LAST UPDATED: October 13, 2019
Best Brake Calipers: Brake More Smoothly and Efficiently
Add some distance between you and the car in front of you with these powerful brake calipers
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PUBLISHED ON October 13, 2019
There are many components that make up a vehicle’s brake system. If your car features disc brakes, then it comes with rotors, pads, and brake calipers. When you hit the brake pedal, hydraulic pressure runs through the brake line to the calipers, and pistons in the calipers place pressure on pads until the vehicle stops. Using the best brake calipers will improve your ride and comfort on the road. Here are the top-rated calipers you should consider if you need to swap them out.
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Benefits of Brake Calipers
- Protect the brake pads. A high-quality brake caliper completely surrounds the brake pads, keeping them out of harm's way. They can help prevent dust, grime, and dirt from building up under the pads to ensure they work properly when you need them most.
- Lengthen the lifespan. Swapping out your worn-out brake calipers with brand-new ones will lengthen the lifespan of your braking system overall. Those made of copper, metal, and dense ceramic last the longest and wear down your rotors, pads, and discs at a slower rate.
Types of Brake Calipers
Floating calipers feature one or two pistons on the inboard side of the rotor. Each piston pushes the caliper as soon as the brakes are applied to create friction between the brake pads and both sides of the rotor. The calipers move in and out relative to the rotor as well.
The counterpart to floating calipers are fixed ones. As their name suggests, they do not move and instead have pistons arranged on opposite sides of the rotor. These are the most common and have improved performance. However, they’re also more expensive. High-performance fixed calipers can also have more pistons.
ACDelco has been creating parts for vehicles, planes, and spacecraft since 1906. William Durant helped launch the company and worked with General Motors to design spark plugs, shocks, and brake parts for vehicles. One of its brake calipers is the ACDelco Professional Front Side Disc Brake Caliper.
The company has been designing and manufacturing performance brake upgrade parts since 1995. With headquarters in Chicago, Ill., Powerstop is known for its eco-friendly practice in supplying products, such as brake pads, that are 100 percent copper-free. A good set of brake calipers it makes are the Power Stop Performance Caliper.
Brake Calipers Pricing
- $40 or less: You’ll find both front and rear brake calipers in this price range. While they will be made with durable materials, they may only come in pairs of two. It’s recommended you buy four so you can upgrade all of your vehicle’s brake calipers at the same time.
- $100 and up: It is here you will find calipers designed with a sturdier and longer-lasting material. They may even come with more pistons for enhanced performance. Pricier calipers are usually designed for a more aggressive style of driving, such as racing or lengthy travel.
Brake calipers should be made with the strongest and most durable materials. There are a few options to consider, and all will offer you the same benefits and features. However, they may vary in price due to their construction. For example, semi-metallic and full-metallic calipers increase overall braking performance, longevity, and durability. However, they can also be quite noisy and generate brake dust. Ceramic calipers help reduce any noise coming from the brakes and are strong and reliable at a steeper price.
It’s essential you get a set of brake calipers that can take a beating from excessive braking. While it is difficult to judge how long each one should last, they should be durable enough to get through thousands of miles. The strongest ones feature thick metallic pistons and are powder coated as an extra layer of protection to increase their lifespan.
You can tell a caliper is wearing down when it begins to whine and squeal when you press the brake pedal. You may also find calipers can be loud during everyday operation. Fully-metallic and semi-metallic calipers tend to be the noisiest of them all, while ceramic ones are typically the quietest. If you can find calipers with a rubberized coating, they will be the quietest on the road.
- Brake Dust: Over time, your brakes and wheels will see a gathering layer of brake dust. You can lessen the amount of dust on them by choosing a pair of ceramic brake calipers. They produce less dust buildup than their metallic counterparts.
Best Brake Calipers Reviews & Recommendations 2020
Callahan’s brake calipers feature a tough material to reduce noise and dust buildup on your brakes. Each one is developed with premium boots, seals, pins, bolts, and hardware to ensure a high-quality fit and design. As an added bonus, the bleeder screws come with dust covers to prevent any buildup from entering the system.
Each one of these calipers comes with a mounting bracket for easy installation. That bracket also makes them quite versatile. They can either be mounted as replacements for the front calipers or the rear calipers for extra convenience. As far as performance, they are a great improvement for your brake pads and help reduce the stopping time of the vehicle.
As for the downsides, there are a few to note about these calipers. One is that they are not powder coated or painted, so they aren’t the best at fighting against corrosion or rust. The second thing is that they will only fit certain vehicles. You will need to make sure they fit your vehicle before purchasing them.
If you want one of the best-rated brake calipers you can get, consider this product from ACDelco. The company pressure tests each caliper to ensure it provides safe, comfortable, and efficient stopping power. Each one is developed with aluminum and iron castings for a durable, high-quality enhancement to your brake system.
