Car Caliper Replacement Cost [New, Seized/Stuck]
Your brake calipers are essential parts of your car’s safety as it’s the part that allows your car to come to a stop on command.
A faulty caliper can affect your car’s braking performance and may also cause additional wear and tear on your transmission, so it’s important to have it fixed as soon as possible.
On average, calipers cost between $200 and $900 with most vehicles costing between $400-$500. Luxury vehicles or high-performance automobiles will be more expensive for caliper replacement, and may be closer to the $600-$1,000 range, depending on the vehicle.
How Long Do Calipers Last?
Most people will never need to replace their brake calipers unless they keep their vehicle for a very long time. Calipers normally don’t fail until around 125,000 miles.
Brake pads and rotors are usually the braking system components that need replacement throughout the lifetime of the vehicle.
However, calipers are the most difficult part to replace so they’re also the most expensive.
A single caliper may cost anywhere from $25 to $200 or more. A full brake job including caliper replacement usually averages between $300 and $800, but for some cars the job will cost well over $1000.
Brake calipers can be found in both high and low price ranges. You can find both front and back brake calipers for $40 or less that are made with decent materials and usually come in sets of two.
Calipers that are in the $100 and up price range are usually more durable and made with better quality material. Sometimes they may include more pistons for better performance.
These calipers are typically designed and intended for higher intensity driving, extended travel, or racing.
Seized Brake Caliper Repair Cost
A seized brake caliper can result in a really bad day. When a brake caliper sizes, the wheel completely locks up. This is, of course, extremely dangerous. So, if you are hearing any funny noises from your wheels or your vehicle is pulling to one side or the other, then you need to take a look at your brake calipers.
If you take your vehicle to a shop, the average seized brake caliper repair cost can run as low as $100 and as high as $500 or more, depending on the severity of the issue. If you need your brake caliper completely replaced, the parts will cost somewhere between $250 and $950.
Labor costs to replace a seized brake caliper range between $150 and $350 for most cars. Repairing or replacing a seized brake caliper yourself can save you a lot of money. Generally speaking, brake calipers cost between $75 and $300 a piece depending on the vehicle. Doing the work yourself makes the labor charge $0.
Brake Caliper Cost, Rebuild, Or Replace Them?
If your brake caliper has seized up, you’ve got two options. You can either rebuild your brake caliper or have it replaced entirely. There are brake caliper build kits that are sold online and in local auto parts stores. It’s important to make sure that you get a high-quality kit. After all, these are your brakes.
The process of rebuilding a brake caliper is relatively straightforward. The main operation is to replace the seized brake caliper piston with a new one. But it’s not that simple. You also have to replace some other components while you are at it, namely the seals.
Brake caliper rebuild kits are not very expensive. They cost around $50, if you do the job yourself, you will not have to pay anything for labor. If, on the other hand, you take your car to a mechanic, rebuilding your brake calipers can cost as much as $200 to $300 dollars.
|Vehicle||Sized Brake Caliper Repair|
Brake Caliper Basics
Most cars have disc brakes on the front and back wheels, which use a rotor and a brake pad to slow and ultimately stop the wheels.
Calipers are attached to the steering or suspension system and don’t rotate with the wheels like the rotors do.
When you apply brakes, the calipers clamp onto the rotors, pressing the brake pad against it.
Over time, the brake pads will wear down and need to be replaced, as will the rotors. However, the calipers are designed to last a very long time.
Calipers come in two types:
Fixed Brake Calipers
These calipers don’t move relative to the rotors. They have pistons on either side of the rotor which clamp down on either side, pressing the brake pads on both sides of the disc.
These calipers work very well, but they’re more expensive. They’re typically only found on very large, heavy trucks and high-performance vehicles.
Floating Brake Calipers
Most cars are equipped with floating calipers. These have a single set of pistons on the inside of the wheel. These pistons push the brake pad against the rotor while pulling the caliper and brake pad on the outside of the wheel.
The outside caliper is “floating.” This type is less expensive and easier to install than fixed calipers.
Brake Caliper Problems
Calipers have to be tough and durable because of the conditions they’re exposed to. They’re located inside your wheel wells and are exposed to all kinds of weather, road conditions, and other elements.
