Best Brake Caliper Paints: Them's the Brakes

Vivek Nayyar
by Vivek Nayyar

Top 8 Best Brake Caliper Paints

For those of us unable or unwilling to make monthly payments to an OEM overlord, preventing us from ordering a car exactly as we’d like it from the factory, turning to the aftermarket sates our desire for owning a vehicle that’s a bit different than all the others that left the factory. Beats turning to illicit substances, I suppose.

Painting the brake calipers on your car is a bit more involved than just slapping a bit of house paint on metal, given the operating temperatures involved and the, y’know, critical function that brakes have on safety. Prep is key, eliminating overspray and protecting key components from damage. The paint itself should also be designed for use in this manner.

And, for the love of all that’s holy, please don’t touch your car’s brakes in any manner if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Table of Contents

1. Editor's Choice: POR-15 Red Caliper Paint

Despite having one of the least consumer-friendly names on this list, POR-15 has a strong reputation amongst people who know what they're talking about. It's a high-performance coating designed to be applied directly on prepped surfaces, particularly in automotive applications.

This example of the brand's caliper paint is red but it is also offered in yellow or blue plus black and silver for the less imaginative DIYers. Formulated for high heat applications, this stuff is advertised to provide a tough and attractive coating when properly applied.

Pros

  • Well-known name, many colors

Cons

  • Half-pint non-aerosol can

Bottom Line

  • Specifically designed for this type of work

2. Dupli-Color Red Single Brake Caliper Kit

This kit from Dupli-Color includes a can of caliper aerosol cleaner to make sure the surface you're painting is good and clean before hitting it with the paint. As a bonus, this stuff is said to dry to the touch in just 30 minutes, meaning you can continue to procrastinate just like you always do.

The box also includes a paintbrush and masking tape, the latter of which will do wonders for the scourge that is overspray (pictures will almost always show calipers being painted off a car, by the way). According to the instructions, this paint will be dry enough to handle in about an hour, permitting one to put your newly painted calipers back on their car in jig time.

Pros

  • Includes cleaner, matte or gloss options

Cons

  • You'll need to buy more than one

Bottom Line

  • Fast-dry convenience

3. VHT Real Red Brake Caliper Paint

Real Red is better than Fake Red, we suppose. Naming conventions aside, this product from VHT is a very affordable option that's sold by the each or in cases of six. And, yes, VHT does stand for Very High Temperature.

VHT says the paint has been specifically designed for brake, drum, caliper, and rotor custom detailing, though the first one of you lot to spray paint the rear drums on their clapped out Cavalier loses 1,000,000 internet points. Superior heat and chemical resistance keeps it from peeling and fading.

Pros

  • Great price, easy-to-use aerosol can

Cons

  • Not for sale in Catalina Island (oookay)

Bottom Line

  • Best when used with primer color paint and clear coat process

4. Superwrap Sprayable Vinyl Wrap

Wraps aren't just found during trips to Chipotle and Subway anymore. Gearheads know that flush-with-cash Instagrammers can wrap their entire car in a bid for more Likes but wrapping single parts of one's vehicle is also an option for those of us with fewer than a million subs.

The formula is said to mimic a high-end powder coat all while remaining completely removable like rubber-based coatings. The kit includes a prep spray, base coat, and high gloss in one of a couple of dozen colors. It's a unique new take on an established process.

Pros

  • Tons of color options, ease of removal

Cons

  • Trial and error might cause some wastage

Bottom Line

  • Peel it off when you get bored of it

5. Rust-Oleum Automotive High Heat Spray Paint

This flat red paint from the common brand Rust-Oleum should provide a durable and long-lasting finish to your project. From experience, we can say this stuff resists oil and solvents plus doing its best to shake off salt and humidity.

Rust-Oleum says their High Heat paint is a tough protective enamel that renews and protects surfaces subject to heat up to 2000° F. That means it'll even endure the Hades-grade heat thrown off by the sketchy brakes on your hooptie. Perhaps it's better to invest in a new set of pads instead.

Pros

  • Aerosol convenience, ultra-high temperature rating

Cons

  • Reports of not being true-to-color

Bottom Line

  • Buy more than you think you'll need

6. G2 High Temperature Brake Caliper Paint

Hey, look - your author is linking to an option other than bright red. Annoyingly for the wallflowers in the audience, it's to an equally annoying shade of blue. Fear not - plenty of drab options exist for the introverts in this audience.

G2 touts this stuff as the most complete and easy-to-use kit available, though there are definitely some other well-thought-out kits on this list. It does includes tools necessary for painting a set of calipers though feedback in the comments recommend users source their own brush.

Pros

  • Long-lasting according to real-world customers

Cons

  • Pick up a good quality brush (sold separately)

Bottom Line

  • Pink and lime green options!

7. MGP Red Brake Caliper Covers

This option strays away from actual caliper paint but is provided as an example of an alternative product that may hold appeal for some in the audience. Instead of hitting the calipers with a shot of red paint, these covers slip over the units and are vehicle specific for a precise fit.

