Top Caliper Questions

  • What type of fluid should I use: DOT 3, DOT 4, or DOT 5?

    As a rule, always use brake fluid recommended by O.E. which is stamped on the master cylinder lid.

    Note: Always use new fluid from a sealed container.

  • Are steel pistons better than phenolic, which are plastic?

    Phenolic pistons have an advantage over steel pistons;

    • Phenolic pistons do not rust
    • Phenolic pistons maintain original size regardless of age. They are not affected by heat or moisture in the brake system
    • Phenolic pistons do not transfer heat to the brake fluid
    • Phenolic pistons are lighter than steel
    • Phenolic pistons are fuel efficient and noise dampening
  • I installed a set of calipers and new pads on a Chevrolet Cavalier and 3 months later the right side was worn down to the rivets and the left side looked great. Do I have a bad caliper?

    The most likely problem was the system was not properly bled. When bleeding front wheel drive vehicles, they require a cross bleeding pattern due to the system being a split diagonal type, which means one front wheel and one rear wheel is grouped on one side of the master cylinder and the other sides are on the other half. This type needs to be bled in a cross pattern, usually RR, LF, LR and RF. If not properly bled, air will be trapped in one side and cause the other half to do the majority of braking. Also, check for a restricted brake hose.
  • I installed a set of Loaded calipers, cut the rotors and used anti-squeal compound but the brakes squeal all the time. What do I do next?

    Brake squeal is usually caused by vibration. Always make sure the pads are tight on the caliper. Many vehicles required clinching of the tabs to assure a tight fit. Cardone Loaded Calipers come with constrained layer shims to reduce noise and excess vibration and the outboard pad is clinched to the housing at the factory where applicable. Also, make sure the rotors were cut with a non-directional finish.
  • I have a caliper that locks up and won't release the pads. Should I just replace it?

    Not yet. Always check the system to make sure you are replacing the correct part and you know why the part went bad so the vehicle can be repaired properly. First open the bleeding valve on the caliper. If the pads release, then the caliper is good. If not, replace the caliper. Many times a defective hose or master cylinder is causing the pressure not to release.
  • I replaced a caliper and now I can't get a firm brake pedal. Why?

    Make sure the bleeder is at the highest point when mounted on the vehicle. Some calipers can be mounted on the opposite axles. If you have a step bore type master cylinder, make sure you're bleeding it correctly (waiting 20 seconds). Also, check Question #3.
  • I put rear calipers on 2 months ago and now the pedal is low and bleeding won't help. What should I do?

    Adjust the calipers as per the instruction sheet.

    Tip: You must use the hand brake to keep rear calipers adjusted correctly.

  • After caliper/pad replacement, the master cylinder is now acting up. What should I do?

    Whenever removal of the caliper is necessary, never force the piston in the bore without first opening the caliper bleeder valve and pinching off the flexible brake hose (use suitable tool) and forcing the brake fluid out of the system instead of back to the master cylinder. Contaminants or sediment will settle in the lowest point, the caliper, and if not forced out of the brake system, will go into the master cylinder and cause seal damage. NOTE: This is extremely important with ABS equipped vehicles.
  • My car pulls to one side during braking. Why?

    Check the steering and suspension. Then, inspect both calipers for binding or sticky slides or pins. Check brake lining for oil/grease or uneven wear. Inspect brake hoses for restriction. Check for proper tire pressure.
  • Why do my brakes lock up after only a couple of miles?

    Replace all brake fluid. Brake fluid is hygroscopic which means it absorbs moisture. Too much water in brake fluid will cause vapor lock and apply pressure to the wheels. Also check for proper push rod adjustments and stop light/cruise control switch adjustments.

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