Even if you know about brake calipers, you may think a brake caliper is a brake caliper, that they’re all the same. But, you’d be wrong. Brake calipers vary based on a vehicle’s purpose.
Single-piston design dominated early hydraulic calipers. The caliper had only one piston that forced the brake pads against the rotor. The outside pad was fixed, and the inside pad was extended and retracted by a single piston. You’ll still find single-piston calipers, primarily on the rear wheels for vehicles with four-wheel disc brake systems.
Dual-piston calipers mostly replaced the single-piston style. Dual-pistons have a piston on each side of the caliper. Each piston extends the brake pads, clamping the rotor from both sides. Both retract when the driver releases the brake pedal. Dual-piston calipers are common on front-wheel-drive cars and trucks manufactured in the USA.
Larger and faster vehicles have large brake systems, including the pads, rotors, calipers, wheels, and tires. Dual-piston calipers don’t have the strength for these larger vehicles which need more stopping power.
So, manufacturers developed a four-piston caliper. These calipers have two pistons on each side. Each of the two pistons is smaller in diameter than those used in dual-piston calipers. Two pistons per side more effectively distribute the pressure on the larger pads, increasing the friction. This increased friction slows and stops large vehicles.
Six, Eight-piston Calipers
SUVs, large trucks, performance sedans, and race cars have six and even eight pistons per caliper. These are needed because of the size of the brake pads and the stopping demands of these vehicles.
Eight piston calipers have dual brake pads, four pads per wheel and tire, doubling the friction material in contact with the rotor during braking.
With six and eight-piston calipers, there can be two brake line hoses connected to each caliper. The extra hoses ensure each piston gets the same amount of brake fluid pressure when braking.
Single and dual-piston calipers have only one brake line connected at the top of the caliper. This simpler system provides even pressure to the pistons.
Another difference is how calipers are mounted onto the suspension. Most calipers are mounted on the trailing edge of the rotor. But, in performance vehicles, they are mounted on the leading edge of the rotor. This position increases the stopping capacity these faster cars need.
About Goodyear Brakes
Goodyear Brakes manufactures premium quality brake bundles, calipers, rotors, brake pads and all the hardware required to successfully install brakes, all backed by a national warranty, decades of production experience and one of the best-known names in automotive excellence. The brake pads are manufactured in the USA using a proprietary green production process by a company with more than 50 years of experience in friction science. The Goodyear Brakes product line is available through Goodyear Brakes at Amazon, CarID, Buy Brakes and AutoAnything.
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