When it’s time to replace your brake calipers, cost is probably the first thing on your mind. It’s completely understandable why many people’s first instinct is to buy aftermarket brake calipers. They can be a lot cheaper than OEM calipers, after all!
However, are aftermarket brake calipers really cheaper than OEM calipers? The answer is usually no. While OEM brake calipers cost more upfront (but not always – see the end of this article), they’ll likely end up costing you less money in the long run. Here’s why:
1. Toyota Uses High Quality Materials to Build OEM Brake Calipers
Toyota ensures that its brake calipers are built with high quality materials. The metals used are plated or painted to withstand corrosion, and the seals are made with long lasting compounds. They can withstand extreme cold and heat, as well as moisture, dirt, and other elements of nature.
Part of the reason why aftermarket brake calipers are cheap is because aftermarket manufacturers tend to use low-grade materials that will crack, rust, or deteriorate over time. It's quite risky to use calipers made with unreliable materials that are quick to succumb to nature or heavy use. For example, if the piston seal fails, the piston will start to corrode. That means the piston will eventually start sticking, and the caliper will need to be replaced again.
2. OEM Brake Calipers are Built to OE Specs
When it comes to brake calipers, fitment is really important. In order for a brake caliper to function properly, it has to be exactly the same size as the original caliper. It has to fit over the rotor, provide the correct amount of room for the brake pads, and fit the caliper mounting bracket perfectly.
With several moving parts, the brake caliper has to be designed to OE specs in order to function without any issues. The ultimate goal of a brake caliper is to squeeze the brake pads against the rotor with just the right amount of pressure in order to stop the vehicle effectively. Precise fitment is guaranteed with OEM brake calipers, so you’ll always have the peace of mind that your OEM brake calipers will fit over the rotors and perform as expected.
It’s pretty common for aftermarket brake calipers to not fit quite right, and not perform that well. Aftermarket manufacturers design their parts at their own discretion, and it’s rare for aftermarket calipers to perfectly meet OE specs. A lot of aftermarket calipers are claimed to be designed to perform “better” than their OEM counterparts. For example, aftermarket manufacturers may add “heavy duty” pistons. However, that means that the calipers may not mesh well with the rest of the brake system.
3. OEM Brake Calipers are Covered by a Comprehensive 12-Month, Unlimited Mile Warranty
All genuine OEM Toyota parts, including brake calipers, are covered by the manufacturer’s 12-month, unlimited mile warranty. That means you’ll get to have your caliper(s) replaced for free within 12 months of installation should anything go wrong with them.
Aftermarket brake calipers are rarely covered by a warranty. If you get lucky and find one that is, it’s a good idea to make sure that the warranty is worth something. In other words, it’s common for a warranty offered by an aftermarket manufacturer to come with a long list of stipulations that are designed to favor the manufacturer rather than the customer. Whether your aftermarket caliper comes with a warranty or not, chances are good that you would have to fork over money for a brand new set of calipers if your aftermarket calipers fail.
Summing Up: OEM Brake Calipers are the Right Choice
Toyota takes a lot of pride in the quality and design of its brake calipers. They spent a lot of time developing and testing their entire braking system and ensuring that all of the parts work well together. Toyota’s careful attention to detail and determination to offer quality OEM parts result in high-quality brake calipers that function optimally within your vehicle’s braking system.
You can’t really say the same about aftermarket brake calipers. They’re pretty much a hit or miss when it comes to testing, quality, fitment, and warranty. Considering how the brake caliper is a very important part of the braking system, getting aftermarket brake calipers is basically like gambling on your safety.
When it comes to brake calipers, you get what you pay for. OEM brake calipers don’t always have to be expensive, though. A big reason why people decide to take a gamble on aftermarket calipers is because OEM calipers can be quite expensive at dealerships. However, here’s a secret: you can get genuine OEM Toyota brake calipers online at aftermarket prices.
At Toyota Parts Center, we carry a large selection of genuine OEM Toyota parts at deeply discounted prices. For example, a brake caliper that normally costs about $315 at a dealership costs about $230 on our website. We also carry brake caliper components, like pins and pin boots.
Check out our selection of OEM Toyota brake calipers and related components and see what we have to offer for your Toyota model!
Written by Jason Lancaster