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How Do Brake Calipers Work?

How Do Brake Calipers Work? | Griffin Muffler & Brake Center

Brake calipers play a crucial role in vehicles' braking systems, serving as a vital component in ensuring road safety. Today's article aims to provide an objective analysis of brake calipers, exploring their function, types, structure, common issues, and maintenance tips.

Brake Calipers Explained

Brake calipers are mechanical devices positioned over the vehicle's rotor, next to the wheels. They function by pressing the brake pads against the rotors to slow down or stop the vehicle. The importance of brake calipers lies in their central role in the braking process, directly influencing the vehicle's stopping ability and safety.

Different types of brake calipers are designed for various vehicle models and driving conditions. The most common types are fixed calipers and floating (or sliding) calipers. 

Fixed calipers, generally found in high-performance vehicles, provide greater stability and braking power. 

Floating calipers, more common in standard vehicles, are lighter and less expensive but equally effective.

Anatomy of a Brake Caliper

A brake caliper's structure is relatively complex. Key components include:

  • Caliper Body: The main frame that houses other parts.
  • Pistons: These push the pads against the rotor.
  • Brake Pads: The friction material that makes contact with the rotor.
  • Sliding Pins (in floating calipers): Allow lateral movement.
  • The caliper is connected to the brake system through a series of hoses and tubes, allowing brake fluid to transfer the force from the brake pedal to the pads and rotors.

Common Issues with Brake Calipers

Brake calipers can encounter several issues, affecting the braking efficiency. Five common problems include:

Sticking Calipers
Resulting from dirt, rust, or lack of lubrication, leading to reduced braking power and uneven pad wear.

Brake fluid leaks from the caliper can lead to a loss of pressure and braking power.

Worn Seals
Over time, the seals inside the caliper can wear out, causing fluid leaks and air entry.

Exposure to water and salt, especially in colder climates, can cause calipers to corrode and malfunction.

Uneven Pad Wear
Caused by caliper misalignment or sticking, leading to one-sided wear of the brake pads.

Unusual Maintenance Tips for Brake Calipers

In addition to the regular checks and maintenance, some unusual yet effective tips for maintaining brake calipers include:

Temperature Checks
After a drive, checking the temperature of the calipers can indicate if they are working harder than normal.

Regular Cleaning with Specific Products
Using brake cleaner can help prevent dirt build-up and sticking.

Lubrication of Component Parts
Proper lubrication, especially in sliding calipers, ensures smooth operation.

Checking for Rust and Corrosion Regularly
If you're living in an area with unforgiving weather, you know how crucial it is to be prepared. That's why this next point is especially vital - it could be the difference between a comfortable day and a downright miserable one.

Decreased brake performance? Maybe your car needs a quick check-up? Whatever it is, Griffin Muffler & Brake Center is here to help - just give us a call, book an appointment, and we will take care of the rest.

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