What Is a Brake Caliper?
The brake caliper is a vital component of your vehicle’s braking system. By working with all the other major parts, it can help bring your Jaguar safely to a stop when driving around Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, or South Valley.
Below, we’ll tell you what exactly a brake caliper is and how to determine when it needs to be replaced. Read through our detailed guide. Then, contact us at Jaguar Albuquerque to book a service appointment.
What Does a Brake Caliper Do?
The three major parts of a braking system are the:
- Brake rotors
- Brake pads
- Brake calipers
The caliper fits on top of the rotor like a clamp. Inside each caliper is a pair of metal plates called brake pads that are bonded with friction material. There are two kinds of pads: the outboard ones on the outside of the rotor toward the curb and the inboard ones on the inside toward the automobile.
As you step on the brake, fluid from a master cylinder creates hydraulic pressure on one or more pistons inside the caliper. Then, it forces the pads against the rotors, slowing it down. Once the rotor stops moving, the wheel will, too, since they’re attached to each other.
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Types of Brake Calipers
There are actually several different types of calipers, depending on the type of vehicle you have:
- Motorcycle brake calipers: These are smaller and lighter than the ones on a car. This is to avoid weighing down the bike and getting in the way of the rider.
- Truck brake calipers: Designed specifically for trucks that need more stopping power than a car. They contain a greater clamping force to slow down or stop a truck faster.
- Performance brake calipers: They’re built bigger and stronger to stop this type of vehicle from high speeds. Plus, the car could contain differential-bore calipers, which use smaller pistons up front and larger pistons toward the back.
While these calipers may look slightly different, they all perform the same function: provide the braking power you need to bring your vehicle to a stop safely.
How Often Do You Need to Replace Brake Calipers?
Brake calipers usually don’t have to be replaced until after 75,000 miles or 7-10 years (whichever comes first). However, you’ll want to check your owner’s manual for the correct timeframe.
When the calipers get replaced, they should be done in pairs, especially in high-mileage vehicles. If one caliper is stronger than the other, the vehicle may pull to one side when braking.
However, you may need to replace just one caliper for a specific issue, such as rust or a leak.
If that’s the case, the new one should have the same type of piston as the one on the opposite side, such as steel or phenolic. It should also have the same type of friction material, such as organic or semi-metallic. Otherwise, this may result in uneven braking, which could lead to more serious issues.
What Are the Symptoms of a Bad Brake Caliper?
There are several possible warning signs that could lead to you needing new brake calipers sooner rather than later. These include the following:
- Unusual Noises
You may hear a high-pitched squeak or a sudden thud from the wheels when applying the brakes. However, you may also hear a metallic rubbing noise when the brakes aren’t being used.
If you hear this noise, then the caliper is likely loose, binding, or sticking. Regardless, it won’t stop your car properly and could lead to early brake wear. It could even cause the brakes to lock up and the wheel to not turn at all, which could be very dangerous when out on the road.
- Vehicle Pulling to One Side
Brake calipers are exposed to a great deal of heat from braking. This heat can lead to a piston seizing. It won’t automatically retract like it’s supposed to, which can cause a constant drag on a particular wheel. That side will then be traveling slower, which results in the car pulling to the left or right.
- Brake Fluid Leak
As we mentioned before, the calipers use brake fluid pressure from the master cylinder to do its job. A rubber seal and boot are what keep the brake fluid from coming out. Over time, the constant exposure to heat will wear the seals out and cause a leak.
- Uneven Brake Pad Wear
Over time, the brake pads may start to wear thinner on one side of the car than the other. If this happens, it’s likely from a bad brake caliper. You’ll want to take your Jaguar or other model to a service technician to have the issued addressed. They can then repair or replace the caliper or pads as needed.
Schedule Brake Repair Today
As you can see, having properly working brake calipers is essential to safe travels around town. Therefore, if your Jaguar is experiencing any of the above symptoms, the calipers will need to be replaced right away.
Schedule service at Jaguar Albuquerque to get your vehicle in tip-top shape. You’ll then be driving around Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, and South Valley in a dependable automobile again in no time.