ACDelco’s calipers are also equipped with Ethylene Propylene (EPDM) rubber components that provide superior resistance to heat, corrosion, and leaks. Each one is also quite simple to install yourself using the included mounting brackets, hardware, and copper sealing washers. Plus, the calipers are developed without attached brake pads, giving you more customization when it comes to putting them on by hand.
Keep in mind that the included bolts are small and may not be the toughest you can find. Plus, they may all be a different head size. Also, the calipers are not coated or painted and come in a dull black color. This means while they do feature materials that resist rust, they are capable of rusting more easily with time.
If you want to add some style to your brake system, consider the Power Stop Performance Calipers. Their vibrant red color makes them stand out behind your wheels, while the electrostatic powder-coat helps resist any buildup of corrosion or rust. The extra layer of paint also improves their lifespan and enhances the power of your entire brake system.
That’s not the only component that extends the life of these rear calipers. They also include high-temperature EPDM rubber components and premium silicone lubrication on the caliper pins for improved performance. In addition, they install directly where the old calipers were placed, so upgrading to a new set is not a hassle.
Their red color may also come with a downside, however. It will attract more dust and grime, so you will have to clean them more often to keep them looking new. They are also on the higher price end for a pair of two rear calipers. You can probably buy two separate calipers at a lower price point than these.
These remanufactured brake calipers from Cardone are a direct replacement for your OEM part. They come with 100 percent SAE-specific rubber seals, copper washers, and new bleeder screws. They also come with all of the hardware you need for installation. The entire caliper is also treated with a rust inhibitor to help it retain its finish and prevent corrosion.
This caliper fits these vehicles: 1991-1994 Chrysler LeBaron 2.5L 3.0L, 1991-1993 Chrysler Town & Country, 1991-1995 Dodge Caravan and Grand Caravan, 1992-1993 Dodge Daytona 2.2L, and 1991-1992 Dodge Spirit 2.2L. If you drive something else, check to confirm this caliper is compatible. If it isn’t compatible, Cardone makes several calipers and likely will have one that fits.
Each caliper is 100 percent tested to ensure you have a high-functioning and reliable component for your vehicle. The rubber seals are formulated for use with high heat to give them an extended useful life. The included hardware makes installation faster and easier since you won’t have to struggle with the original hardware or spend time and money seeking out replacement hardware.
Unfortunately, these calipers are remanufactured, which means that they are not brand new. While they go through extensive testing, they can’t guarantee durability or lasting performance. They also lack a color finish, so they lack attractive looks and weather protection.
This semi-loaded brake caliper comes with everything you need to install it, minus the brake pads. This particular caliper is compatible with the 1997 GMC P3500 and 1995 GMC C3500 5.7L 7.4L, but it can fit other vehicles too. Centric makes several calipers, so if these don’t fit your vehicle, they’re sure to have calipers that do.
You get all of the hardware you need to install these calipers for easy installation. If you’re replacing older calipers, then the new hardware can let you replace older components that are worn out or corroded. These calipers go through extensive pressure testing and inspections to ensure they’ll function and fit as intended.
Unfortunately, this caliper is missing the brake pads, so you’ll need to buy those separately to be able to install your new calipers. These are remanufactured calipers, so they aren’t brand new. They also lack any protective or decorative coating.
This brake caliper kit comes with rotors, brake pads, calipers, and all hardware. This kit is designed to fit a 2009-2014 and 2016-2017 Nissan Maxima. Power Stop makes several caliper kits, so if this one doesn’t fit your vehicle, you can still find a kit for your car. Power Stop caliper kits are designed with performance in mind. They’re ideal for increasing your braking power, reducing dust, and improving the look of your car.
If you need to replace your brakes, this kit is ideal because it comes with everything you need. Each included component is of high quality to ensure peak performance and durability. The rotors are drilled and slotted with a zinc plating. The calipers are red powder-coated. The pads are low-dust, which is proved through third-party testing to show a 30 percent decrease in dust versus OEM performance
Unfortunately, buying an entire kit means you lose some control over picking each individual component. This means you may not be getting the best of the best for each component. It also might not be the ideal setup for the performance of your vehicle. This kit is also vehicle-specific, so you’ll need to check that it works for your car.
These stylish red calipers come as a set of two for your rear wheels. This particular kit is close to a universal fit with several compatible models, including Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Jeep, and Pontiac. It’s best to confirm your vehicle’s compatibility before you commit to purchasing them. Your kit will include two D52 calipers in red powder coating, BP-10 brake pads, and caliper slide bolts with sleeves. While this kit comes in red, these calipers are also available in a black powder coating.
Buying this kit means you have everything you need to install your new calipers and brake pads for both of your rear wheels. The bright red powder coating not only protects the forged billet aluminum construction but also improves the look of your car. The broad compatibility of these calipers means you can use them on most OE wheels.
Unfortunately, the bright red color won’t look good on all vehicles. Their broad compatibility means that they aren’t specifically designed to improve the performance of your vehicle. You’ll also need to spend extra if you don’t like the brake pads that come with the calipers.
