The brake caliper is a critical part of your disc brake system that helps you slow down your vehicle. And as with other brake parts, it wears down over time.
However, since they play such a critical role in helping you stay safe, you’d want to replace a bad brake caliper before it wears out completely.
This brings us to the question:
“How long do brake calipers last?”
Let’s look at how long brake calipers usually last and what causes their failure.
Later, we’ll cover the symptoms of damaged brake calipers and even highlight the smartest way to keep them in check.
In This Article:
(Click on links to jump to specific sections)
- How Long Do Brake Calipers Last?
- How Much Does Brake Caliper Replacement Cost?
- The Easiest Way To Keep Your Brake Calipers In Perfect Condition
We’ll also cover some basics:
- What Is A Brake Caliper?
- How Brake Calipers Get Damaged
- What Are The Symptoms Of A Defective Brake Caliper?
Let’s get started.
How Long Do Brake Calipers Last?
Disc brake calipers are resilient brake components and are expected to last as long as your vehicle.Your brake calipers realistically last anywhere between 75,000 to 100,000 miles or 10 years.
However, this isn’t an exact estimate for every vehicle.
The lifetime of your brake calipers also depends on:
- How you drive
- Road Conditions
- Environmental conditions such as weather
- And more
But, there has to be a reason why your brake calipers wear out in the first place, right?
Jump to this section to see how brake calipers get damaged.
How Much Does Brake Caliper Replacement Cost?
Replacement brake calipers can either be friction ready or loaded.
Friction ready brake calipers do not have pads readily installed within them. This makes them comparatively less expensive. For passenger vehicles, friction ready brake calipers can cost under $100. And for larger vehicles, it can go up to several hundred dollars.
On the other hand, if you’d like a loaded brake caliper with brake pads readily installed on them, you can expect to pay between $100 and $500 for a caliper replacement.
For an accurate estimate on brake caliper replacement costs, fill out this online form with the year, engine, make, and model of your vehicle.
Now that you know how much it would cost, where can you find a brake repair service to address your caliper needs?
The Easiest Way To Maintain Your Brake Calipers
The best way to take care of your brake calipers and avoid brake fade is to have a mechanic come to your driveway and perform a brake inspection. This way, you won’t need to drive or tow your car to an auto repair shop for a brake service.
And for convenient mobile brake repair services, there’s no better choice than RepairSmith.
RepairSmith is a mobile car repair and maintenance solution that offers these benefits:
- ASE-certified, professional mobile mechanics will perform the brake service in your driveway.
- Repairs are done using high-quality equipment, tools, and replacement brake parts
- Upfront and competitive pricing
- All repairs with a 12,000 mile | 12-month warranty
- Online booking services
- And more
Now, let’s go over some brake caliper basics:
What Is A Brake Caliper?
A brake caliper is the part of your vehicle’s disc brake system that houses the hydraulic pistons and brake pads.
When you hit the brakes, pistons inside the brake caliper squeeze your brake pads against the disc brake rotors to generate friction. And this frictional force slows down your vehicle.
Many vehicles utilize a brake disc or brake rotor in the front and a drum for the rear brake.
In the rear drum brakes, instead of the brake calipers, you’d have pistons within the wheel cylinder. They push the brake shoes against a spinning drum rotating with the wheel.
You’ll commonly come across two types of brake calipers:
- Fixed caliper: pistons are on either side of the caliper housing, and the caliper remains stationary.
- Floating caliper: pistons are on only one side of the caliper housing, and the caliper moves side-to-side.
Whether you’re using a floating caliper or fixed brake caliper, one thing is guaranteed:
A damaged caliper assembly would fail to deliver consistent brake performance and can lead to brake fade.
That’s why having some clue about when your brake calipers might fail helps you stay safe.
How Brake Calipers Get Damaged
When you engage the brakes, friction is generated by the brake calipers on the brake disc through your brake pads. The frictional force then converts the kinetic energy of your moving vehicle into thermal energy or heat.
This naturally raises the temperature of your brake calipers rapidly.
And when you’ve stopped engaging the brakes, the disc brake calipers suddenly cool down.
With repeated heat-up and cool-down cycles, corrosion begins to form inside and outside the brake calipers.
This corrosion creates a rough caliper surface that results in:
- Abrasive wear on the brake piston seal
- Seizing up and sticking of a piston and a brake cylinder chamber
- Uneven braking performance
That’s not all.
The debris deposited on the brake calipers from the environment can also wear them out and adversely affect their functioning.
Now that you know what causes brake caliper failure, let’s look at the red flags that indicate defective brake calipers.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Defective Brake Caliper?
Here are some of the symptoms of a bad brake caliper you need to watch out for:
1. Unusual Noises When Braking
If you hear squealing noises or frictional sounds from any of the wheels while depressing the brake pedal, you could be dealing with damaged brake calipers.
Your vehicle’s brake calipers might be stuck, and the pistons could get jammed within the brake cylinder bores. When this happens, the brakes become somewhat ineffective and cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
These squealing noises could also indicate that a brake pad has worn down to its backing plate.
If this happens, take your car to an auto repair service or have a certified mechanic come over for a brake inspection. They would try and determine whether you’ve got a problem with the caliper assembly, brake piston, brake pad’s friction material, or other brake issues.
After inspection, the mechanic might recommend brake caliper replacement, rotor resurfacing or rotor replacement, brake pad replacement, or some other brake job to eliminate the brake noise.
2. Leaky Brake Fluid
Corroded calipers can quickly wear out the rubber seal of your brake piston. This can often lead to brake fluid leaks.
As the brake fluid levels drop, the amount of brake pressure that can be exerted also plummets. And when the leaks become excessive, your hydraulic brake system could stop functioning entirely.
If you observe that you’ve got leaky brake fluid, request a brake inspection by a professional mechanic.
They’ll examine your brake system to see if you need a caliper piston replacement, a brake fluid flush, master cylinder repairs, or some other brake job.
3. Your Vehicle Veers Off To One Side
Damaged brake calipers can cause the vehicle to pull to one side when braking.
This usually happens when a piston within the defective brake calipers gets stuck to the wheel rotor and can’t move about freely.
As a result, when you push down on the brake pedal, the vehicle swerves towards the side with better grip. When you stop braking, the vehicle veers off to the side with the stuck brake caliper.
In such a case, it’s recommended to have a mechanic check your brake system for brake issues like corroded calipers, stuck-up pistons, worn-out brake pad friction material, or problems with the brake line or brake hose.
4. Brake Pads Wear Out Unevenly
Remember that it’s your brake pads that come in contact with the wheel rotor to slow down your vehicle.
So, if you’ve got a rusty or damaged brake caliper that can’t move about freely, it could end up exerting non-uniform pressure on the brake pads. As a result, the brake pads on either side of the vehicle could start to wear out unevenly.
To be safe, request a brake system diagnosis from a qualified mechanic and get your brake disc system back on track by repairing or replacing the brake calipers, resurfacing rotors, or brake pad replacement.
And when you’re hiring a professional mechanic, just ensure that they:
- Are ASE-certified
- Use high-quality brake service equipment and replacement parts
- And offer you a service warranty
Worn-out Brake Calipers Compromise Road Safety
Brake calipers play a crucial role in generating the necessary friction to slow your vehicle.
And although they’re designed to last long, brake calipers can get corroded and wear out over time.
Fortunately, keeping your brake calipers in perfect condition is easy with RepairSmith.
Book your repair service online, and ASE-certified technicians will arrive at your driveway, ready to perform any brake caliper repairs!