The seller says there is no plastic used in the body of these covers. Instead, a high quality aluminum makes up its construction and is paired with vehicle-specific stainless-steel clips. The latter is important because you definitely don't want these things falling off, jamming your braking system, and ruining an otherwise pleasant day.

Pros

  • Looks the business with model names and silver details

Cons

  • Very expensive

Bottom Line

  • An intriguing if wallet-draining option

8. Dupli-Color Blue Metal Anodized Spray

We'll wrap up this list with another entrant from the giant called Dupli-Color. This time, it's a simple can of aerosol paint instead of a full meal deal kit. These are anodized colors for an extra shot of bling; even the grey shade has a bit of shine and sparkle.

Not the heat rating is just 500 degrees, however, and that is listed as 'intermittently'. The paint is actually specified as for use on existing chrome surfaces, though there are plenty of people in the feedback section who have used this stuff on their car's brake calipers. This, of course, flies in the face of my own advice dispensed at the top of this post.

Pros

  • Look - something shiny!

Cons

  • Not a great heat rating

Bottom Line

  • Perhaps look elsewhere for a true caliper paint

FAQs

What paint should I use for brake calipers?

Because brake calipers can heat up quite extensively while in use, strong and durable paint that can withstand high temperatures must be used. In this context, the two variants that are mostly preferred and recommended by the professionals are:

Dupli-Color

A brake caliper paint that can stand the temperature of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

VHT Caliper Paint

This one has a tolerance of 900 degrees Fahrenheit and is therefore considered a better option.

Which is better Dupli-Color or VHT?

Although both Dupli-Color and VHT are good for painting the brake calipers, when comparing the two, the former falls short in some features and characteristics that include:

Temperature

Dupli-Color can stand the heat of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit whereas VHT’s withstanding capacity is as high as up to 900 degrees.

Dry-Time

Post application, Dupli-Color takes around 30 minutes to 60 minutes to dry. For best results, it is suggested that the vehicle should be left unused overnight. On the other hand, VHT caliper paint takes around 2 hours to dry after which you can hit the road. Alternatively, after painting with VHT, you can also bake the calipers at 200 degrees and then work on the finishing after that.

Application

Because Dupli-Color is only available in an aerosol version, it requires the brake calipers to be removed from the vehicle for application. Whereas when it comes to VHT, the paint is specifically formulated for the purpose and comes with paint brushes, aerosol cleaner, masking tape, and a step-by-step instruction manual. These components enable you to apply VHT without taking the calipers off your car.

Color Options

When talking about colors, Dupli-Color doesn’t have as many options as VHT does.

Considering all the above points, it would be safe to say that VHT brake caliper paint takes precedence over Dupli-Color. Therefore, if you want to choose any one among the two, VHT would be a better option to go for.

Is Dupli-Color caliper paint any good?

A short and quick answer would be, yes, it is.

Although Dupli-Color closely loses the race when compared to VHT due to the characteristics like lower temperature withstanding capacity, application challenges, lack of required components like brushes, masking tape, instruction manual, etc., you can still use the paint as a good alternative. This is especially the case when you are looking for a silver color, a shade that is not available in VHT.

Do you need special paint for brake calipers?

Even though any paint can do, the professionals strongly suggest picking the one that can tolerate high temperature. Because brake calipers heat up while driving, a strong and durable brake caliper paint must be used. The two highly recommended variants for the purpose are:

This one can withstand up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit of temperature. However, the paint can be applied only after removing the brake calipers from the vehicle and can take somewhere from 1 hour to overnight to dry before you can start driving.

The temperature tolerance of VHT caliper paint is as high as 900 degrees Fahrenheit which is around 400 degrees more than what Dupli-Color offers. Furthermore, after applying VHT, you can either leave the vehicle for 2 hours to let the paint try or bake the calipers at 200 degrees, work on some finishing touch, and you are all set to hit the road.

In a nutshell, the type of paint that can stand high temperature must be used for brake calipers.

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Rental Reviews, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main Photo Credit: daily_creativity/Shutterstock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

Vivek Nayyar
Vivek Nayyar

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  • LostInTransit LostInTransit on May 16, 2023
    Por-15 is the best for a reason and not because you can't buy it in a spray.. but because it covers better than if one used a spray can. I found that while using a small foam brush and working in small areas around the caliper works better than just spraying it which doesn't offer total coverage. Did the 2020 Connect FoMoCo calipers in the Ford Blue. But after installing the Axe wheels.. the wife seen the red shield on the center cap and now wants red calipers. *facepalm* at least I know it will cover better than that other stuff and I should see to the color change later this spring. The only other options we have available to us is that just recently we discovered that the Brembo 4 & 6 piston caliper (designed for the Focus RS) fit the Transit Connect or we can purchase a set of the powder coated Powerstop red calipers. I think for now, I'll find time to repaint these myself.
  • Abrar Abrar on Jun 10, 2023
    Very easy and understanding explanation about brake paint
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