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What Are Callipers in Brake and How Does it Work?

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 07/05/2024

A vehicle is incomplete without a brake. It protects the vehicle from accidents and keeps you safe. The newest car models of today have disc brakes, either for the front wheels or both front and rear wheels.

Most people think that brake refers to the “braking system.” However, the system has many other components like rotors, lines, pads, discs, and callipers. Each of these components plays a part in its functioning. The brake calliper, for instance, is responsible for slowing down the car’s wheels by creating friction with the rotors.

In this post, we will understand the brake calliper meaning, how they work, their different types and components, the symptoms to recognise a faulty brake calliper, and when a need arises for replacement.

What are Brake Callipers?

Brake callipers give your car the ability to stop. Thus, they are undoubtedly one of the most vital automobile brake parts. They squeeze the rotors of the wheel.

When a driver applies the brake, the callipers exert pressure on the wheels. This pressure is caused by the hydraulic pressure generated on the calliper’s pistons. As a result, the car decelerates and finally stops.

Each wheel has a separate calliper. Generally, the calliper assembly is placed within the wheel and connected to the master cylinder through valves, tubes, and hoses. These components carry the brake fluid through the system.

Brake callipers are superior to drum brakes and are found in disc brakes, popularly used in vehicles nowadays.

How Does the Brake Calliper Work?

A driver presses the brake pedal when they want the car to stop. This action makes a part of the hydraulic brake calliper push against the brake pads. These pads have a friction lining, which presses the disc attached to the wheels. The other parts of the disc dissipate the heat generated by friction. Consequently, the wheels decelerate and stop the vehicle.

Different Types of Brake Callipers

Floating brake callipers

A floating brake calliper has one piston on only one side of the disc. However, its pads are connected to both sides. The calliper creates a back-and-forth movement on pins or bushings, acting as a clamp.

On applying brakes, the brake pad is pushed by the piston toward the disc’s inboard side. Then, the floating calliper slides on the pins or bushings to squeeze the outboard pad against the disc, resulting in the braking action.

Fixed brake callipers

A fixed brake calliper has more pistons, like two, four, six, or even eight. It is mounted to a bracket, but there are bushings or pins in the mount.

The number of pins is equal on the inboard and outboard halves of the calliper. The performance of the fixed calliper is better, but it costs higher. High-performance cars use fixed callipers with multiple pistons.

Sliding calliper

The sliding calliper functions like the floating calliper. The brakes are attached to a slot in the calliper adapters.

Components of a Brake Calliper

The design of the brake calliper is such that it comprises various key components. It uses high-quality materials to resist the forces and heat generated during braking.

Calliper Housing

The external covering enclosing the brake pads and rotor and housing the other components of the calliper is the calliper’s housing or main body.

Brake Pad Clips

These clips are responsible for holding the brake pads securely within the calliper.

Seals and Dust Boots

These components create a tight seal around the pistons to prevent dirt and contaminants from entering or accumulating. If seals are improper, there can be leakage of brake fluid or an imbalance of hydraulic pressure.


Pistons are placed within the calliper housing. They have a cylindrical design. On applying hydraulic pressure, pistons extend outward to push the brake pads against the rotor.

Bleeder Screw

This screw helps to release excess brake fluid and air from the calliper at the time of brake bleeding processes.

Modern-day brake callipers come with more advanced features apart from these components. They also include electronic brake pad wear sensors and anti-rattle clips to enhance efficiency and safety.

When Should You Replace Brake callipers?

Over the years, your vehicle will demand the replacement of various parts, including the automotive brake callipers. Although callipers are built to be durable, some factors can degrade their integrity. The seals inside the callipers can weaken and break down due to the heat generated by the braking system.

  • Brake callipers have a significant role in your vehicle’s functioning and help to avoid accidents. Delaying their replacement can prove to be fatal. So, if you notice any of the following signs, you must get your callipers inspected immediately to check if they require replacement.

  • There is a continuous grinding, squeaking, or squealing in your brakes.

  • The antilock braking system (ABS) warning light is turned on.

  • Your car pulls to one side or jerks on braking.

  • There is a brake fluid leak near the engine compartment or around the wheel.

  • You can notice smoke coming out of the wheels with a burning smell.

  • The brake pad becomes unusually hard, spongy, or soft, making it wear down prematurely.

  • Your brakes need to be pumped to work properly.


A car’s brake calliper is an essential part of its braking system. It transforms hydraulic pressure into mechanical force to slow down or stop the vehicle. It performs due to the piston’s precise movement, which exerts pressure on the brake pads against the rotor, producing friction and decelerating the wheels.

The engineering and design of a brake calliper are vital to guarantee safe and efficient braking performance.

Similarly, a car insurance policy is vital to protect you against financial losses. If you meet with an accident or your car gets stolen, car insurance covers the damages so you don’t have a hole in your pocket.

After you purchase a vehicle, a car insurance policy is a must-have. It has also been made mandatory by the Motor Vehicles Act 1988.

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How is a sliding brake calliper different from a floating calliper?

The sliding brake calliper is a variation of the floating calliper design. It is mounted in a slot in the calliper adapter. It uses one piston and operates on the same principle as the floating calliper.

How can one maintain brake callipers?

Three simple tips to maintain brake callipers include lubricating them frequently, cleaning dust boots regularly, and scheduling their timely servicing.

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