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Rebuilding calipers? #4103339 05/22/16 07:07 AM
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dlundblad Offline OP
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Happy Sunday BITOG

Does anyone here rebuild their calipers rather than going out and buying third world rebuilt calipers from parts stores?

On Rock Auto, I have found a few name brand rebuild kits for about $10 each for various vehicles. I'm assuming depending on the degree of wear, the piston(s) may need replaced too.

Aside from waiting on shipping and the convenience of local parts stores having what you need in stock, is it worth rebuilding yourself?


03 Jeep WJ 4.0 202k Edge 10w40 HM Fram XG16
02 Volvo S60 2.4T 186k M1 0w40 Mahle OX149D
97 Chevy Blazer 4.3 158k M1 EP 10w30 Supertech ST3980 (Ecore)

Re: Rebuilding calipers? [Re: dlundblad] #4103343 05/22/16 07:14 AM
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Donald Offline
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You will need a cylinder hone. Its not difficult at all. But rebuilt calipers are also pretty cheap these days. Unlike say a rebuilt alternator from some third world country, there is not a lot to go wrong with a rebuilt caliper.

Unless the piston is perfect with its chrome plating, replace it. Same goes for caliper pins.

Remember to soak bleeder screw with PB Blaster if its stuck and use a 6 pt wrench.

You can paint it while your at it.

Last edited by Donald; 05/22/16 07:15 AM.

2015 Subaru Forester 2.5 engine/CVT
2015 Ford F250 w/Powerstroke
2016 Subaru Crosstrek CVT (wife's)
Re: Rebuilding calipers? [Re: dlundblad] #4103407 05/22/16 08:39 AM
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bigt61 Offline
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If you enjoy doing rebuilds and have the time - go for it. Personally, I prefer to give the 3rd world re-builders some reward for their fine skills. Gives me more time to dent my DVR stack.


92 Suburban 2500 7.4L 58k M1_0w40 5yr OCI
99 Olds Aurora 4.0L 91K M1_5w30 5yr OCI
13 Dodge Dart 2.0L 30k PP 0w20 OLM OCI
70 Camaro 5.7L 59k
Re: Rebuilding calipers? [Re: dlundblad] #4103415 05/22/16 08:50 AM
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andyd Offline
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I have rebuilt the ATE calipers on my BMW.

First, I make sure the bleeder is free. If I can't loosen the bleeder , I use the caliper for a core. Then, I loosen the brake hose just a bit

I demount the calipers, but leave the hoses attached

I carefully pump the pedal to ease the pistons outward to where I can pull them out.


I undo the hoses and hang the ends up high to keep them from dripping fluid. I head for the bench. I wire wheel the pistons and around the top of the caliper where the dust seal rides

Hone the bore if you must. I don't. The piston seal is at the top of the bore. As long as the seal is in good shape and the piston is smooth, The bore itself doesn't enter into it. I do wipe out the crud and make sure threads are good on the coupling.

To assemble, I use 3 things: A 6" C clamp, Syl- Glide to lube the dust seal. A small hammer to tap the side of the caliper to keep the piston aligned. I grease up the piston and seal.Then I start the piston in by hand. The hammer is more useful than the C clamp. If the piston is kept straight going in, The clamp isn't needed. If you resort to a C clamp, go easy, use side wise taps with the hammer on the caliper to keep the piston straight. Less is more. The straighter the piston is , the easier it goes in.

I used to use a rebuild kit. 2 pieces of rubber. When I took the old seals off, I noticed that they were in perfect shape. Then I had a rear caliper seize. I bought a set of pads and a qt of brake fluid. I have used the Tube of Syl-Glide for ages. It is good for spark plug boots too.

As I said, this was on an old ATE single piston caliper, I 'got the idea from my BIL, who used a spritz of WD 40 and brushed the worst of the rust away. This was on a GM caliper. They are all pretty much the same. grin2


'16 Camry LE STP synth 0w20 and STP filter. the Fridge

1994 Ranger ,the Rat, 5w30 dino, STP filter

'16 Camry SE, Valvoline HM 0w20 and OEM filter
Thick oil is better grin2
Re: Rebuilding calipers? [Re: dlundblad] #4103419 05/22/16 08:56 AM
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Trav Offline
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I did them for years when calipers were very expensive and reman were few and far between.
When I first started in this business disc brakes were not common, they were for the most part an option on some cars, drums all round were what we saw daily.

The rubber materials back then were not the best and rebuilding the calipers and wheel cylinders was almost mandatory for a good job.
Today there are very few calipers I would consider rebuilding, it would have to be an expensive or rare one to make it worth the time.


ASE L1, Master. Deutsch Meisterbrief.
Re: Rebuilding calipers? [Re: dlundblad] #4103457 05/22/16 09:46 AM
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Ducked Offline
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I did one for the first time fairly recently. Conventional wisdom was it was scrap, especially without using a rebuild kit, but I seem to have got lucky.

http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/4043461/1

Internyet guides/videos mostly tell you to blow the piston out with compressed air. Ignore them. The brake pedal is designed for the job.

Last edited by Ducked; 05/22/16 09:50 AM.
Re: Rebuilding calipers? [Re: dlundblad] #4103499 05/22/16 10:50 AM
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fdcg27 Offline
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I've done this in the distant past, when rebuilt calipers were rare and expensive, as Trav has said.
Calipers seem to be much less troublesome these days than was the case forty years ago.
I don't think that I've had to rebuild or replace one since the days of our old '76 Civic.


