Brake caliper

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Brake Caliper

 In this page you will learn what a brake caliper is, how it works, its location, and a detailed step by step guide to its replacement.

What is a brake caliper?

A brake caliper is a device used to push the brake pads against the surface of the brake rotor to slow the car down.

How does a brake caliper work?

The brake caliper works with hydraulic pressure, every time you push the brake pedal, the brake fluid travels from the brake master cylinder to the brake proportioning valve (when the car is not equipped with ABS), if the car has ABS, the brake fluid travels through the ABS Hydraulic control unit, and from there the brake fluid travels inside the brake lines all the way to the brake calipers, this hydraulic pressure pushes one or more cylinders inside the brake caliper against the brake pads, this pressure forces the brake pads to make contact with the brake rotor, the force will be relatively equal to the force applied by the driver to the brake pedal.

  - How do I know if I have a bad brake caliper in my car or truck?
- The signs of a bad brake caliper are the following:
1- Brake fluid is leaking past the seals in the caliper pistons.
2- The car always pulls to one side when the brakes are applied ( signs of a sticking brake caliper )
3- Premature brake pads wear. (Also caused by sticking brake calipers)

NOTE:  Most of the time, the calipers stick due to lack of lubricant, causing them to malfunction and give all the symptoms that a bad brake caliper gives, before you replace these items, make sure that you clean all the moving parts thoroughly with brake cleaner and that they are properly lubricated, 9 out of ten times that simple job takes care of a sticking caliper (s) problem.

In this and the following pages we will show you how to replace the brake calipers in different makes and models, we will start with a 1998 Ford F-150 2wd pick-up. You will learn how to replace the driver's side front brake caliper.

As we get different vehicles (different makes and models) in our shop, we will document the process for you to learn how to perform this repair in your own vehicle.

To be able to replace the front brake caliper, you will need
to lift the vehicle and secure it on jack stands, make sure
that the parking brake is set, and place wheel chucks on
the rear wheels for added safety.

Proceed to remove the wheel, place a pan under the caliper
to catch the brake fluid that will be lost while performing
this job.

Remove the bolt that secures the brake hose to the brake
caliper, and move the brake hose out of the way.

Next remove the two bolts that secure the brake caliper
in place and remove it from the vehicle.

Remove the pins where the caliper bolts where and clean
them thoroughly with brake cleaner.

With the caliper pins removed, spray inside the bushings
with brake cleaner, do this till all the dry grease is removed.

Lubricate the pins with caliper lube, this will allow the 
brake caliper to work properly, proceed to install them 
back on the vehicle.

Add disc brake quiet to the caliper pistons and the opposite 
side where the caliper will make contact with the brake pads.


Install the new brake caliper hardware to the brake
caliper and proceed to install it on the vehicle.


Install the new copper washers to the bolt that secures the
brake hose, one in each side of the end of the brake hose,
this will prevent brake fluid leaks, fasten the brake hose
to the caliper, make sure that the bolt is tight. (Don't
over tighten it or you will break it!)



Bleed the air out of the system making sure that you have
plenty of brake fluid in the reservoir, if you allow it to run
out, air will enter the system and you will have to do
it all over again.

NOTE:  If you don't have a brake bleeder like the one in
the picture you have two options to bleed the air out
of the brake system:

1- Have an assistance depress the brake pedal as you open
the bleeder in the brake caliper, close the bleeder before he
releases the brake pedal, once the bleeder is closed, ask him
or her to let the brake pedal up , ask him or her to pump the
pedal a couple of times and repeat the procedure till there is
no air coming out when you open the bleeder.

2- If you don't have an assistance, hook a brake hose
to the bleeder in the brake caliper, place the end of the hose
in a clean container, add a little brake fluid to the container,
open the bleeder slightly and slowly depress the pedal and
allow it to go up slowly several times, this will allow the air
to exit the system without allowing air in.