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Painting and Refinishing the Brake Calipers on a Lexus ES300

Hardlymoving writes about do-it-yourself automobile maintenance on various makes and models.

Another Step Toward Restoring Your Lexus ES300

As a continuation of my 1997 Lexus ES300 restoration project, I decided to replace the brake pads both at the front and rear end. With a little extra time and effort, I also decided to remove all the rust, oxidation, and grime that had accumulated over 20 years on the brake calipers and rotors. After the calipers and rotors were cleaned up, I used masking tape and heat-resistant outdoor spray paint to re-paint them.

I purchased 500-degree heat-resistant aluminum spray paint for the calipers and black barbecue spray paint for the noncontact surfaces of the rotors. The aluminum spray paint worked out great since the drying time was less than 10 minutes and the fan spray nozzle produced a nice, uniform, atomized pattern.

Spray-painting the calipers

Spray-painting the calipers

The rotors are made of cast iron. When new, they have a light corrosion-resistant coating from the factory, that begins to break down and show rust in a few years. Aftermarket brake component suppliers are now offering brake rotors with corrosion-resistant black or silver paint. So if you want, you can buy new rotors that have been pre-painted. My preference is to paint them myself if the rotors can still be resurfaced.

I did the initial cleanup of the calipers and rotors with a rotary wire brush and removed the residue using spray brake solvent. I treated the penetrated rust on the rotors with rust dissolver. I had some leftover naval jelly and used that on the rotors, but you can go the extra step by purchasing rust dissolver that reacts with the rust and locks future rust from forming.

You can spray on your finishing paint without priming. The absolute best stuff I've seen used is called POR 15. It works wonderfully but is not cheap.

After I painted the rotors with two coats, I had the rotors turned (resurfaced), which removed any residual paint over-spray.

Before painting the brake calipers, I masked over the slide pins and their dust boots. Instead of disconnecting the brake line from the caliper, I masked the brake lines and painted the calipers with the lines attached.

When I put the brakes back together with new brake pads, people were amazed at how nice they looked.

Looking To Rebuild A Caliper Before Painting?

Here's a video on a typical caliper rebuild project:

Want To Flush Out All the Dirty Brake Fluid?

Here's a easy way to perform complete brake fluid flush using a makeshift A/C vacuum pump:

Tools Needed

  • Different-sized wire brushes
  • Rotary wire brush that can attach to a drill
  • "Brake clean" spray solvent
  • Masking tape
  • Rust dissolver or remover
  • Heat-resistant outdoor spray paint (for both the rotors and calipers)

The videos below show you step-by-step how to clean up and paint the brake calipers.

Step 1. Front Brakes: Wire Brush and Remove the Caliper, Caliper Bracket and Rotors

Before removing any brake components, use a rotary wire brush to clean up loose rust, corrosion, and brake dust. Then perform the following:

  • Disconnect the brake line bracket from the suspension strut.
  • Detach the brake caliper from the brake caliper bracket. Again, use the wire brush to clean up the interior and exterior areas of the caliper that were not exposed when attached.
  • Detach the caliper bracket from the steering knuckle. Remove the brake pad slide clips and wire brush the bracket. When done, spray wash with spray brake solvent.

The video below demonstrates how I did it.

Step 2. Tape-Mask the Caliper and Paint

Apply masking tape to the caliper bracket slide pins and dust boots. You can now apply light coats of spray paint to the caliper bracket. After the bracket is dry (based on the drying time of the paint you're using), revisit the caliper and paint over areas that have been missed.

Wrap the caliper brake line and caliper piston with masking tape. Support the caliper and apply a light coat of spray paint. Revisit after drying, and paint over areas that have been missed.

I recommend applying two light coats of light spray paint.

The below video demonstrates how I did it.

Step 3. Brush Rust Dissolver Onto the Brake Rotor, Rinse with Water, Let Dry, Then Paint

The video below demonstrates how I refinished the front brake rotors. After the rotors dried, I had the rotors resurfaced. The resurfacing removed any residual paint overspray, which is why I did not mask over the brake pad contact surfaces.

Step 4. Mount the Brake Rotor, Caliper Bracket and Caliper

With all brake components painted and dry, perform the following:

  • Mount the rotor to the steering knuckle and hold in place with a lug nut.
  • Lubricate the caliper bracket pins.
  • Install the brake pad slide shims to the caliper bracket.
  • Install the brake pads onto the caliper bracket.
  • Bolt the caliper bracket onto the steering knuckle.
  • bolt the top portion of the caliper onto the caliper bracket
  • press in the caliper piston (if you are using new pads)
  • lower the caliper over the pads and secure the lower bolt
  • connect the brake line bracket to the suspension strut

The below video demonstrates how I did it.

Step 5. Rear Brakes: Same Technique for Refinishing and Painting with Slight Differences

The re-finishing and painting of the rear brake calipers and rotors is not much different than the front calipers.

The video below demonstrates how I did it.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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