Types Of Brake Calipers


Brake calipers are an inevitable part of an automobile braking system. However, it is essential to know that they are only present in disc brake mechanisms. Circulating motor rotors rotate the car wheels. The calipers clamp over these rotors. When you press the brake paddle, they squeeze the brake pads against the rotors slowing down the vehicle.

Calipers have three different types. Knowing about caliper types is crucial because the brake caliper replacement cost for each kind varies. The explanation below will help you understand which caliper your automobile uses and estimate its replacement costs.

Floating Calipers

The simplest type of brake calipers is floating calipers. They have a piston on only one side of the rotor, which motions on bushings like a clamp.

When the brakes engage, floating calipers move the brake pads on the inner side of the rotor. Later, it slides to the outer side of the rotor and applies force there. In this way, the caliper moves from the inner to external boards of the rotor, slowing its movement.

Fixed Calipers

Fixed calipers consist of 2,4,6, or 8 pistons and have a fixed placement above the rotor. The pistons distribute equally over the rotor to stabilize it.

When the brakes hit, the brake fluid exerts pressure on the caliper, pushing out its pistons. The pistons, in turn, exert force and connect the brake pads to the rotor, limiting the wheel’s motion.

Sliding Calipers

These calipers operate on the same working principle as the floating calipers. The caliper first exerts a force on the inner side of the rotor and then moves to the outer frame.

Types Of Calipers Based on the Number of Pistons

The next aspect for classifying brake calipers is the number of pistons.

Single-Piston Brake Calipers

Single-piston brake calipers are the most common. They only work suitably in floating calipers as they provide primary-level braking. Single-piston calipers are primarily used in low-speed vehicles where intense braking is not vital.

Multi Piston Calipers

As the name specifies, these calipers use multiple pistons for implementing the braking mechanism. Multi-piston calipers are available in floating and fixed orientations.

The more the number of pistons, the better the performance. However, the pistons are selected based on the car model and the strength of the brake required. Usually, vehicles have two pistons; however, in higher-speed automobiles, there can be up to 10 pistons.


Replacement Costs of Different Types of Calipers

Replacement costs vary from caliper to caliper. Naturally, calipers with single pistons (floating and sliding) are less expensive to replace. Comparatively, calipers with higher pistons need more upfront (product and installation costs).

Moreover, deciding whether you want to repair your caliper or replace it entirely is also essential. However, the intensity of damage determines the final answer. In case of impacts, the calipers may be unrepairable, requiring a replacement. However, repairing is more suitable for common issues like grime and rust.

Final Verdict

Brake calipers are crucial components of the disc braking system, and their deterioration compromises the vehicle’s safety. They are available in three different kinds based on their function. However, they are also classifiable based on the number of pistons.

Floating calipers are the most common type but are inadequate for intense braking. In comparison, fixed calipers offer the necessary strength. The number of pistons indicates the braking intensity of the caliper. Usually, vehicles have 2, 4, or 6-piston calipers; however, for high-speed cars, more pistons are paired with solid tires.


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