Nothing says “low class” more than painted brake calipers on a cheap car. It is unclear when this trend started, but I am sure that it starter when wheels started to cross the 17″ mark. Historically, brake calipers were black, silver or a gold Cadmium plating. The color of the brake caliper was dictated by the material.
Up until the early 1990s, all high performance vehicles from Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche sported black or silver brake calipers. Some say it was the Ferrari 355 that started the trend with red powder coated Brembo calipers. After that, even the 1995 Pontiac Grand Am GT came with red brake calipers. Today, most people know if they see a Porsche with yellow brake calipers, they dished out $7,000 or more for the carbon ceramic brake package.
DIY caliper painting took off in the 1990s when somebody decided to try high-temperature engine paint on their calipers. When the paint companies saw this they encouraged the trend by making caliper specific paint.
Here are a few tips if you are planning to paint your calipers
DO paint the caliper if it is a is a performance caliper with opposing pistons.
DON’T paint the caliper a bright color if it is single piston caliper mounted on a tiny rotor. Go with black, it will make your wheels look better. A brightly colored caliper can be a visual distraction and make the wheels look cheap.
DO remove the caliper from the vehicle or at least remove on caliper guide pin bolt and swing it up or down. Remove the hardware and pads so they are not covered in paint.
DON’T paint the entire caliper on the car. Paint on some surfaces can cause the caliper to seize. Avoid any surfaces that come in contact with the pad.
DO replace the hardware after painting the caliper. Shiny abutment clips, shims and anti-rattle clips will add some extra bling.
DON’T paint the areas of the rotor/disc that make contact with the pads. Paint contains components that can contaminate the brake pad and change the friction levels. This contamination can stick around long after the rotors looks like it is nice and shiny.
DO use the right products. Brake calipers can get hotter than the engine, so the right paint is critical. Some two-part epoxy paints the are applied with a brush work great and lasts a long time.