Freddi's Brake Caliper Painting Guide - GM Forum - Buick, Cadillac, Chev, Olds, GMC & Pontiac chat


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Old 04-14-2004, 11:33 PM   #1
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Default Freddi'* Brake Caliper Painting Guide

Freddií* 12 step program to painted calipers

Again, this is not Rocket Science, but this will hopefully help you get the job done with less work, and remind you of the important stuff.

Some might think that you can skip some of these steps, but this is the method I used, and the calipers still look great after a year. You decide.

This is not meant to be a guide for changing your brakes. This assumes that you already know how to disassemble/reassemble your brakes. If you donít, get a car manual as well.

Required Items:

Car Wax, your choice
Brake Caliper Paint, VHT or similar
Vaseline
2 Cans of brake cleaner (Cheap stuff will be fine)
Old toothbrush, or toothbrush sized wire brush
Masking Tape, (blue stuff works better and leaves less residue)
Newspaper
Old Blanket(*)

Step 1: Wash your car, and then give it a good coat of wax. It deserves it anyways, but a fresh waxed car will keep your overspray from sticking to your exterior. Youíre going to be spraying paint in your wheel well. No matter how well you cover the car, a small breeze may take the overspray under/over the car, and leave you a mess on a different side. Donít forget to clean and wax the lip of the wheel wells.

Step 2: Crack the lug nuts (just break them loose a 1/8th of a turn, for you younger guys) and then jack up the end of the car youíre working on. Use jack stands. Shake the car to make sure ití* secure, and then remove the wheels. (I know I said that I wasnít going to cover the basics, but feel as though we can all use a good reminder of the safe way of removing wheels.) Set your wheels to the side.

Note: Now is a great time to clean the rims, as ití* much easier to do the inside when they arenít mounted.

Step 3: Remove the calipers from the mount, and remove the brake pads. I pushed the caliper piston into the caliper, even though I wasnít replacing the pads. This will make it easier later, as any paint on the sealing surface of the piston is bad. Donít remove the hydraulic lines. Either perch the calipers on top of the suspension, or hang them with wire from the strut springs. Remove the rotors, and set them aside.

Note: Hydraulic lines are pretty durable, but you should avoid twisting the line. Do not allow your caliper to hang by the hydraulic lines, nor drop the calipers.

Step 4: Clean the calipers with the first can of brake cleaner. Donít by shy, use the can up. Use your toothbrush to get into the nooks and crannies. Use the tube that came with the brake cleaner to spray all of the Ďcornersí. Brake cleaner really burns when it gets in your eyes, so use eye protection.

Note: Brake cleaner can be very aggressive to asphalt. If you have a tar based driveway, use your Ďoil changingí pan under the caliper.

Step 5: Re-clean your calipers with good olí soap and water. This may seem like overkill, but if you donít want to be doing this project again, good adhesion of the paint requires a clean surface. Rinse well with a hose. Donít worry about the ground getting wet, as this will help to keep the dust down when youíre painting. If you have an air compressor, you can blow the water out of the crevices and holes. If you donít have a compressor, use a clean rag to dry it off the best you can.

Step 6: Clean them again, using the other can of brake cleaner. This has two functions, 1) to make SURE they are clean, and 2) will displace any water left over from the last step. Again, force brake cleaner into all the nooks and crannies.

Step 7: While youíre waiting for the brake cleaner to thoroughly dry from the calipers, start masking your car. Put blankets over the hood, using the wipers and body seams to hold it in place. Use masking tape to finish securing it, and to hold it up around the wheel well. Drape newspaper in the wheel well to protect it. If you donít care if you have overspray in the wheel well, you can skip this, but red or yellow is really going to show! Lastly, mask off the suspension.

Step 8: Mask off the caliper piston and seal. You can use Vaseline if you apply a heavy coat, as the paint will stick to the Vaseline and not the surface you apply it to. You can coat your hydraulic line as well, if you donít want to tape it. If you didnít push your piston in (step 3), make sure you coat the outside of the piston as well. Be careful with the application, any residue you leave on the caliper is going to keep the paint from sticking. Designate a single Vaseline finger and stick with it. (Us older guys know exactly what a Vaseline finger isÖ.Really Doc, take it easy!)

Step 9: Paint your calipers. Follow the directions on the can. Four thin coats ARE better than 2 thick ones. I recommend true brake paint because it does have a higher temperature range, and provides a surface that seals better than stove paint. Engine block paint doesnít even come close to handling brake temperatures.

Step 10: While youíre waiting for the paint to partially dry, remove your blankets, and newspaper. Anything that doesnít require you to move the caliper. Let the vehicle sit over night the let the paint harden up a bit.

Step 11: In the morning, finish removing your masking, and gently wipe any Vaseline off with a clean rag. Vaseline will attract dirt, and cause potential problems. Get as much off as you can. (Donít use brake cleaner, the paint is too fresh)

Step 12: Reassemble the brakes, put the wheels back on, and lower the car. If you pushed your caliper pistons in (Step 3), donít forget to pump you peddle before you tear down the driveway. Done!

Disclaimer: This worked great for me, and I would anticipate for you as well. If there is an error in these instructions, or you donít follow them correctly, youíre on your own. If you screw up your brakes, and go over a cliff, youíre still on your own.
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Old 04-14-2004, 11:36 PM   #2
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If anyone thiks that I might have forgotten to detail a step, or need more detail on a step, let me know.

Happy painting!

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Old 04-14-2004, 11:43 PM   #3
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WOW!!! That was an amazing how-to!

Thank you for the instructions.
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Old 04-14-2004, 11:56 PM   #4
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Sticky Worthy

Thanks for this Freddi seeing that I will be painting my calipers in May
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Old 04-15-2004, 12:03 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim W
Sticky Worthy

Cool! My first.

Someday I hope to be a real boy instead of a puppet!

I still need to do one of these for "Installing the 'custom' seat heaters into a 2000+". I'm kind of guided out, so will do it before mid summer. (before us northern'ers start thinking about it.)
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Old 04-15-2004, 12:16 AM   #6
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Thanks for the write up Freddi
Very well done and complete, will have to do mine now that the weather is better
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Old 04-15-2004, 11:59 AM   #7
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When jacking up the car, setting a wheel by the jack or stand, on the side you're not working on, will give you some room for safety.
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Old 04-15-2004, 01:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BonneMeMN
When jacking up the car, setting a wheel by the jack or stand, on the side you're not working on, will give you some room for safety.
I thought about that, and normally do that. I excluded that for two reasons:

1) You should mask them then, because when your using a bright paint, even a small amount shows up alot. Red paint on wheels = Lots of cleaning. Even after doing mine, I could feel the overspray on the top of the car. (If you looked real close you could see the bits o' paint) Fortunatly because of the fresh wax, it came right off.

2) At no point should you have to get under the car to perform this work. Nor should you sit in a fashion that could get a leg pinned etc. under the A-arms.

That being said, should I modify the guide?
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Old 04-15-2004, 02:46 PM   #9
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I do a tire under all the time for two reasons, but only in jack or stand failure.

1) If the jack or stand fails, you may damage the front or rear end HEAVILY. These are unibody cars, and don't take much to bend.

2) If it does fall of comes down slowly somehow, without a tire on, how are you going to be able to get it back up?

I figure the tires/wheels have to go somewhere. You could put the outside side of the wheel down, for overspray. If i ever paint mine, i'm tarping off the whole side of the car.

But not a bad writeup at all, 90% of a good paint job is prep. You hit it on the head.
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Old 04-15-2004, 04:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BonneMeMN

But not a bad writeup at all, 90% of a good paint job is prep.
Yep, if not more.
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