Take a look at some of the sportier cars on the road, and you will see some colorful brake calipers behind their spoke wheels. For those of you lusting for the performance look of those brake calipers, an inexpensive solution is available. Paint them yourself!
Several paint manufacturers make brake caliper paint. The most popular has a spray application that requires that you remove the caliper from its mount, remove the brake pads and mask off the surrounding area in order to apply the paint. I did that once to a friend’s car, but it took a lot of work and caused overspray to get on the wheel liners. My bad.
Last summer I found a great solution to the spray paint–a brush-on application from POR15. In the article Crossfire Personality Change, I painted the wheels and brake calipers on a family member’s Chrysler Crossfire. Due to the results of that project, I decided to use the same product (different color) on my MINI.
Update (7/31/23): I just applied this same technique to a new Camaro. If you would like to see the results of that one, go HERE.
The detailed process is shown below and in a video found HERE.
Step by Step
If you can handle a small paint brush and have a little patience, this job will be easy for you. The hardest part will be getting your vehicle on jack stands and removing the wheels. Once you do that, you should be able to follow the steps shown in these pictures:
Cleaning the brake caliper is really easy. Brake parts cleaners are actually acetone in an aerosol form. Spray the brake caliper LIBERALLY with the cleaner, and use paper towel to wipe away any remaining grime or residue.
At this point, you are ready to paint! In the materials list at the bottom of this article, I listed some brushes. I used a flat brush about 5/16″ wide. It seemed to work well for me.
Take your time! This will not take long and is easy with a small brush.
The paint manufacturer recommends two coats of paint. You might think one coat is enough, but as you can see in the above pic, there are some thinner spots on the caliper. That’s fine…your goal with the first coat is to lay a foundation.
I hope you can tell that the second coat provides much better coverage. It is much easier to apply than the first and the result is impressive.
Note how little paint I used after all four brake calipers were painted. I feel you could paint the calipers on 3 or 4 cars with that little 8 ounce can.
The last picture shows the final product with the wheel back on the car. Most of the time spent on this project was waiting for the paint to dry between coats and before the wheel could go back on.
For my wheels, the brake calipers are not as noticeable at a stop because of all of the wheel spokes. Once the vehicle is in motion, they really stand out (yes, I drove the car in front of the windows in a strip mall so that I could see the car rolling).
For those of you who prefer video, I captured the whole process in this short video below:
I used the following materials for this project. Links to various sources are also included:
- Brake cleaner (available at any auto parts store)
- Small paint brush (available at hobby shops, WalMart, Amazon)
- POR 15 Brake Caliper Paint (Amazon). Available in Black, Blue, Yellow, Red
I only used about 2 ounces of paint for all four brake calipers. Some cars have larger calipers than mine, but don’t be worried if the little 8 ounce can of paint will be enough. It is.
Final Thoughts & Questions
I’m really pleased with the result of this project, and it certainly completed the look of my car. I hope this helps motivate you to tackle this kind of project yourself.