What Is A Brake Caliper And Why Is It Important?

Brake calipers are essential to the operation of your Toyota's brake system. They play a big part in helping the brake pads stop the rotors from turning. In this article, we'll talk about what brake calipers are and how they work.

What Does a Brake Caliper Look Like?

A brake caliper can be described as a hydraulic vice for brake pads. It wraps around the rotor and contains the brake pads.


A brake caliper has several important components:

  • Mounting bolt
  • Housing
  • Piston(s)
  • Seal(s)
  • Bushings

How do Brake Calipers Help Stop Your Car?

Your car can’t stop without functioning calipers. When you push the brake pedal, the caliper squeezes the brake pads against the rotors, which helps stop the vehicle.

Here’s how the process works:

  • You stop on the brake pedal.
  • The master cylinder sends brake fluid to the caliper pistons, creating hydraulic pressure.
  • The hydraulic pressure causes the piston(s) in the brake caliper to extend.
  • The piston(s) forces the brake pads inwards against the rotor.
  • The heat and friction between the brake pads and the rotor slow down the rotor or bring it to a complete stop.
  • Since the wheel is connected to the rotor, the wheel stops too.

If you're more of a visual person, here's a gif that shows how the caliper squeezes the brake pads against the rotor:

Caliper gif

Image Credit: Fat Pencil Studio

How Often do Brake Calipers Need to be Replaced?

Brake calipers commonly go bad after about 75,000 miles. It's usually because the rubber seals harden and crack over time. That can cause:

  • The caliper to leak
  • The caliper piston to not fully retract
  • The guide pins to stick, leading to uneven pad wear

It’s smart to check your calipers at regular intervals. You could wait until you notice the signs of caliper failure, but we highly advise against doing that because once a caliper fails, you can no longer properly stop your vehicle.

Replacing your calipers is certainly something you can do at home. We offer wholesale pricing for genuine OEM Toyota calipers, so you can save even more money on a caliper replacement.

If you have any questions that weren’t addressed in this article, we encourage you to reach out to us via phone, email, or our contact form.

Written by Jason Lancaster