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A brake caliper is a U-shaped clamping mechanism that fits over the top of a brake rotor. When the pedal is pressed, brake fluid is pulled from the brake master cylinder’s storage vessel and is subsequently delivered to the brake caliper through a secondary component called a slave cylinder. This action extends a series of hydraulic pistons within the caliper housing that drive both inner and outbound brake pads simultaneously. The piston stroke process applies friction to the brake rotor surface and slows the rotor’s speed.Calipers are the central control point between pushing the brake pedal down and the brake system activating, thereby slowing or stopping the vehicle. Without calipers, no disc brake system works properly or safely.Within the brake caliper housing several subordinate elements exist including caliper pistons and inner and outboard brake pads. These sub-components act on the basis of hydraulic principles and ultimately create necessary friction on the brake rotor to slow or stop a car entirely.
There are two types of calipers used in performance applications. The first is a "fixed caliper" configuration where the caliper houses pistons that trigger pad contact from both sides of the rotor surface simultaneously. The second is a "floating caliper" system where a single-set of pistons push a single set of pads against the rotating surface while a fixed set of pads support the process from the other side, thereby forming a vise-like construct.
Most consumer cars operate on a fixed caliper system. Most performance vehicles operate on a floating caliper configuration. The floating caliper produces maximum frictional power on demand.
Like any other component, brake calipers fail over time. The goal is to catch problems early so larger problems don't occur. A periodic visual inspection is enough to detect leaks, cracks, or abnormalities in calipers.
To fix calipers, a fully-equipped shop is typically required. It is best to have an experienced mechanic deal with maintenance.
In the event of a caliper failure a couple of things can happen. If only one caliper fails while the other three operate properly, the overall braking system tends to pull against the failed brake caliper, since the car will lose brake efficiency because it is no longer producing equal braking.
However, in the unlikely event that all four calipers fail simultaneously, no frictional pressure will be applied at all, and the car will fail to activate the brakes, leading to a very bad situation indeed.
Sometimes. However, more times than not, you are likely to see other more obvious problem indicators such as broken lines or fluid leakage. We encourage customers to collaborate with expert brake providers like Buybrakes.com. Unless you are an experienced mechanic, it is best to ensure that all questions are resolved prior to choosing one or more components relating to a performance brake system. This will ensure that you produce the most effective decision possible, while making sure that your final product purchase is suitable to your needs.