How To Clean Painted Brake Calipers

Cleaning painted brake calipers is an essential task for car enthusiasts and DIYers who want to maintain the appearance of their vehicle and ensure optimal braking performance. Painted brake calipers not only enhance the aesthetics of your car but also protect the calipers from corrosion. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of cleaning painted brake calipers to keep them looking great and functioning well.

Materials You’ll Need


Safety should always be your top priority when working on your car. Park your vehicle on a level surface, engage the parking brake, and put on your safety gear, including gloves and eye protection.

Step 2: Lift the Car

Use a jack to lift the car off the ground and secure it with jack stands. Make sure the vehicle is stable and won’t move while you work on it.

Step 3: Remove the Wheels

Loosen the lug nuts on the wheels, then lift each wheel off the vehicle and set it aside. This will give you access to the brake calipers.

Step 4: Prepare the Surrounding Area

To prevent overspray from the brake cleaner or paint, cover the surrounding areas with plastic bags and secure them with tape. This will protect your wheel, tires, and other parts from chemicals and paint.

Step 5: Clean the Calipers

Spray the brake cleaner onto the painted calipers. Allow it to sit for a few minutes to break down brake dust, dirt, and grime. Use a wire brush to gently scrub the calipers, focusing on areas with stubborn buildup. Wipe off the cleaner and residue with a clean cloth or paper towel. Repeat this process until the calipers are clean and free from contaminants.

Step 6: Touch-Up Paint (Optional)

If the paint on your calipers is chipped or faded, you can use high-temperature paint to touch up the finish. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application. Ensure the calipers are clean and dry before applying the paint.

Step 7: Reassemble

Once the paint has dried (if you applied touch-up paint), carefully remove the plastic bags and tape from the surrounding areas. Put the wheels back on the vehicle and hand-tighten the lug nuts. Lower the car from the jack stands and finish tightening the lug nuts in a star pattern. Torque them to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Step 8: Test Brakes

Before driving, pump the brake pedal a few times to ensure that the calipers engage properly. This step is crucial for your safety.

Step 9: Final Inspection

After reassembling and testing your brakes, take a few moments to inspect the painted calipers closely. Look for any spots you may have missed during cleaning and ensure that the touch-up paint, if applied, has dried evenly and matches the existing finish. This step ensures a thorough job and a polished appearance.

Step 10: Apply Brake Caliper Sealant (Optional)

For an extra layer of protection and a shiny finish, consider applying a brake caliper sealant. This sealant not only enhances the look of your painted calipers but also helps protect them from brake dust and environmental contaminants. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.

Step 11: Maintain Regularly

Maintaining the cleanliness and appearance of your painted brake calipers is an ongoing process. Brake dust and dirt can accumulate relatively quickly, so make it a habit to inspect and clean your calipers regularly. This will help you spot any issues early and prevent the need for more extensive cleaning or touch-up painting.

Additional Tips:

  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Stick to a brake-specific cleaner when cleaning your calipers. Avoid using abrasive or corrosive chemicals, as they can damage the finish.
  • Use a Microfiber Cloth: A microfiber cloth is gentle on the caliper’s paint and won’t scratch the surface.
  • Inspect Brake Lines: While working near the calipers, take a moment to inspect your brake lines for any signs of damage, leaks, or wear. Address any issues promptly to ensure the safety of your braking system.
  • Consider Professional Painting: For a truly custom look, you can opt to have your calipers professionally painted or powder-coated. This ensures a durable and high-quality finish.
  • Be Mindful of Temperature: When using high-temperature paint, make sure to apply it in an environment with the recommended temperature range. This will help the paint cure properly.

Cleaning Supplies

No.Cleaning SuppliesDescriptionPurposeSafety Precautions
1Brake Cleaner SprayRemoves brake dust, oil, and grimeInitial cleaningWear gloves and goggles
2Soft Bristle BrushGentle scrubbing on painted surfacesRemoving loose debrisAvoid scratching paint
3Microfiber TowelsLint-free, absorbentDrying and wipingKeep them clean
4Masking TapeProtects surrounding areas from oversprayMasking offEnsure clean removal
5Wheel CleanerCleans wheels and tires simultaneouslyPrevents oversprayAvoid contact with skin

Cleaning Steps

No.StepDescriptionTipsTime Required
1Lift the CarUse a jack to lift the vehicle and secure it on jack stands.Ensure stability and safety.15 minutes
2Remove WheelsTake off the wheels to access the brake calipers.Use proper tools and store the wheels safely.10 minutes
3Initial CleaningSpray brake cleaner on calipers and scrub gently with a brush.Work in a well-ventilated area.20 minutes
4Rinse and DryRinse with water and dry thoroughly using microfiber towels.Ensure no residue is left.15 minutes
5Masking OffUse masking tape to cover areas around the calipers to avoid overspray.Be precise and cover all needed areas.10 minutes

Cleaning Tips

1Avoid Harsh ChemicalsDon’t use abrasive or corrosive cleaners that can damage the paint.
2Work in a Well-Ventilated AreaEnsure proper ventilation to avoid inhaling brake cleaner fumes.
3Wear Protective GearGloves and goggles protect against chemicals and debris.
4Use a Wheel BrushA specialized wheel brush reaches tight spots for thorough cleaning.
5Follow Manufacturer’s RecommendationsRefer to the car’s manual for any specific cleaning guidelines.

Common Mistakes

No.MistakeDescriptionHow to Avoid
1Skipping Proper MaskingOverspray can damage surrounding areas.Mask off areas diligently before spraying.
2Using a High-Pressure WasherHigh-pressure water can force contaminants into the paint.Stick to low-pressure methods for rinsing.
3Neglecting DryingLeaving moisture can lead to rust on the calipers.Ensure thorough drying with clean towels.
4Applying Too Much Brake CleanerExcessive cleaner can harm the paint and rubber parts.Use it sparingly and precisely on the calipers.
5Rushing Through the Cleaning ProcessInsufficient cleaning can result in subpar results.Take your time to clean the calipers properly.

Maintenance Schedule

1Regular InspectionMonthlyCheck for brake dust buildup and cleanliness.
2Touch-Up CleaningAs neededSpot clean as soon as you notice brake dust accumulation.
3Full Caliper CleaningEvery 6 monthsPerform a thorough cleaning following the steps mentioned.
4Reapply Protective Coating (Optional)AnnuallyIf applicable, reapply a protective coating for longevity.
5Check for Paint DamageRegularlyInspect for any paint damage and address it promptly.


In conclusion, cleaning and maintaining painted brake calipers not only adds a touch of style to your vehicle but also contributes to its overall safety and performance. By following these steps and staying on top of regular maintenance, you can keep your car’s brake calipers in top-notch condition for years to come. Remember, a well-maintained vehicle not only looks good but also ensures a safer and more enjoyable driving experience.

How To Clean Painted Brake Calipers

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