABS pump on some vehicles could have problems if it activate and the brake fluid was thick enough. This could introduce air bubbles into the brake fluid. Also, since brake fluid is hydroscopic (absorbs water), the additional water can influence the viscosity at lower temperatures.

No, DOT 3,4 and 5.1 brake fluid will not freeze preventing you from stopping altogether. Chances are if you have experiences a hard brake pedal in the winter, it is condensation in the brake booster or vacuum supply hose that has frozen.