What Are Brake Calipers?

What Are Brake Calipers? | Strande's Garage

Have you ever found yourself behind the wheel, approaching a red light, and as you gently press down on the brake pedal, your car slows to a smooth halt? It's something we all take for granted, but have you stopped to think about what magic happens in that split second? The answer lies in a component so crucial yet often overshadowed by its more famous counterparts - the brake caliper.

What Are Calipers?

Brake calipers are the essential muscles in your vehicle's braking system. They play a pivotal role every time you engage the brakes. Sitting astride your car's rotors like a clamp, they push brake pads against the rotor's surface when you press the brake pedal, creating friction and slowing your car down. But it's not just their function that's fascinating; it's their various types and applications across different vehicles that make them intriguing.

The Different Types of Calipers

Fixed Calipers

As the name suggests, these stalwarts are firmly mounted to the wheel hub and house two or more pistons arranged on opposite sides of the rotor. Their rigidity offers consistent braking force but at a higher cost due to their complex structure. Sports cars and performance vehicles often employ fixed calipers for their superior stopping ability.

Floating (or Sliding) Calipers

These are more commonly found in passenger vehicles and lighter trucks. They have one or multiple pistons on only one side of the rotor. When activated, they slide on a track to apply pressure to both sides of the brake pads against the rotor. Floating calipers are cost-effective and simpler in design, making them an ideal choice for everyday driving conditions.

Opposed Piston Calipers

A variant within fixed calipers, these heavy-duty contenders contain pistons on both sides of the rotor but within one single caliper housing. They are frequently used in larger vehicles such as trucks and some high-performance cars where maximum braking force is necessary.

Each type is engineered for specific performance characteristics and vehicle requirements, ensuring there's a perfect match for everything from compact cars to heavy-duty trucks.

Do Different Vehicles Use Different Calipers?

Almost every vehicle uses some form of brake caliper; however, the type employed varies widely depending on vehicle size, purpose, and manufacturer specifications. 

Compact cars and sedans mostly use floating calipers due to their cost-efficiency and adequate performance for everyday use.

On the other hand, high-performance sports cars require more robust braking systems to handle high speeds and sharp turns; thus, they typically utilize fixed or opposed piston calipers. 

Massive industrial trucks need even sturdier options like multi-piston fixed calipers designed for heavy loads and constant usage.

When it comes to your car's brake system, it has to perform at its best, each and every time. That's where we at Strande's Garage step into the conversation. Call us for expert maintenance and repair services, or conveniently book an appointment online with a few clicks!