A car’s braking system is a complicated thing, involving various parts. Most drivers understand the role of the brake pads, discs, and cables. But what about the brake calipers? What do they do? Why are they important? And how do you know if they’re working properly?

Important Things You Need to Know About Brake Calipers

What is a brake caliper?

Brake calipers are one of the three most important components of a car’s braking system. Alongside the brake pads, and the brake discs. Their job is to press the brake pads against the brake discs when the driver steps on the brake pedal of their car. Helping the vehicle to slow and/or stop.

There are two different kinds of brake caliper used in contemporary vehicles. Fixed brake calipers are mounted on a section of the brake disc, with pistons extending to the brake pedal. These help to ensure that equal pressure is applied to both sides of the disc when required. Floating brake calipers employ a piston to apply pressure to the inner brake pad, and a sliding assembly to apply pressure to the outer brake pad. It’s important to know which system your vehicle employs before performing any maintenance.  

Why do you need brake calipers?

Without brake calipers your vehicle would struggle to stop. They’re integral to the smooth application of pressure necessary to help your brakes work at speed, regardless of the surface you’re travelling upon.   

How do you know if your brake callipers are working effectively?

For the most part, brake calipers require very little maintenance. They are simple in design and rarely go wrong in average driving conditions. And if they do go wrong, it’s usually because you’ve been ignoring the warning signs and driving on worn out brake pads for too long. But, just occasionally, brake calipers will need replacing. When that happens, these are the tell-tale signs to look out for:

·         Your brake light is illuminated. Obviously, this won’t always relate to your calipers, but if your car tells you there’s a problem, it’s never a good idea to ignore it.

·         You can smell burning. If there is a burning smell or smoke coming from the region of your wheels, it probably means that your brake caliper is stuck and needs attention.

·         Your car judders when you brake. If you experience a slight juddering sensation when you apply your brake, it may mean that your brake clipper is failing to properly release.

·         Your vehicle seems to pull more to one side when you brake. If your calipers aren’t working properly you will notice a pull on the functioning side when you brake.

How often do you need to replace brake calipers?

On average, in a well-maintained car that doesn’t need to cope with extreme driving or conditions, your brake calipers should last around 75,000 to 100,000 miles. Or 10 years, whichever comes first.

Is it easy to replace brake calipers?

If you know what you’re doing, replacing your brake calipers is a fairly easy job that can be accomplished in a few hours. And there are plenty of YouTube tutorials available to guide you through. But because calipers play such an integral part of road safety, if you are in any doubt, it can be a good idea to source your calipers online before contacting a mechanic to carry out the work.

Because brake calipers are such sturdy, hardworking pieces of kit, they’re easy to overlook when you start experiencing car troubles. But they are essential to the safe performance of your vehicle. So, if you think that your calipers might need attention, it’s important to take action as soon as you can.

If you’re looking for high quality, affordable brake calipers, or other UK car parts, get in touch with Online Automotive today.