Making a car beautiful is a kind of art. It’s so easy to overdo that many car owners make their vehicles look disgusting with all those custom tuning parts. But if you want to start making your vehicle look pretty, the most certain way to start is to paint the brake calipers. You will need to choose the color carefully to make it look good in combination with your wheels and car body paint. But in most cases, this change will contribute to a better design of your car.
Today, we’ll discuss whether you can use engine paint on your brake calipers and will advise on how to paint the calipers without spending too much money. Also, we’ll explain why all those cheaper methods don’t work and will only bring frustration.
Here are the topics that we discuss in our today’s article:
- Why is choosing paint for brake calipers so important?
- Can you apply other paint but not the expensive special caliper paint?
- What about engine paint for brake calipers?
- How can you save money on painting your calipers?
- How to maintain those painted calipers and keep them looking good?
Let’s get started!
Why can’t you apply just a simple paint on calipers?
Brake calipers get hot when you drive your car. And this is the main problem that should stop you from considering just a simple and cheap paint. If you use that product for your brake calipers, you will find the paint peeling off sooner or later. This will make them look uglier than before because when the paint chips off, everyone will see it. It’s even better to have those original calipers with the “rusty-metal” color than the ones with chipping off paint.
Here are the main negative impacts that the paint will have to deal with on brake calipers:
- Extreme heat. An average car won’t see the temperatures on brake calipers reaching more than 390 degrees Fahrenheit or around 200 degrees Celsius. But if you decide to drive actively or if you drive on high-speed motorways with stops from time to time the temperature may be three times higher than that.
- Rust issues. The brake calipers are made of steel and the steel tends to rust. Once it comes in contact with water which is a normal thing down there on your wheels, it will start rusting and the paint won’t save it at all.
- Mud and dust. You don’t only drive your car in good weather. Sometimes the vehicle gets into dirty puddles and the caliper gets covered in mud. Then the mud dries and influences the steel much. Of course, a simple paint will chip off as soon as possible.
- Stones and sand. Brake calipers are sanded sometimes and are impacted by stones when you drive on rough terrain or when you are off-roading. A stone can easily peel off some paint.
After considering all of these factors, you may understand that any simple paint is not appropriate for painting the brake calipers. If you do that, the paint will chip off on the third day after you start driving. And that’s why a lot of people ask whether they can use engine paint to color their brake calipers and to style their vehicles. You will probably need more investigation before deciding on what kind of paint you should buy in a shop.
Engine paint – is it that good for brake calipers?
If you were attentive when you were reading the article above, you might have noticed that the temperature is the main enemy of the paint on brake calipers. Then you should have remembered that sometimes people paint their engine blocks and that paint stays on for a very long time. So why not use some engine paint to color your calipers?
The answer is quite simple – you can try. But still, some concerns should be noted before. The engine paint is usually the enamel paint that is prepared to withstand all kinds of temperatures. It covers the metal parts of the engine block and stays on until it’s damaged mechanically. Also, engine paint is manufactured to withstand oil and gasoline impact. The engine block is attacked by those regularly. So, we can presume that this paint will be much durable on brake calipers.
Though, please note a couple of important remarks:
- the engine paint should be of high quality;
- you should check the temperature range it can withstand;
- be sure to check only the well-known brands;
- check the paint on an old metal part and then heat it up a bit;
- check if the manufacturer has some info on using the paint on brake calipers.
We know some manufacturers that have enamel-ceramic engine paint. This option should be better than others because it creates kind of a ceramic layer to protect the paint from any scratches and from peeling off.
But still, don’t expect that the engine paint will survive on your brake calipers for more than two years. The reason is simple – manufacturers haven’t even tried to test this paint in such conditions. This means no one knows if the paint will be OK when it is covered with mud, sand, water, and road debris.
What alternatives can I get?
Well, the most appropriate alternative is the paint for brake calipers. You can buy it in any car paint shop in a spray or just in a can. This paint is tested thoroughly on calipers, so it won’t chip off too fast. But it has one problem – it’s super expensive. Producers tend to offer such products at huge prices because this paint is a pure tuning product, not an essential car accessory.
And yes, if you have a Lamborghini or a Porsche, we would recommend you to grab one of those products in a local shop or online because this will be the best choice. Your calipers are super important for the design of the car, and you aren’t likely to be the person who wants to save up some money and find a better deal.
But if you have a less expensive car, you may want to go for these options:
- Engine paint. We have discussed it before. It’s quite good for the calipers but it will probably look good for a year or two only.
- High-temperature paint. This is a cheaper option, but you have to pay attention to the temperature range. A lot of manufacturers will write in instruction “no more than 150 degrees Celsius” for example. Avoid such products for your calipers.
- Other ceramic-based paint that can withstand high temperatures. Investigate the market and find some cheap and good options for painting your calipers.
Well, choosing good paint is not the final step. You will need to apply it correctly in order to make your calipers look good for years to go. And this topic apparently deserves a separate article, but we’ll try and make a quick review of how to paint the calipers.
Quick steps of painting your brake calipers
- Prepare the paint and all other materials you may need in the process. Find some solution to clean your calipers thoroughly.
- You can take the brakes apart and get the caliper bodies out – this will make your painting job easier. But you can try to paint them right on the spot. In this case, cover all other parts so that the paint doesn’t get to the rotor and other units.
- Clean the caliper carefully, get rid of all rust and dirt. Otherwise, your paint will chip off quickly.
- Start covering the caliper with paint. You will need a lot of thin layers rather than a few thick layers of paint. So be careful when spraying the paint – don’t make any thick spots.
- After each layer, you have to wait for 10 to 20 minutes before you put another layer.
- After you are done with painting, use any kind of protective coatings to cover the caliper. This will help you avoid any damages to the paint.
- Let the caliper dry in a warm and dry place. If you start driving right away, a lot of dust will stick to the paint and it can be damaged by water, too.
- The next day, check whether the paint needs some adjustment. If everything is OK, just start driving your car.
Verdict and final thoughts
One of the most expensive things in painting your brake calipers is labor. So if you are ready to do everything by yourself, you may experiment with paint types. Avoid simple and cheap high-temperature paint because it won’t stay long on the caliper. Better use engine paint which is much cheaper than the caliper paint, but actually does great on brake parts. Also, think about some additional coating like ceramic high-temp paint or something else to protect your caliper from chipping off and that sort of thing.
But if you have never painted anything by yourself, better train on some rusty piece of metal first. Otherwise, you are risking your calipers that may cost quite a lot.