This DIY article explains how to
paint your brake calipers and achieve a professional, durable finish.
My best advice is to take your time. I spent most of a day doing
mine, but it doesn't have to take that long. I did one side
& rear) at a time since I didn't feel comfortable taking my car
completely off the ground with the equipment I have. Having the
car tip off of the jackstands and land on the underbody would be a Very
Bad Thing™. But if you have access to the right equipment and can
get to all four calipers at once, you can shave a lot of time
That way, you can just rotate around the car. By the time you get
done with the fourth caliper, the first will be ready for another
Let's get on with the DIY, shall we?
paint - either high temperature caliper spray paint such as VHT
($6) or epoxy brush-on paint ($40) such as G2
jack and jack stands
brake cleaner (cleaning solvent) in a pressurized spray can
wire brush (brass, preferably); a rotary tool with a wire brush
attachment may also come in handy for tight spots
masking tape and newspaper
small paint brush - 1/2" to 1" wide (13 - 25mm)
The color is up to you. Strictly a matter of personal
preference. The most common colors are probably red, yellow,
black, and blue. Here's my
opinion of each color:
red - looks good on pretty much any color car; my car is red so
it was an easy choice.
yellow - also a good universal color, but some would say it's
played out...a little too flashy. But if you like it, go for it.
black - the understated color, won't get a lot of attention but
won't show brake dust as much, either. Looks at home with any
blue - I think it works well with blue, yellow, or black cars,
but please don't do it on a red car.
the car off the ground
Before jacking up the car, use the lug wrench to break the lug nuts
loose 1/2 turn. Set the parking brake and jack up one side of the
car so that both wheels come off the ground. Find sturdy spots on
the frame for the jack stands. Put one toward the front of the
and another toward the rear, then slowly lower the jack until most of
the weight is borne by the jack stands. It's a good idea to shock
the wheels on the opposite side of the car with something like bricks
cross-ties to be extra sure the car can't roll off the jack or jack
stands. Now finish removing the lug nuts, pull off the wheels and
set them aside.
Start by scrubbing the calipers with the wire brush dipped in gasoline,
mineral spirits, or some other solvent. If you notice any
spots, especially in tight spots where the brush won't reach, use some
sandpaper wrapped around your finger to scrub it clean. Then
follow up with some spray brake parts cleaner. It's a fast-drying
solvent under high pressure that blasts away any latent debris and
leaves the surface ready to paint.
I can't overemphasize the
importance of surface preparation. I'm convinced that's
why mine have held up so well. If there's the slightest bit of
oil or debris left behind, the paint
will be much more prone to chipping and peeling. You want to
start with immaculately clean
calipers. Finally, use masking tape and newspaper (small plastic grocery
bags work great too) to mask off the rotors, brake lines,
you don't want painted. You can do spot cleanup with acetone or
fingernail polish remover. Any overspray that gets on the
part of the rotors will burn off the first time you use the brakes.
I used red Plasti-Kote 900°F caliper spray paint. I know some
people swear by the more expensive epoxy paint, but mine are holding up
extremely well. When they're clean, they look just as beautiful
the day I painted them.
Begin with about four (4) coats using the small paint brush. As
needed, spray some paint into a plastic cup, dip the brush into it and
begin painting. I know it sounds funny to brush on spray paint,
but it helps get into the hard-to-reach spots. Coverage won't be
very good at this point, but that's okay.
Now put on about six (6) light coats with the spray can. The
biggest mistake you could make at this point is to go too heavy with it
and get a paint run. Don't get ahead of yourself and try to get
full coverage right away. A run is a big waste of time. It
takes a long time to dry enough to sand it down, or if you jump the gun
and try to wipe it up while it's still wet, it makes a mess of the
surrounding paint. Keep applying light coats until you are
with the coverage. Use care and make the last coat a little
heavier to smooth out the finish.
The rule of thumb is 15 minutes between coats, but it may take more or
less depending on the temperature and humidity. To check, very
carefully touch the surface in an inconspicuous area. If it is
tacky, wait a little longer. Just don't touch it too hard or in a
spot that is readily visible or you might leave a fingerprint. If
you're within the paint manufacturer's recommended temperature and
humidity and it's taking much longer than 15 minutes, you're probably
applying too much.
If it is below 70°F while you're trying to paint, a helpful trick
is to soak the spray can in a bucket of hot water. Doing so will
allow the paint to atomize into smaller particles and give more uniform
The combination of brush and spray work really well. The brush
gets into the spots that can't be reached with the spray, and putting
the finish coats with the spray gives it a nice smooth finish that
like it was professionally powder coated.
It may be hard to resist, but it's recommended that you not drive the
car for 24 hours in order to allow the paint to properly cure and
harden. You worked hard to do a good job, so don't chance
it. Sit back and admire your work.