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Here is a cheap how-to modification for painting your brake calipers that makes all the difference in the little appearances that set your vehicle above the rest and won’t chip and flake off on you.
What you will need:
– Caliper paint (colour of your choice- I prefer spray can vs paint can versions)
– Black caliper paint (for your rotors – not needed, but makes a big difference)
– Clear coat caliper paint (for protection of your paint and to add shine)
– Rubbing alcohol / brake cleaner as well as a cloth to apply it
– Soap and water
– Wire wheel
– Painters tape
– Jack stands
– Wheel Chocks (if only doing 2 wheels at a time)
– Breaker bar plus sockets to get your rims off
– N95 mask to protect you from brake dust
– safety glasses
– 6 pack of beer (or drink of your choice) and some good tunes on the radio!
Ok, once you have the above listed items gathered and ready to go you’re good to get started. I did this with the calipers on the vehicle, if you wish to paint them off the vehicle, you can still follow the below guide. Make sure if you fully remove your calipers from the vehicle, you note that you’ll have to bleed your brakes (this is why I painted mine on the car) Make sure you pick a nice sunny day if you’ll be doing this outside- you don’t want to do this in the rain as you want the paint to have time to dry…plus it is never fun to do this while getting wet!
Step 1) Crack the nuts loose on your vehicles tires that need to come off. For the purposes of this guide, I am going to assume that you know how to take your tires off and jack the car up. So do so and Jack the car up. When it is in the air and on jack stands, finish undoing the bolts and remove the tires setting them off safely to the side. Make sure that if you are only doing 2 wheels that you wheel-chock the tires that are remaining on the floor to properly secure the vehicle to prevent it from rolling off and injuring you. Please make sure before getting under the vehicle at any time that you have secured your vehicle properly. Here is what my brakes looked like before I started
Step 2) Remove your calipers from the spindle (you don’t have to unhook them from the brake lines), but remove them so that you can remove your rotors and then bolt the caliper back on so that you don’t accidently damage a brake line by letting them hang; plus now you’ll have something holding the caliper up. I would take this time as well to remove the brake pads from the caliper and keep them out of the way in a safe spot. Write down which way you take the pads out, as most cars have a pad that is dedicated to the front of the caliper and one that is for the rear of the caliper and sometimes these can go back in upside down.
Step 3) Get out your N95 mask and safety glasses and put them on (seriously, brake dust has asbestos in it). Take your wire wheel and drill and run the wire wheel across your caliper touching all of the outside surfaces of it. Careful, it gets pretty dusty here, but the end result is definitely worth it! Be careful not to run your wire wheel across the seal of the inner caliper piston, you don’t want to damage the seal with the sharp wire. Here is a shot of what the caliper will look like after you are done running your wire wheel on it- note that the rotor is back on the car in this picture as I mounted it back up to see what it looked like. You want to run the wire wheel to clean up every area that you are wanting to paint.
Step 4) Take some time to clean up the caliper you’ll be painting. Soap and water will do a pretty good job. Dry that off and take the rubbing alcohol (or brake cleaner; or both) I mentioned earlier and do a secondary cleaning of the caliper with the alcohol / brake cleaner just to make sure there is no residue or grease left on it. This is important prep work in order to insure that we do not get flaking or chipping paint on the calipers down the road. Take your time here or you’ll end up needing to repaint these in about a year or so.
Step 5) Begin taping your newspaper up and taping off everything that you don’t want to paint. You are using a spray can for the caliper paint here, so if you don’t cover things like your springs, spindle, shocks, etc, all of that is going to get overspray and look terrible. Make sure you also take this time to tape the sliders, piston and seal on the inside of the caliper. I don’t like painting the moving parts for fear it may help seize the caliper up later. I used a shopping bag over my wheel bearing and a large towel to cover everything I didn’t want painted.
Step 6) Now that you have everything covered off that you don’t want painted, you can begin painting the caliper. Use smooth sweeping strokes to get an even coat of paint on the caliper. I painted both my caliper and slider bracket (bracket that holds my brake pads in it). Do light coats on the caliper and allow approximately 5 minutes or so between coats for the paint to dry. I always target the hard to get spots on the caliper first -the back, crevices and all the nooks and crannies. Like always, I usually listen to 1.5 songs on the radio and spray again. This is what my calipers started to look like after 2-3 coats.
Step 7) I put approximately 10 coats on my calipers. Paint yours until you are happy with the colour being shown, and then add 2-3 more coats on top of that just to give it it’s thickness. Once you have finished adding your coats of paint, you will spray on 2 additional coats of clear coat the exact same way you put the paint on. The time interval between spraying the paint and spraying on the clear coat will be the same as it was for the paint. Here is a shot of the caliper on the other side of my car after I had added the clear coat to it.
Looking good so far, but you’re not quite done yet. The rotors always have a rusty hub, and everyone always forgets to get rid of that unsightly look and in my opinion it takes away from the overall finishing touches of your paint job. Due to the heaviness of the pictures, I had to split this guide into two pages- so continue on here to step 8
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