If You’re Going to Paint Your Calipers, At Least Do it Right

A while back we posted a piece about painted calipers do’s and don’ts, and while there was a lot of good information included, some people took offense to our dislike of painted calipers. I’m not the car judgment police, but I do think that some folks don’t really care how they look as long as there’s some red paint on them.

Well, if you’re going to do it, you may as well do a good job. Am I right? We scoured Youtube and were amazed at how many videos tackle the subject. So I guess it’s a trend, of sorts, if you’re into that sort of thing. I have a relatively sporty modern classic that I will attempt to paint the calipers on later this spring, but for now, let’s go over some things you need to do it right.

First of all, old rusty and grimy calipers (and brackets) need to come off. And while you have them off, you may want to flush your brake fluid while you’re at it. Brake fluid should be flushed about every 30,000 miles, depending on your driving style. If you drive like Mario Andretti, you may need more frequent flushes, as well as you might consider upgrading your fluid to a higher quality brake fluid that offers a higher boiling point. But follow manufacturer recommendations as to the type of fluid you use.

After the calipers are removed, being very careful with hardlines, give the components a good wash down with brake cleaner. You’ll need a lot of it. Then, break out the wire brush and brush down the surfaces, especially where there’s heavy rust. Remove the hardware if you haven’t already, and clean thoroughly under that area. You may also want to buy new hardware at this point. New sliders can make a big difference and keep the caliper from binding up or wearing the pads unevenly.

Use a screwdriver or a gasket scraper if you need to remove stubborn rust in some areas. Some people also use power tools at this point to wire wheel or lightly sand down the outer surface of the caliper, being careful when scraping or sanding any of the slide points for the brake bad hardware.

Use a good high heat paint like VHT or Eastwood (and others). The paint should be durable and withstand at least 500 degrees F. Some paints go up to as much as 2000 degrees F. If you use a primer, make sure that it is also high heat resistant.

Before you paint, though, use tape to mask off the piston and rubber seal. Take out all of the caliper bracket bolts and clean them up on a wire wheel. Tape off the slider pins and the rubber boots as well or remove and cover the holes with tape.

Spray the paint liberally over the caliper in multiple coats. Don’t put it all on at once or it’s going to run all over the place. Let the paint set for about 10 minutes between coats and you’re done.

If you really want to get fancy with your paint. Check out some of these calipers. There are people painting calipers like their favorite candy bar or even like a Krispy Kreme box. Not sure that will make you stop any quicker, but it will certainly get some attention.