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Will caliper paint last?

Caliper paint is a type of specialty coating used on brake calipers and other automotive parts. With its bright, eye-catching colors, caliper paint can really make your brakes stand out. But how long does this decorative paint job actually last in the real world? Here’s a look at the durability and longevity of caliper paint.


Caliper paint allows you to customize the look of your vehicle’s brake calipers, usually painting them a bright color like red, yellow, orange, green or blue. This draws attention to the brakes and wheels, giving the car a more aggressive, performance-oriented look. Caliper paints are formulated to withstand high temperatures and resist chipping, fading and abrasions. But no paint lasts forever, especially on a working part of your vehicle that’s exposed to the elements. Let’s take a closer look at how long you can expect caliper paint to last.

How Is Caliper Paint Applied?

Before applying caliper paint, the brake calipers must be thoroughly cleaned and sanded to remove any old paint or corrosion and provide a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to. A primer coat is often applied first to further improve adhesion. The caliper paint itself comes in an aerosol spray can and is applied with light, even coats. Most caliper paints require some curing time in between coats. The entire application process usually involves:

  • Cleaning and sanding the calipers
  • Applying primer
  • Spraying on several light coats of paint
  • Allowing proper curing time between coats
  • Applying a clear coat for extra protection (optional)

Proper surface prep and following the manufacturer’s directions for application and curing times is key to achieving optimal durability. Rushing the job often leads to peeling or early failure.

Durability Factors

How long your caliper paint job lasts depends on several factors:

Factor Description
Quality of paint Higher quality caliper paints that are specifically designed for high heat applications will last longer than cheaper brands.
Application process Proper prep work, following directions, and allowing adequate curing time leads to greater durability.
Driving conditions Frequent hard braking generates more heat which may cause paint to fail prematurely. Road conditions also matter, with salted winter roads being particularly demanding.
Location on vehicle Paint on rear calipers may last longer than fronts as they generate less heat.

Paying attention to these factors allows you to get the maximum lifespan out of your caliper paint job.

Expected Longevity

When properly applied, high quality caliper paint should last 1-2 years or longer under normal driving conditions. Here are some general longevity estimates:

Driving Conditions Expected Longevity
Light street use 2-3 years
High performance street driving 1-2 years
Track/racing use One season or less
Winter driving 1 year or less

These are general estimates only as longevity can vary based on the specific product used, application process, driving style, and conditions. Aggressive track use, extensive winter driving, and frequent hard braking will shorten the lifespan. But for lightly driven street vehicles, caliper paint should last 18-36 months or more.

Maintaining Your Paint Job

You can maximize the lifespan of your caliper paint by:

  • Using high temp paint specifically made for brake calipers
  • Properly cleaning and prepping the calipers before painting
  • Allowing for proper curing time between coats
  • Applying a clear coat for extra protection
  • Avoiding touching or scuffing the paint after application
  • Gently washing the wheels and calipers when washing your vehicle
  • Touching up any damaged paint as soon as possible
  • Avoiding harsh chemicals and power washers near the painted calipers

Good prep work, high quality paints, gentle washing, and touch ups will all help maintain that freshly painted look.

Signs of Wear

What are some signs that your caliper paint may be nearing the end of its lifespan? Look for:

  • Chipping or flaking paint
  • Fading or dulling of the original color
  • Paint discoloration from high heat
  • Brake dust sticking to the paint more
  • Visible rust or corrosion

As soon as you notice any of these issues, it’s time to clean, re-prep, and repaint the calipers if you want to maintain the decorative appearance. Don’t wait until the paint has completely peeled or flaked off as this requires more prep work.

Removing Old Paint

When the existing caliper paint begins to show signs of wear, you’ll need to remove it before applying fresh paint. This can be done a few different ways:

  • Sanding – Use 220+ grit sandpaper to lightly scuff the old paint then clean with brake cleaner.
  • Chemical stripping – Use a paint remover or chemical stripper, then rinse thoroughly.
  • Heat gun – Carefully heat the paint to soften it for easier scraping.

Avoid more abrasive methods like grinding or blasting as these can damage the caliper surface. Make sure all old paint residue is removed before applying new paint.

Best Practices

Here are some top tips for getting the longest lasting caliper paint job:

  • Choose high heat paint made for brakes. Look for temperature resistance of 500°F+.
  • Thoroughly clean and sand calipers to create a smooth surface.
  • Apply light coats, allowing 10-15 minutes between coats to cure.
  • Allow paint to cure overnight before reinstalling wheels.
  • Consider applying 1-2 coats of clear for extra protection.
  • Gently wash wheels and calipers when washing your vehicle.

Take the time to do proper prep work and apply the paint correctly. Avoid touching the painted calipers until fully cured. This will give you the longest lasting finish.


With the right caliper paint and proper application, you can expect your painted brake calipers to maintain their colorful, custom look for 1-3 years or longer under normal driving conditions. Aggressive driving and winter road conditions will shorten longevity. Inspect paint regularly and touch up any flaws immediately to get the maximum lifespan. Prepping properly and using high temperature paint designed for brake parts is key to durability. With a little care, your painted calipers will continue looking great for years down the road.