Bracketed Vs. Unbracketed Brake Calipers? KEY Differences

You’ll need a stationary object to stop your automotive without brake calipers. You may end up with broken limbs or lose your life – depending on the speed of your car. Brake calipers act like clamps when you step on the brake pedal. They hold the brake pads and press them on the spinning metal rotor.

There are different types of callipers. Here, we will highlight the bracketed and unbracketed calipers. You’ll see the difference and advantages of each over the other. The knowledge you’ll gain will help you drive your car more confidently. Also, you’ll know when to change the calipers or service them.

Bracketed Calipers

Bracketed calipers are mounted on the steering knuckle. They act as the stopping surface for the brake pads and their mounting device. Thus, they are compatible with the brake abutment and steering knuckle.

Unbracketed Calipers

Unbracketed calipers are part of a braking system devoid of a sliding piston. They offer excellent performance and are more expensive than bracketed calipers. However, they are compatible with a few high-end car models.Bracketed Vs. Unbracketed Brake Calipers

Similarities of Bracketed and Unbracketed Calipers

Calipers have several differences. However, there are notable similarities worth mentioning. All calipers attach to the spinning metal rotor on the wheel. Their work is to press the brake pads on the metal rotor like a clamp and regulate the car’s motion.

All brake calipers have moving parts. They can fail and endanger your life and that of other road users. Also, if the brakes fail to work when the car is stationary for a long time, you won’t be able to move the vehicle.

Their Differences

You can tell apart the bracketed and unbracketed calipers through their differences. Although there are many, we will focus on the main differences in the table below.


Bracketed Calipers

Unbracketed Calipers

Installation Easy installation process Hard installation process
Durability Long lifespan Short lifespan
Working Mechanism They guide caliper pin slides within the bore They lack pins in the bolts that attach to the brake
Price Difference Cheap Expensive
Safety and Protection They have many safety and protection features Have few protection features but with high performance.
Compatibility Compatible with most car models Compatible with high-end cars


There’s a vast difference in the installation of unbracketed and bracketed calipers.

If you observe the bracketed calipers, you’ll notice that they have two pieces of slider pins. They also have brackets that attach to the suspension. A flat screwdriver is enough to install the calipers on the heel. All you need is to grab the slider pins on both sides simultaneously. Then, fit them through the hole and pop them out.

You continue with the process through reverse installation. Repeat the process in reverse order to attach the calipers well to the wheel. The pins are reusable, and you can use them for years. You’ll only need to replace them if their two pieces separate or the rubber wears down.

Removing the calipers is as easy as pulling out the slider pins. They have a more straightforward setup compared to the unbracketed calipers.

For the unbracketed calipers, you’ll install them on the wheel without the slider pins. It makes them difficult to install. Also, you’ll need pad installation hardware and rear parking installation hardware to complete the installation.


You can reuse the slide pins in the bracketed brake calipers for several years. It means that these brake calipers have a long lifespan. Thus, the bracketed brake calipers are more durable than unbracketed ones. A study shows that some ford models released between 2002 and 2004 have fewer brake problems.

Unbracketed brake calipers work with the help of several pistons found in the outboard and inboard valves. It makes the caliper subject to wear, and you may need to replace it every three months with average vehicle use. The time may be longer or shorter depending on the car usage. Thus, they are unreliable and expensive to maintain.

Working Mechanism

Both types of calipers work towards shopping the vehicle’s movement. However, the working mechanism differs. The bracketed brake calipers are the stopping surface for the brake system – they are compatible with the brake support and the automobile’s steering knuckle. Bracketed calipers guide the pin slides within the bore. Also, you can use the slide pins to mount the bakes permanently or remove them.

Unbracketed calipers make up a vital part of the braking system. You won’t need pins to bolt them onto the brake system. Also, they rotate with the metal rotor onto which they are connected and act as clamps when the pressure hits the brake pedals.

Price Difference

Most car models need bracketed brake calipers. Although their demand is high, their supply is also high. Thus, the bracketed brake calipers are cheaper compared to unbracketed brake calipers. You can find them in a price range of $25-$60.

On the other hand, the unbracketed brake caliper’s price ranges between $40 and $75. Also, the unbracketed calipers need frequent replacement. It adds to the final cost of brake calipers. Thus, people prefer car models compatible with bracketed brake calipers as their maintenance cost is lower.

Safety and Protection

Bracketed calipers have plenty of safety and protection features. The features protect the calipers from wear. They include a rubber boot that prevents water and salt from entering the brake system.

Thus, the brake system won’t deteriorate or bind due to salt and water when the car is in use. They also have pins and slides that act as clamps when there’s pressure on the brake pedal—the clap presses against the rotor.

The brake caliper disk has a pad on one side and a piston on the other. The pads are on the side that presses against the wheel – The slide pins have a broad and a narrow side but can go either way.

Also, the brake and mount have broad and narrow sides. However, they can pop out if installed the wrong way. It’s probably the only risk you have when using bracketed brake calipers. You can clean, re-lube, and examine these brake calipers without removing them.

Unbracketed calipers don’t have any hardware. Thus, they lack protection against wear and tear. They will have 2, 4, 6, or 8 pistons and offer high performance compared to bracketed calipers.

That’s why they are only used in high-performance cars.


As stated earlier, the bracketed brake calipers will fit most vehicle models. This is because they are durable and easy to install. Thus, the calipers are installed on several ordinary cars, trucks, and lorries.

Unbracketed brake calipers are useful in high-performance cars. The 1991 Dodge Spirit R/T Twin Turbo is a perfect model that uses unbracketed brake calipers.

How to Boost the Braking System of Your Vehicle

Your vehicle’s braking system is one of the most important safety features. It is responsible for stopping your vehicle when you need to. However, over time, your brakes can become less effective. This can be due to wear and tear, or because of a build-up of dirt and grime on the braking components. There are a few things that you can do to boost the performance of your brakes and keep them in good condition.

Check the Brake Pads

One of the first things that you should check is the brake pads. These are located between the brake caliper and the brake disc. Over time, they can become worn down, which will reduce their effectiveness. If they are more than 50% worn, then you will need to replace them.

Clean the Brake Components

Another thing that you can do is clean the brake components. This includes the brake pads, caliper, and disc. You can use a brake cleaner to remove any dirt and grime that has built up on these parts. This will help to improve the performance of your brakes.

Bleed the Brakes

Bleeding the brakes is another way to boost performance. This involves removing air from the brake lines. To do this, you will need to use a special bleeder tool. Once the air is removed, your brakes will be able to work more effectively.

Adjust the Brake Calipers

If your brake calipers are not properly aligned, then this can also affect the performance of your brakes. You can adjust the calipers so that they are correctly positioned. This is a simple adjustment that you can do yourself.

Check the Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is another important component of the braking system. It helps to transfer force to the brakes. Over time, brake fluid can become contaminated and will need to be replaced. You should check the level of your brake fluid regularly and top it up if necessary.


Bracketed and unbracketed brake calipers have more differences than similarities. However, they all serve one purpose stopping a moving vehicle.

The unbracketed calipers are useful in high-performance cars. Just like the cars, they are more expensive than their counterparts. Also, they wear out within a short time, shooting up the cost of maintenance.

On the other hand, bracketed calipers are common in most car models. They are durable and produced in masses. Thus, they are cheap to buy and maintain.

They also have several safety features that protect the braking system and the vehicle. They are also easy to install – if you love handy work, you can install them following an installation manual.

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