Top 8 Best Brake Caliper Paints
By | Last updated: September 25, 2020
Image: daily_creativity/Shutterstock.com

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.

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

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.]

19 Comments on “Them’s the Brakes – Best Brake Caliper Paints...”


  • avatar
    R Henry

    The best paint for calipers is: None.

    • 0 avatar
      FerrariLaFerrariFace

      Hey there, Mr. Stick-in-the-mud!

      Painted calipers look cool. Hands down. But if you want a practical reason to do it, I have two words for you: remanufactured calipers. I don’t know about other people’s experiences, but the ones I’ve gotten always seem to rust once the protective oily stuff goes away (maybe someone else can explain why remans rust but new ones don’t). Painting them keeps that from happening and keeps them looking nice. And you can get caliper paint in black or silver if that’s your thing.

      I’ve always used the G2 kits. Easy, looks nice, and holds up really well. I’m getting ready to try a DupliColor kit since it was half the price.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        I suspect that the cleaning process makes “reman” brakes more prone to rusting since it probably strips factory coatings off them.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I’ve found that pretty much all aftermarket brake parts rust. Whether its the rotor hat or a caliper, the aftermarket must leave off the protective coating that is standard on OE parts.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        There are some premium calipers out there that are powder coated in the OE color if that was they way the left the factory or do a silver coating if they were bare from the factory. There are even companies that offer them powder coated in colors.

        https://www.ebay.com/sch/m.html?_odkw=crown+victoria&_ssn=brake_overstock&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=p2046732.m570.l1313&_nkw=powder+coated+calipers&_sacat=0

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      I go with covers. Can you put Brembo on them?

  • avatar
    JMII

    I used the VHT stuff before. It came in a Burnt Orange metallic color that matched my 350Z stock paint almost perfectly. Plus the Brembo brake option on the Z was a copper-like color, not red. I suggest several layers of clear applied on top because brake fluid eats paint and the process of removing wheels often results in a few bangs on calipers if your not careful.

    Those slip on covers are beyond embarrassing. Anybody caught with that junk on their car should have their license revoked!

    I think the reason re-manufactured calipers rust is part of the re-man process is sandblasting them clean. This removes every thing down to just bare metal.

  • avatar
    dwford

    What, you don’t just stick a little paint brush through the wheel??

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      My most negative inner voice says: ‘ Ew. Yes. The people who paint their unpainted, factory, calipers would do just that.’

      I guess people like the look?

      But also my (1965) VW’s drums got painted during the restoration, so I’m not allowed to make fun.

      Question for the group: Why have I never replaced a caliper in all my life? I’ve never changed brake fluid, rotors— or had to bleed my brakes, either.

      The brakes always just work.

      After a big down-hill stop at a red, I do crawl and try to clamp the hot pads down on the entire rotor, rather than letting one spot get too hot. Does that help, like— at all?

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        I just did it too, for my E36 M3’s brake calipers. But I used VHT silver caliper paint, to replicate the original colour. It looks clean and subtle. Hopefully it holds up!

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Back when we used to turn rotors instead of replace them it wasn’t uncommon to find “Jesus spots” on the first cut. That means a thin spot in the rotor about the size of the pads. So yeah someone got the brakes hot and sat hard on the pedal once they came to a stop. I always imagined the driver sitting there going Jesus Christ that was close as they gathered up the courage to let of the brakes.

        So yeah the slow roll is not a terrible idea.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      dwford – You must’ve missed last week’s article on best wheel brushes.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    Man, TTAC must really be hurting for cash to be running these fake shill reviews so often. I mean, the title doesn’t even match half the products included.

    Have you considered a model that involves Patreon or OnlyFans instead?

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    What’s the best paint for break rotors? My car breaks like crap when I use regular paint on the rotors.
    ;

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    You don’t want to use that wrap stuff on your calipers, it says it is for wheels and accessories and I seriously doubt that it can handle the heat.

    The last one is really a Candy paint. If you put it on raw aluminum or their metal cast paint which is supposed to look like cast aluminum then it gives it a look like colored anodized aluminum. I wouldn’t expect it to stick for long if put on chrome. I’ve used in on an aluminum valve cover and it lasted several years and I thought it looked pretty good.

  • avatar
    Keith Jones

    I’m old enough to remember red painted drums on street hot rods. Even though I was a kid, I knew it showed attention to detail.

    Drum brakes are rare now, but I can recall from a recent vintage car show visible drums were all painted or finished. Some subtle metal colors, some red. So why not calipers? Makes sense.

    I especially like the anodized finishes available. Standard type calibers may look rusty after a little time, on a perfect car they are especially distracting- even on the family hauler.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    What’s next? The best stick-on fender vents? The best chrome door edge guard, to put on every panel edge?

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