What Are Brake Calipers
Brake calipers are an important component of your car’s braking system and play a vital role in slowing or stopping the vehicle. The majority of cars these days have disc brakes, if not in all the wheels then in the front wheel for sure.
The brake caliper contains your car’s brake pads and pistons. Its job is to slow the car’s wheels by making friction with the brake rotors. In a disc-braking system the car’s wheels are connected to metal discs, or rotors, that spin along side the wheels.
The brake caliper fits like a clamp on a wheels’ rotor to prevent the wheel from turning once you step on the brakes. Once you push the brake pedal, brake fluid creates pressure on pistons inside the brake caliper, forcing the pads against the brake rotor and decelerating your car.
Types of brake calipers
Brake calipers come in two types — Floating (Sliding) and Fixed. Floating calipers function in relative motion to the rotor, moving in and out as per the rotor’s motion. They house one or two pistons only, located on the inboard side of the rotor. The piston pushes the caliper when the brakes are applied. This in turn enables the brake pads to create friction on both sides of the rotor.
Fixed calipers, going by their name, are stationary. They have pistons on the opposite sides of the rotor. In some high end cars, fixed calipers also have two or more pair of pistons on the opposing ends, often known as pots.
While fixed calipers are more costly than floating ones, they are more performance oriented. This is why fixed calipers are found in most of the sports and supercars as they do a wonderful job in stopping cars at a fast speed.
Maintaining your brake calipers
When you apply your car’s brakes, there is a substantial amount of heat generated inside the braking system. This not only wear and tears the system but also weakens or in some cases breaks down the seals of the caliper.
On the other hand, if you don’t take your car for a spin regularly, there are chances that your calipers might rust, get contaminated or even start to leak brake fluid! While all these are a bit hard to notice at first sight, here are some tell tale signs that your car’s brake calipers need to be checked at once:
- Your brakes make a squeaking or grinding noise when applied,
- The antilock braking system (ABS) warning light turns on your dash,
- There are sudden jerks while applying brakes,
- Your brake pedal is either too soft or too hard,
- You need to constantly pump your brakes for them to function,
- There is leakage of brake fluids around the engine or wheels.
The key to maintaining brake calipers is replacing them immediately if any of the above mentioned symptoms show up. They can be bought as new parts or even as good quality second hand or replacement parts. Almost all private garages offer you replacement brake calipers with great quality, safety and durability.