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I have a set of STI brake calipers that I'm interested in refinishing. From the factory, they come with a black finish and white lettering. What is the best way to remove the existing finish so that I can repaint them how I want?

2014 STI Calipers

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    Technically you don't need to strip the paint completely, paint adheres to other paint well. Just make sure to rough the surface up a little. – I have no idea what I'm doing Jul 4 '16 at 9:31
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    @IhavenoideawhatI'mdoing: This turned out to be the correct answer. – Ellesedil Jul 11 '16 at 17:25
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I sent a web "contact us" form to Brembo through their website around the same time that I asked this question. They appear to have forwarded it to an account manager at Race Techonolgies, LLC based in Irvine, California which is an official Brembo partner. The account manager sent me a response just today, a week after I sent my request.

Brembo calipers are painted and Brembo does NOT recommend powder-coating them. Powder-coating does soften the aluminum of the caliper defeating the stiffness engineered into the special aluminum that Brembo uses. Also, when a Brembo caliper is done with the machining at the factory, the caliper gets anodized internally and externally. The anodizing then gets painted. In order to powder-coat the caliper you not only have to remove the paint but the protective anodizing as well. This is when the additional damage can take place as it requires extensive bead/sand blasting to not only remove the paint but the anodizing as well.

I recommend you take your calipers to a high quality auto body shop for painting. I have attached painting instructions that our technical department put together for you to give them. FYI, never separate the caliper halves! The two internal seals are very hard to come by and are not readily available.

From the painting instructions attachment, here are additional details in terms of preparing the calipers for finishing:

Parts to remove: Remove pads, pad pins, pad springs and rubber bleeder caps only. No other parts should be removed.

Preparation: Caliper finish should not be stripped or removed. Only painted surfaces should be lightly sanded and repainted. All other areas that are metal or anodized (silver or black) finish need to be taped off.

This is about as definitive of an answer I could have hoped for.

  • Absolutely a great follow-up. Thanks for sharing. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jul 11 '16 at 17:44
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    I'm surprised they were so helpful! Makes me love Brembo more than I already do. Thanks for posting this! – DucatiKiller Jul 11 '16 at 19:24
  • Indeed, surprisingly helpful. Though I don't really get how powder coating softens aluminium... – I have no idea what I'm doing Jul 12 '16 at 14:40
  • @IhavenoideawhatI'mdoing: I assume that it depends on the temperature and length of time you bake the powder at. The more heat, the more you're messing with the internal structure of the crystallized alloy. – Ellesedil Jul 12 '16 at 17:06
  • @Ellesedil that might be true, though performance brake calipers probably reach quite severe temperatures during operation, so I'd think they should be heat resistant. – I have no idea what I'm doing Jul 13 '16 at 9:57
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Depending on how these are finished, it may be difficult. It wouldn't surprise me if they are powder coated. To remove powder coatings, you'll have to disassemble and get sandblasted to remove (easiest way to remove powder coating completely). I'd highly recommend you get them powder coated again. Powder coating provides a finish which remains great for a long time to come. Paint has a habit of having to be refinished every couple of years to keep it looking good. To me the extra money in getting it finished this way makes it well worth it.

  • Can you mask things off like the pots and the rubber seals around the pots from the powder coat? – Ellesedil Jul 4 '16 at 14:54
  • To powder coat, you have to completely disassemble and rebuild the caliper. It is a one and done application, though, if you take care of the caliper. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jul 4 '16 at 14:55
  • I was hoping that wouldn't be the case. That's going to be a tall order for me to do myself, so I'll probably have to find someone who can do that. – Ellesedil Jul 4 '16 at 15:38
  • I now have definitive information that the calipers are not powder coated. – Ellesedil Jul 11 '16 at 17:12
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You'll need brake cleaner, a wire brush or scouring pad, and ideally some isopropyl alcohol.

Scrub the living crap out of the calipers, down to bare metal if possible, as it'll give the paint something to stick to. Dry off the calipers with the isopropyl alcohol.

With paint, the better you prep the surface, the better the paint will stick and stay.

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    Be careful with the scouring pads. Ensure you get all the residue from it off of the caliper prior to painting. If you don't, it will affect the finish. The pad, being silicon based, will cause all kinds of imperfections in the paint if not cleaned thoroughly. Use something like Prep-All to clean the surface prior. Using the pad will buff the surface really well, giving the paint something to adhere to, though. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jul 4 '16 at 12:59
  • That's where the alcohol and brake clean come in :-) – Nick Jul 4 '16 at 20:34
  • I got that, but alcohol and brake cleaner won't take off the silicon which will screw up a paint job. Prep-All (or the like) takes everything off and leaves the surface ready for primer and paint. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jul 4 '16 at 22:07
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Disassemble the calipers and use chemical paint remover or sandblasting.

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