How to Paint Disc Brake Calipers

Written by jack hathcoat
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How to Paint Disc Brake Calipers
Painted calipers look clean and enhance custom wheels. (wheel image by sasha from

Brake fluid is not kind to paint--it penetrates deeply into the finish and permanently stays there; and it creates an annoying spot that looks like it should polish out, but instead is permanent--no amount of polish will get a brake fluid stain out. Luckily, with the right approach in painting calipers, there is no brake fluid to deal with. All caliper painting is performed with the calipers mounted on the car. There are, though, two paint processes to consider; either brush-on, or spray-on. Brush-on is the preferred method.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Wire brush
  • Sandpaper (80-grit, 220-grit.)
  • Steel wool pads
  • Hard-bristle nylon brush
  • Degrease solution
  • 1 gallon bucket
  • Sponge
  • Rubber gloves
  • Masking tape
  • Brake caliper paint kit
  • Mop paint brush
  • Fitch brush

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  1. 1

    Purchase a caliper paint kit. Select a kit that has brush-on paint. This product has been specifically engineered to be applied to brake calipers and is unquestionably superior to common, off-the-shelf paints. As an engineered product, it will contain an etching agent, a priming agent, a quality binder, colourant, and will be heat resistant. Spray-paint products don't offer this in an all-in-one product. These kits are available at auto parts stores and on the Web.

  2. 2

    Jack the front end up, place jack stands under the frame and lower the vehicle. Leave the steering wheel in the unlocked position, so that the steering knuckle can be moved by hand. Remove both tires.

  3. 3

    Pull the brake caliper and rotor assembly outward. Dry-brush the caliper with a wire brush. It is important to remove all rust or flaking metal from the rotor. Don't shortcut this process. Use assorted sandpapers or steel wool pads to get the job done. Repeat this process on the opposite brake caliper.

  4. 4

    Mix the strongest recommended solution of degrease solution. This solution is extremely alkaline and will irritate skin. Wear rubber gloves, and sponge this solution over the brake rotors. Use a stiff-bristle nylon brush and scrub the calipers. Rinse them with clean water. Wipe them down with a clean, absorbent paper towel. Inspect the calipers for any hidden rust or scale. Repeat the wire brush and degrease process until the rotors are completely clean. Allow adequate drying time, usually four hours at the minimum.

  5. 5

    Mask off the bleeder valve, the brake hose fitting and the immediate area surrounding the rotor--this includes the rotor and the caliper-mounting bracket on the inboard side of the rotor.

  6. 6

    Brush the paint on the rotor. Most kits will come with a solvent that must be used before applying the paint, and a paint brush of highly questionable quality. To get a good finish, cut in the detail areas with a Fitch brush and paint with a mop brush. These can be purchased very inexpensively at craft stores and are a worth the extra expense. Allow the paint to dry, based on manufacturer's directions. Install the tires and lower the vehicle to the ground.

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