This race-inspired brake caliper is the next generation from Afco’s previous calipers. Inspired by 10 years of racing dominance, this caliper has proven its performance capabilities with extensive summer race conditions testing. This caliper comes semi-loaded with the required mounting hardware. They are constructed of forged 6061 aluminum. There are internal brake fluid passages and a hard coat anodizing treatment to the outside. This caliper fits wheels that have these measurements: 1.25-inch rotors, 1 ⅜-inch piston, and 3.5-inch mount centers. If yours are different, Afco has several caliper sizes available to find the right set for your car.
These calipers stand out for their superior performance. They reduce wheel heat, produce less dust, and are the stiffest calipers on the market. You’ll also achieve better wheel clearance. They also come with heavy-duty steel bridge bolts that add a 10 percent increase in stiffness.
While these calipers boast impressive performance stats, most drivers may find that it’s overkill for their daily ride. These calipers are better suited for race cars. These calipers don’t come with a warranty and returning them is a challenge. So if you aren’t happy with your purchase, you may be stuck with them.
The Ford Motor Company recommends Motorcraft calipers for their durability, high quality, and broad Ford vehicle compatibility. This particular caliper is compatible with the 2012-2014 Ford Edge 2.0L and the 2007 Lincoln MKX. You’ll need to confirm that it’s compatible with your vehicle. If it isn’t, Motorcraft manufactures plenty of calipers and is sure to have one that fits your vehicle. This brake caliper is unloaded.
Because Motorcraft has Ford’s official seal of approval, you can be confident that these will be a direct OEM replacement. This makes installation easier. You can also be confident that they’ll work. They come with a comprehensive warranty as well.
Unfortunately, this is a single brake caliper that doesn’t come with a brake pad or the hardware needed for installation. This means you’ll need to buy everything separately. It also does not have powder coating or another protective coating, so they lack in looks and corrosion protection.
This brake caliper is designed to meet or exceed the performance of your OEM caliper. This caliper is for your right rear wheel. It is compatible with the 2006-2007 Audi A6 Quattro Avant, 2005 Audi A6 Quattro, and 2006-2007 Audi A6 Quattro. Check with ATE to confirm if it will fit your vehicle. The company makes several calipers, so if this one doesn’t fit, there are several other options available.
This caliper is manufactured using premium materials. It’s also built with a specific vehicle in mind; this helps to improve the performance of your car. You can improve the performance of your vehicle by replacing your OEM calipers with this aftermarket option.
Unfortunately, this caliper may not fit your vehicle because of its limited compatibility. It also doesn’t come with any accompanying hardware or brake pads, so you’ll need to buy these separately.
This caliper from Speedway Motors is meant for 1978-1988 GM midsize cars, such as the Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, Cutlass, or Regal. It is a direct stock replacement. The entire caliper and included parts are brand new. It is approved by IMCA as a replacement caliper.
Because these calipers are 100 percent new, you won’t have to worry about the potential performance problems of remanufactured or refurbished calipers. Having IMCA approval means you can use these on your track or race car and stay compliant with relevant regulations.
Unfortunately, the brake pads, bushings, and slider mounting bolts are sold separately. You also won’t get any improved performance with these calipers, as they are a direct component replacement. They also have limited compatibility.
- You can extend the lifespan of your brakes by anticipating each stop. Braking well before you reach your stopping point will ensure the brakes aren’t worn down.
- If you have a manual vehicle, you can reduce the amount of stress on the brakes. You can downshift instead of braking hard to slow down the vehicle. You should keep plenty of distance between you and the car in front of you, however.
- Consider swapping out the brake pads and rotors if you are upgrading the calipers. This will ensure the entire system is brand new and functions without issue.
Q: How do brake calipers work?
A: The braking system is made up of a lot of components, so understanding how it all works can be confusing. Each brake disc is made up of calipers, pads, and rotors. Pressing the brake pedal sends brake fluid to the calipers surrounding the pads. This presses the pads against the rotors, causing your vehicle to stop.
Q: How can I tell if the brake calipers are wearing down?
A: The best way to tell if the brake calipers are wearing out is to listen to them. If you hear excessive squealing or rubbing, it may be time to upgrade the calipers. You can also tell by checking the brake pads. If there is uneven pad wear on them, it is a good indication that you need a new pair of calipers.
Q: How long will a pair of calipers last?
A: This can be difficult to gauge and depends on your driving style. The general rule of thumb is to swap out brake calipers every 50,000 miles. However, a lot of racing or heavy braking can cause them to wear down more quickly.
For one of the best-rated and long-lasting brake calipers to slow you down, consider the Callahan Brake Parts Premium Grade OE Semi-Loaded Calipers. Or you can check out the ACDelco Professional Front Side Disc Brake Caliper if you want to save some cash and still improve your vehicle’s stopping power on the road.