18 Accord Hybrid 10K HGMO 0W-20
17 Forester 24K VME 0W-20
12 Accord LX 115K SSO 0W-20
09 Forester 95K M1HM 10W-30
01 Focus ZX3 118K PP 5W-20
96 Accord LX 104K T5 10W-30
95 318i
Re: Rebuilding calipers? [Re: Donald] #4104504 05/23/16 04:10 PM
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dailydriver Offline
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Originally Posted By: Donald
Remember to soak bleeder screw with PB Blaster if its stuck and use a 6 pt wrench.


Even soaking my PBR calipers' bleeder screws in KROIL did not get them loose. eek mad


2016 Ford Fiesta ST 17K miles
Ravenol REP 5W-30
Fram XG3600 filter
Ravenol MTF-2 in the IB6 transaxle
Re: Rebuilding calipers? [Re: dlundblad] #4104561 05/23/16 05:26 PM
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Gokhan Offline
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I did rebuild mine. Make sure to install the boot and snap ring correctly. Use the other caliper as an example on how to install the boot and snap ring.

Normally there should be no need to hone the cylinder or replace the piston. Clean them and then lubricate them with brake fluid along with the new rubber parts. Clean and use brake grease on the pivots and reinstall the pivot boots correctly.


1985 Toyota Corolla LE, 4A-LC engine, ~ 276,000 M
Mobil 1 Extended Performance 0W-20 SN PLUS (PAO-and-AN-based)
Fram Ultra XG3600 filter (full synthetic), 90430-12031 drain gasket (rubber on aluminum)
Re: Rebuilding calipers? [Re: dlundblad] #4104641 05/23/16 07:13 PM
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clinebarger Offline
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Many years ago, Sure...Its not hard at all, If your Calipers have Phenolic Pistons....You need new pistons that makes rebuilding them not worth it. Any of you guys remember the late '80s early '90s Fords with Plastic pistons?, Man they were bad about hanging up, Must have rebuilt 100's of Ford Calipers with new steel pistons.


2001 Chevy Camaro L92/4L80E
2006 Chevy 2500HD LBZ/Allison 1000
2010 Toyota Corolla 2ZR-FE/U341E
2000 Toyota Avalon 1MZ-FE/A541E
Re: Rebuilding calipers? [Re: clinebarger] #4104679 05/23/16 08:08 PM
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Trav Offline
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Phenolic pistons were used much later than that,my 99 Expedition had them, I just replaced them with rebuilt calipers with steel pistons for $39 ea. You cant buy the kit and pistons for that.
Most rebuilds are okay, they are so easy to do that a trained monkey can do them. When it comes to calipers that use a parking brake mechanism I start getting choosy of which brand to use.


ASE L1, Master. Deutsch Meisterbrief.
Re: Rebuilding calipers? [Re: Trav] #4104748 05/23/16 09:30 PM
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clinebarger Offline
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Originally Posted By: Trav
Phenolic pistons were used much later than that,my 99 Expedition had them, I just replaced them with rebuilt calipers with steel pistons for $39 ea. You cant buy the kit and pistons for that.
Most rebuilds are okay, they are so easy to do that a trained monkey can do them. When it comes to calipers that use a parking brake mechanism I start getting choosy of which brand to use.


I know that, Just the early one's were worse about failures.


2001 Chevy Camaro L92/4L80E
2006 Chevy 2500HD LBZ/Allison 1000
2010 Toyota Corolla 2ZR-FE/U341E
2000 Toyota Avalon 1MZ-FE/A541E
Re: Rebuilding calipers? [Re: dlundblad] #4105766 05/24/16 09:54 PM
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NibbanaBanana Offline
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Seems like I've had calipers freeze up, replaced them with rebuilds, and they freeze up again in a year or so. I don't know if I'm getting unlucky or buying the cheap ones or what.

Last one I had freeze up, i pulled it apart, wire brushed all the rust and corrosion off the piston and bore and put it back together to see how long it would last. That was almost two years ago now. And I didn't even change the seals.


1993 Ford E350 5.8L, 68K
2002 Ford E150 4.2L, 85K
2006 Chevy Aveo 1.6L 215K
2013 Kia Reo 1.4L, 101K
7500 OCI, M1 5-30 winter, M1 10-30 summer
Re: Rebuilding calipers? [Re: NibbanaBanana] #4105879 05/25/16 02:13 AM
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Robenstein Offline
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Originally Posted By: NibbanaBanana
Seems like I've had calipers freeze up, replaced them with rebuilds, and they freeze up again in a year or so. I don't know if I'm getting unlucky or buying the cheap ones or what.

Last one I had freeze up, i pulled it apart, wire brushed all the rust and corrosion off the piston and bore and put it back together to see how long it would last. That was almost two years ago now. And I didn't even change the seals.


Did you change out all your brake fluid? Sounds like you might have moisture contamination in your brake fluid causing corrosion.


2011 Triumph Speedmaster
1986 Chevy Monte Carlo SS
1970 Chevy Nova
2006 Scion TC
Re: Rebuilding calipers? [Re: clinebarger] #4105930 05/25/16 06:28 AM
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Trav Offline
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Originally Posted By: clinebarger
Originally Posted By: Trav
Phenolic pistons were used much later than that,my 99 Expedition had them, I just replaced them with rebuilt calipers with steel pistons for $39 ea. You cant buy the kit and pistons for that.
Most rebuilds are okay, they are so easy to do that a trained monkey can do them. When it comes to calipers that use a parking brake mechanism I start getting choosy of which brand to use.


I know that, Just the early one's were worse about failures.


Your right about that, the old ones were worse. Some of the worst calipers I can remember were the old Corvette aluminum ones, they would corrode so bad they would seize in no time.
When they were stainless sleeved during rebuild they were fine, just one case of the rebuilds being better than OE.


ASE L1, Master. Deutsch Meisterbrief.
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