What Does Unloaded Brake Caliper Mean?

While I am sure you must have heard about brake calipers, did you know they come in two types: loaded and unloaded? What does unloaded brake caliper mean?

Brake calipers are a critical part of the vehicle that makes it safe to drive. Without a brake caliper, you may not be able to control your vehicle properly. 

If your vehicle has disc brakes, the brake calipers help slow down and stop your car. The brake caliper compresses the brake pads against the rotors to stop your vehicle.

There are two types of brake calipers: loaded and unloaded brake calipers. Do you know what loaded and unloaded brake calipers mean? 



The unloaded caliper comes with a caliper and a piston and has no pads or hardware. While the loaded caliper comes with brake pads and hardware already installed.

It is essential to know about the vehicle’s parts so you can get it repaired when you find any issue quickly. In this article, let us look at brake calipers in detail and other related questions.

What Is a Loaded Brake Caliper?

A loaded brake caliper is a set of tools that are already installed, and you need to fix it in your vehicle. One advantage of using loaded brake calipers is it helps restore your car’s brakes in new condition. Having loaded brake calipers prevents the risk of any leakages, uneven wear of brake pads, and other such issues. 

What Is A Semi-Loaded Brake Caliper?

A Semi-loaded brake caliper comes with all the tools and necessary hardware to install the brakes but does not include the brake pads. If your vehicle has brake pads already, you can replace the caliper.


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What Does An Unloaded Brake Caliper Mean?

An unloaded brake caliper comes with just a caliper and a piston, and it does not include brake pads and any hardware. It is less expensive, but you will need all the necessary hardware, pins, and bushings for installation if you are doing a complete brake job. You will get everything with a loaded brake caliper.

With unloaded brake calipers, you will have to buy the caliper pins, screws, brake pads, and other necessary tools. Buying unloaded brake calipers will help you customize your braking gears to a large extent. 

What Is An Unbracketed Brake Caliper?

The unbracketed brake caliper is an essential component of the vehicle’s automatic braking system. It is not equipped with sliding pistons and is relatively expensive but offers excellent overall performance. This type of brake caliper is ideal to use in high-end vehicles.


What Does Unloaded Brake Caliper Mean


What Are The Two Types Of Brake Calipers?

Mainly there are two types of brake calipers: Floating and fixed calipers. 

Floating Caliper

Floating brake calipers move in and out against the rotor, and it can have one or two pistons on the inner part of the rotor. When you press your vehicle’s brakes, the piston propels the brake calipers, creating friction from the pads placed on the sides of the rotor.

Fixed Caliper

On the other hand, fixed brake calipers do not move. Instead, it is equipped with pistons against the rotor. These calipers are more expensive than floating brake calipers as it uses more pistons and gives much better performance.


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Can A Brake Caliper Go Bad?

Yes, it can. 

Your vehicle needs servicing on the braking system from time to time, even if it is well maintained. When you press the brakes, you may find heat-dissipating when the car slows down. 

So, even if you don’t press the brake very hard and drive in normal condition, your brake calipers may wear out. Also, your calipers may get damaged if you do not drive your vehicle regularly. 

It can get rusted and contaminate dirt, and the brake fluid may leak. If you find any of the below issues, get your car to the service station and get it repaired.

  • Your brakes are only working when you press them a few times.
  • If you notice brake fluid leaking.
  • You find your car getting pulled from one side when using the brakes.
  • If you hear a grinding noise from the brakes.


What Does Unloaded Brake Caliper Mean


How To Release A Brake Caliper?

Releasing brake caliper pressure is easy, but you need to be careful. Your car’s brakes are very sensitive, and even a small mistake may break down any part and need repairs.

Steps To Release Brake Caliper

#1. Lift Your Vehicle To Remove Wheels 

First, you need to lift your vehicle comfortably and place it on a jack stand. Remove the wheels.

#2. Remove The Brake Pads And Caliper 

Now remove the brake pads and brake caliper. Make sure you do not remove the bolt from the brake hose.

#3. Keep All The Tools Handy To Compress The Piston

Keep all the necessary tools handy to compress the piston. If you have a compressor tool, you can have a look at your vehicle’s instruction manual. And if you will use a G or C clamp, place the jaw at the back of the caliper and tighten it. 

You can now use a wrench to loosen the brake caliper screw and place it in a position so that the bleeder screw is faced up. When you screw the compression tool, you will find the piston will slide back in the caliper, and the brake fluid will get inside the bottle. 

After the piston is compressed, you can remove the tools and add new brake pads to the brake caliper. Just make sure it fits perfectly in the brake rotor.


What Does Unloaded Brake Caliper Mean


#4. Reassemble The Brake Calipers

Now reassemble the brake caliper after compressing the piston. First, assemble the brake pads in the brake caliper and tighten them using screws. 

Test your brake pedals and ensure no air is getting inside the brake fluid. You can now put back your wheels and remove the jack stand. 


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A Few Final Words

A proper brake system helps the driver control the vehicle while driving and is an important safety feature. So it is essential to know about the brake calipers as it will help you choose the right type of calipers for your vehicle. 

A loaded brake caliper comes with pre-installed tools, while with an unloaded brake caliper, you will have to buy the necessary hardware and tools separately. 

Thank you for reading the article, we hope that we covered all your questions. If you still have doubts, please write to us and we will try to answer your queries.

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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