Brake Repair

6 Steps to Brake Caliper Repair


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You notice you’re losing brake fluid and you notice wet spots around the front wheels of your car, so you’ve decided to undertake a brake caliper repair so you can save some money. But you’re not sure how. This guide will walk you through the process of rebuilding your front disc brake calipers.

Tools and Equipment Needed:

  • A good floor jack
  • A set of jack stands
  • Something to block the rear wheels with
  • A set of wrenches or socket set
  • Lug wrench
  • A full bottle of the proper DOT specification brake fluid (See your owner’s manual)
  • A source of high pressure air with a tire inflation chuck on it
  • One unused tire valve stem
  • A Scotchbrite pad
  • A can of brake parts cleaner
  • A sponge or piece of foam
  • Some shop rags
  • Two blunt clamps
  • Brake assembly lube

Use the following steps to complete your repair. Begin by jacking up the vehicle and removing the front wheels.

Step 1: Remove the Calipers

Turn the steering wheel all the way one direction and use the proper size wrench or socket (usually ½ inch, 9/16 inch or 5/8 inch) to loosen the two bolts holding the caliper on the side opposite your turn. Using the proper size wrench, loosen the brake line to the caliper. Clamp off the fluid line. Remove the caliper bolts and the hose.

Step 2: Remove Caliper Piston

Remove the outer brake shoe. Place the sponge or foam between the outer portion of the caliper and the inner pad. Place a rag over the caliper and cover completely. Insert the valve stem into the air chuck and place the rubber portion of the stem securely against the fluid inlet. Hold tight, and cover your eyes with safety glasses or goggles.

With one hand securely against the top of the caliper, press the valve on the air chuck allowing air to flow through the valve stem into the caliper. The piston will pop out. Check the piston for pitting or rust. Replace if it's pitted. Remove the seal. Clean the piston with a Scotchbrite pad and brake cleaner. Thoroughly clean the inside of the caliper bore. Rinse thoroughly with cleaner.

Step 4: Reassemble Caliper and Attach

Lube the seal and piston with assembly lube and insert the piston into the bore completely. Re-attach the brake hose. Liberally apply special brake glue to the metal backing plate of the new pads, and place the pads into the caliper. Slide the caliper over the rotor and secure it using caliper bolts. Tighten the brake hose.

Step 5: Repeat

Follow the steps above to repair the caliper on the opposite wheel.

Step 6: Bleed Air from System

Remove the cover from the master cylinder and fill to line. Replace the cover. Have a helper pump the brake pedal 5 times and hold. Don't let up until the bleeder screw is secured. On the passenger side, loosen the bleeder screw (above fluid line) and allow air to escape. Repeat until no air bubbles escape. Repeat on other side.

Replace the wheels, lower the vehicle and torque the lug nuts to specifications.

Brake caliper repair is a fairly straightforward task, as long as you have the proper knowledge, tools and equipment. If you carefully follow the steps in this guide, you will be able to accomplish this repair in about 90 minutes, with the assistance of a helper.

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