Brake calipers are vital to the car’s ability and stopping power. They are also one of the most important parts of an automobile’s brake system. Most cars nowadays have front brakes. However, many cars and trucks also use disc brakes at the rear. The disc-braking system uses metal discs to attach the wheels. These rotors spin in tandem with the wheels. The caliper works by creating friction with the rotating rotors to slow the car’s wheels.
The brake caliper fits on top of the rotor and acts as a clamp. Each caliper has an internal compartment.
A pair of metal plates, bonded with friction materials — these are called braking pads. The outside brake pads are located on the curb and the inboard brake pad is on the inside. Breatrol fluid from the mastercylinder creates hydraulic pressure in the brake system, pushing the pads against a rotor. The brake pads have a high friction surface and slow down or stop the rotor. The rotor and wheel are connected so that they can slow or stop at the same time.
Older trucks and cars used drum brakes. This is where the wheels move slower due to friction between a rotating drum, and brake shoes that are mounted inside the drum. This friction caused heat to build up within the drum. This was known as brakefading. Because brake pads for disc brake systems are not contained within drums, they can be ventilated more easily and heat doesn’t tend to build-up as quickly. Modern vehicles have largely replaced drum brakes by disc brakes. Some cars, however, still have drum brakes for their rear wheels.
There are two main types: fixed calipers (or floating) and fixed calipers. Floating and fixed calipers are able to move in and out of the rotor. There are only one or two pistons located on the inboard side. This piston pushes all the calipers when brakes are applied. It creates friction from the brake pads. Fixed hydraulic calipers don’t move but instead have pistons placed on opposite ends of the rotor. Fixed calipers are preferred for their superior performance but they are more costly than floating calipers. High-performance fixed calipers may have more than two pairs of pistons (or “pots”) on each side of their rotor. Some have six or more.
Special tools are helpful when dealing with brake calipers. In the next section we will discuss this and then the different types available for different vehicle types.
Performance Brake Calipers
Disc brakes originally were designed for race cars. Although race cars can move at high speeds, they must also decelerate quickly. In the early days racing cars were equipped with drum brakes. brakefading caused a lot of mishaps. Disc brakes were more ventilated and, as a consequence, less stress was caused by racing and excessive heat.
Brake fade can be reduced by buildup. Over time, these powerful brakes were reduced to less-performance-oriented cars. These brakes are now found on all economy cars. However, high-performance cars continue to be a market for superior brakes. These brakes offer superior stopping power and are available in variations of the basic brake caliper design.
There are limits to how far the vehicle’s brakes can stop it. While they can bring it to an abrupt halt, the gripping power of its tires will do the rest. Brake parts that are more powerful than the original can help, but not beyond that point. There are many ways brake calipers can (and have) been improved. These are some of the most common features in performance brakes calipers:
- Larger pistons – The more clamping force they exert upon the rotor, the bigger the pistons.
- There are more pistons — Low end floating brake calipers only have one piston. This is on the inboard. Low-end fixed calipers use a single pair pistons to flank the rotor disc. High-performance models can have multiple pins (or pairs) mounted on opposite ends of the rotor. 6-piston models have become more popular, while 12-piston models remain common. The clamping power of the caliper is also increased by increasing its number of pistons.
- Less heat loss — In a way, your brakes could be thought of as a device to convert movement into heat. As the vehicle slows down all that kinetic energy must be transferred to somewhere. Most of it is converted into heat. The friction between brake pads and rotors generates heat in the same way as heat generated by striking a match. When too much heat builds up, brakes can become less effective or fade. Therefore, brake calipers that are properly ventilated will perform better. Additionally, heat is distributed more widely if the brake rotor has a larger surface.
- Differential bore Calipers — As brake fade is a possibility, it is necessary to increase the clamping force of pistons as the surface heats up. Multiplying calipers (or multiple pair of pistons) heats up the brake surface. This is because the pistons push against brake pads at the leading edge. Rotor surface heats up when the pistons rotate back towards the trailing edge. It helps to have the pistons closest to the rear of the caliper. Differential-bore brake calipers use smaller pistons in the front and larger pistons in the back.
All these technologies can improve the braking power of your caliper. These technologies are not required for small cars that don’t typically drive at high speeds. High-performance brakes will help your vehicle be faster and more powerful.
Calipers for Truck Brake Calipers
It is obvious that trucks and SUVs can be large, sometimes exceedingly so. Increased size means increased momentum. Trucks and SUVs have to stop faster than cars. How can they get the stopping force they need? Truck brake calipers. The clamping power of a brake caliper determines its stopping power. It is the force that it can apply on the surface of the rotor. This is mainly a function the number and area of the brakepad (where it contacts the rotor). It is obvious that a caliper having a greater clamping power can stop or slow down a vehicle faster than one with a lower clamping strength.
Trucks come with basic floating calipers which provide sufficient clamping power as the truck is being delivered to the dealer. The factory-installed brakes might not be sufficient to provide the required braking power for truck with heavy cargo or tires. There are many options for truck brake calipers. According to the manufacturer, truck calipers might provide approximately 5,000 square metres (7.8 inches) of surface between the pistons of the rotor. Aftermarket calipers can double this surface area and provide the clamping force necessary for fully customized vehicles.
Truck brake calipers must deal with heat more than any other brake part. Heat is bad for brakes as it can cause brake fade, reduced stopping distances and brake fade. To ensure consistent and reliable brake performance, good ventilation is crucial. Additionally, a larger brake brake rotor (or brake disk) can spread heat more widely.
Special brake equipment is not only required for trucks and SUVs. However, the calipers on these heavy-weight vehicles have to do a challenging job. Many people might argue that truck brakes calipers should also be high-performance brakes. The next section will discuss some of the benefits that high-performance brakes calipers offer other vehicles.