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How to clean rust off of calipers

Updated February 21, 2017

When the brakes on your car have been exposed to winter weather and road salt, the brake calipers can begin to rust. Once rust appears, it will continue to eat away at the metal until the calipers go bad and need to be replaced. Clean the rust off of your brake calipers before it causes permanent damage.

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  1. Move the car to a garage or other enclosed area where you can work.

  2. Raise one corner of the car up off the ground with a car jack. Set a jack stand under the frame to help support the vehicle.

  3. Remove the wheel from the vehicle using a tire iron or an air gun to loosen the lug nuts. Take off the tire and set it aside.

  4. Lay down on an automotive creeper and wheel it under the vehicle to examine the brake caliper. Identify the areas of surface rust.

  5. Slide out from under the vehicle and insert a wire brush attachment into a power drill.

  6. Wheel the automotive creeper back under the vehicle and use the drill, with the wire brush attachment, to remove the rust. Press the trigger on the drill to spin the wire brush attachment.

  7. Wipe of the caliper with a damp rag or cloth to remove any dust and dirt from the caliper. Spray the caliper with caliper paint. This will help to protect the caliper from rust and heat.

  8. Remove the jack stand and release the car jack to lower the corner of the vehicle.

  9. Repeat this process on the opposite side of the vehicle to clean the rust on the other front brake caliper.

  10. Tip

    If you do not have a wire brush attachment for your power drill, use a hand-held wire brush to work the rust off of the caliper.


    Wear eye protection so you do not get metal pieces in your eyes when using the wire brush attachment on the calipers.

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Things You'll Need

  • Car jack
  • Jack stands
  • Tire iron or air gun
  • Power drill
  • Wire brush attachment
  • Caliper paint

About the Author

Cameron Easey

Cameron Easey has over 15 years customer service experience, with eight of those years in the insurance industry. He has earned various designations from organizations like the Insurance Institute of America and LOMA. Easey earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history from Western Michigan University.

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