How to Paint Your Brake Calipers

Jack Dreyer | Monday 17th April 2023 5:00pm

A brake caliper painted red.

Over time, your carís brake calipers can become rusty ó what was once silver now looks tarnished and patchy and has turned brown in colour. Painting the brake calipers not only makes the car look smart, but itís thought that doing so could increase the value of your vehicle. Donít let rusty calipers ruin the look of your car ó paint them!

Can I paint my brake calipers?

You can paint your brake calipers whatever colour you like; however, you must be careful not to get any paint on the brake discs. Doing so may impact their ability to bring your car to a stop, which could be dangerous.

In order to avoid splashing paint on other areas, you can either apply tape to cover these parts or remove the brake calipers altogether. Either way works fine, though the latter option should only be attempted if you know what youíre doing.

How to paint calipers

Now weíve determined that you can paint your calipers, hereís a basic method to follow to get the finish you want.

Step 1: Jack the car up

Before you can start cleaning or painting the calipers, youíll need to get the car off the ground. First, loosen the nuts on all four wheels using the wheel nut. Then, jack the front of the car up and remove the two front wheels. Remember to keep the wheel nuts safe as youíll need them later.

Step 2: Clean your brakes

Now that youíve exposed the calipers, you need to make sure that they and the brake discs are clean. If you paint over the dirt and rust already on your calipers, the paint may not stick and the finish wonít be as smooth. You can use a wire brush to remove the worst of the rust and then clean the caliper with a damp cloth. Alternatively, you may wish to use a special brake cleaner and a small brush, such as a toothbrush, to remove the dirt from your brake discs and tyres.

Step 3: Prepare the calipers

This is an important step ó the more time you spend preparing the calipers, the better and neater the finish will be. Firstly, take off the front retainer clip and then cover the bleeder valve using masking tape to protect it. Ensure the valve is completely covered. Overlapping the layers of masking tape may help to prevent paint from leaking into the joins. Then, cover the brake hose fittings with tape too.

Once this is done, take a large plastic sheet or bin bag and use it to completely cover the brake rotor. If youíre using a bin bag, rip it at the seams so it turns into a large square shape. Apply the sheet carefully and precisely so that there are no gaps that could cause paint to leak onto the rotor. You may need to spin the rotor so that it seals the plastic between the brake pads and the rotor. Use some more tape to keep the plastic sheet from moving.

A mechanic painting a brake caliper red.

Step 4: Start painting

Now itís time for the exciting part. Youíll need to get your hands on some brake caliper paint ó usually an aerosol. No matter what colour or paint brand youíve gone for, apply the paint evenly by doing one thin coat at a time. Avoid doing one thick coat as this could only result in a patchy finish with drip marks. Instead, itís better to apply multiple thin coats, waiting around 10 minutes for each one to dry before applying the next.

Leave the paint to dry fully (this could be up to 24 hours depending on the paint youíve used) before removing the plastic sheet. If youíre doing all four wheels, do the front two first and then the rear two on a different day as the paint needs to be completely dry before putting the tyres back on.

Step 5: Take the car off the ramps

Once the paint is dry, put the wheels back in place using the nuts you should have kept in a safe place earlier. Then, lower your car. If youíre doing the rear wheels, these can now be jacked up and the process repeated.

Step 6: Admire the finished look

Now, your calipers should gleam and shine with their brand new paint. To finish off the look, you could clean your alloys and even invest in some new tyres.

How long does caliper paint take to dry?

As mentioned above, the amount of time it takes for caliper paint to dry will depend on the manufacturer.

For instance, Rust-Oleum states that their caliper paint is touch dry in two to four hours but that it may not be fully dry for 24 hours. They recommend waiting at least five to nine hours before reattaching the wheels. However, Foliatec states that you can reattach the wheels after just two hours.

Itís important to wait at least 24 hours before you drive the vehicle. If the paint isnít fully dry, it may not be completely heat resistant. Your carís brakes get very hot and while dried paint can withstand temperatures of up to 300 degrees, wet paint cannot. Foliatec even says that the full hardening of the paint wonít be complete until up to seven days after itís applied.

Always read the label carefully to ensure you donít scratch or dent the paint when itís still tacky and that the car is safe to drive.

What colour should I paint my brake calipers?

The paint options for your calipers are almost endless. You can have blue, red, orange, silver, black, matt black, white, copper, green, pink, yellow, gold, etc. Red is one of the most popular colours, particularly on sports cars, though it works on most types of vehicles. Alternatively, if youíd prefer the brake calipers to blend in with the rest of the car, you could choose black or silver. Silver would make them look like new again.

If you have any questions about painting or modifying your vehicle and its tyres, get in touch with the experts at your nearest Kwik Fit who can help.

Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.

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