They may be struck with road debris, and they get covered with dirt, dust, and brake dust. As a result, they can succumb to certain problems, including these most common ones:
- Sticking: This usually occurs with floating calipers. As the caliper is exposed to dust, dirt, and corrosion, it may become less effective at moving the floating caliper in and out against the rotor. As a result, it may lead to sticking or seizing. The brakes may not feel smooth, or the driver may experience a loss of braking power or responsiveness.
- Leaking: Calipers have rubber seals to keep hydraulic fluid inside. These seals can become damaged or worn, causing hydraulic fluid to lead onto the brake calipers. The result may be that the brakes work less effectively and the feel of the brakes is different than normal.
Calipers may also be affected by issues like bad brake hoses, bad brake fluid, master cylinder failure, or brake pads getting stuck to the discs.
Signs and Symptoms of Caliper Problems
If your calipers begin to fail, there are some things you may notice while driving to indicate a problem. If you notice these issues, it’s important that you bring the vehicle to a service station as soon as possible.
- Vehicle pulls to the left or right while braking.
- Brakes are less responsive.
- It takes longer to stop.
- It feels like your brakes are engaged while driving.
- Vibration at higher speeds.
- Your brake pedal feels soft or spongy.
- Sounds coming from the wheels or brakes – grinding, squeaking, clunking, screeching.
- A burning smell coming from the wheel area.
- Smoke coming from the wheel or wheels after driving.
- Clear, greasy liquid under the car in the wheel areas.
- Visible rust on the surface of your brake discs.
However, if you have some of these symptoms of a bad caliper but also have other issues with your brakes, it may not be a caliper problem.
Similarly, if you only have squeaking brakes and nothing else, it could potentially be a much less severe (and expensive) issue.
What Causes Brake Caliper Problems?
Since your calipers should last for a very long time, you may be wondering why you’re having issues with yours. Calipers are under a constant state of stress as they’re heated by the friction caused during braking, then rapidly cooling down when the brakes are released.
This causes strain over time, but still shouldn’t cause your calipers to fail.
Additional wear and tear is usually to blame for caliper issues. Driving and braking aggressively, driving with two feet so that your accelerator and brakes are pressed at the same time, and your environment can all cause additional strain on your calipers and braking system.
If you drive down a rough, dirt road every day, this will put additional wear on many vehicle components, brakes included. If you live in an area with high humidity or salt water, it could cause additional surface damage to your calipers.
Not keeping up with maintenance and changing your pads and rotors as needed will also cause damage to the calipers over time.
Other Related Repairs
If you don’t have to replace your calipers (or even if you do) there are likely other related issues that you’ll need to repair. Brake pads are commonly the cause of noises coming from your brakes and need to be replaced as they wear down.
Brakes may squeak and squeal due to moisture on the brake pads, so if it only happens first thing in the morning or after a rainstorm, then you probably don’t need to worry.
However, if your brakes are squeaking all the time it could be the brake pad wear indicator.
The wear indicator is a piece of metal that will rub against the rotor when your brake pad is worn down and needs to be replaced. Replacing your brake pads usually costs between $150 and $300 per axle.
The cost may vary based on the vehicle make and model and the type of pad. More expensive brake pads are more durable and will be able to withstand the heat and stress of your braking system for longer than standard pads.
You should expect to replace your brake pads every 40,000 miles, but that number may be higher or lower depending on how hard you are on your brakes and what you use your vehicle for.
If your brake pads are worn down for a long time and you don’t replace them, you may cause damage to the rotors, especially if you hear them squealing or grinding.
The good news is that the rotors don’t always need to be replaced.
Depending on the vehicle, you may be able to turn or resurface the rotors rather than replacing them if the damage is not too bad.
Resurfacing your rotors typically costs anywhere from $100 to $250, depending on how many need resurfacing and where you take your vehicle for the work.
If you’re able to turn the rotors, it will be a much less expensive repair, usually less than $30 per rotor.
The Bottom Line
Replacing a caliper is not an inexpensive repair, but most people shouldn’t need to replace theirs. If you don’t put too much additional wear and tear on your brakes, the calipers should last well over 100k miles.
However, if you need this work done, you should expect to pay around $400-$500, unless you have a luxury or high-performance vehicle. Those types of cars will be more expensive to repair.
You should always shop around and get a few estimates, especially if a garage tells you that you need new calipers. Some dishonest businesses may try to sell you new calipers that you don’t really need.
It’s always best to get a second opinion and compare quotes. Keep up with your regular maintenance, especially with your braking system, and the calipers should continue to work well in your vehicle for many, many miles.