A Quick Look at Brake Calipers

If you have been driving for a significant amount of time then you either have already learned or starting to learn about vehicle maintenance and repair. That is not to say, necessarily, that you are ready to do your own work, rather that you know about how often you should take your car to the shop for an oil change or to rotate your tires or to check your brakes.

And, sure, some vehicle maintenance schedules can have a little leeway, but when it comes to your brakes, you really don’t want to skip a checkup.  You see, the braking system in your car is very complex, and that means any problem you have with stopping could be any number of issues. More importantly, if you do not stay on top of one issue, it could easily lead to other more complicated—and more expensive—issues in the near future.

If, for example, you know that your braking issue is not worn brake pads (which wear out about once a year and need replacing) the next place to look might be your Cross Drilled Rotors brake calipers.


If you ask a car expert (or any good mechanic, really), they will typically recommend fixed calipers for most vehicle.  While they are similar to their counterpart—floating calipers, discussed next—they offer slightly better performance.

A fixed caliper does not move, obviously.  Fixed calipers work via two pistons placed on each side of the brake pad.  High performance fixed calipers might have additional pairs of these pistons to improve stopping power at higher speeds.  In some cars you might find as many as 6 pairs (so 12 total) of pistons.


Also called “sliding calipers,” floating calipers move in and out in relation to the rotors on your car.  Most of the time, floating calipers have only one or two pistons and both are located on the inboard side of the brake pad.  Floating calipers work via pistons pushing outward against the pad as you apply the brakes.


If you are keeping a steady maintenance and replacing your brake pads about once a year, you should very rarely need to worry about your calipers. If, however, you need to replace the calipers there is a very good chance that you have worn the brake pads long past their expiration.

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