How do you know when you need rebuilt calipers?

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Doing a front brake job on a 2000 Town & country mini- van with 142,000 miles on it. I do not know any history of the van. I always think I need to put on rebuilt calipers for vehicles this old and this many miles. Am I wasting my money? Thanks!
 

01rangerxl

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Only replace if the caliper has signs of a problem. Aftermarket reman calipers are hastily thrown together by the lowest bidder with varying levels of cleanup/recon and quality of replacement pieces. If your OE calipers are working, stick with them. My truck is approaching 170K on the completely original, unrebuilt calipers and they work fine, and probably will continue to for longer than remans would since the fluid and slide pin grease has been maintained. At that age, I'd be more worried about the hoses, especially if the fluid is nasty.
 
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+1 If the originals are still smooth and not sticking or siezed, there's no good reason to replace them. You could also get new rubber and pistons, if the pistons are scored, and rebuild them yourself. They're pretty simple to take apart and put back together.
 
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You need to rebuild them if you are getting uneven or rapid pad wear and you can't blame it on the pins or hardware. Another reason would be if the piston is really rusty or if it is made of phenolic resin and is cracked or crumbling. Sometimes the bores that the pins fit into wear and cause the calipers to make a traka-traka-traka noise when driving with the brakes released. The best way to rectify this is to install a new or rebuilt caliper. Most calipers have a square section o-ring which deforms when the brakes are applied and pulls the piston and pad a fraction of a millimeter away from the disc when the brakes are released. This o-ring gets rounded over and less effective with time, which can cause faster pad wear and lower gas mileage.
 
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Evaluate the current one, don't just throw parts at it. I'm still on the original ones on my car with over 200k. Most of it was highway miles so even though a car has 200k, it probably doesn't have as much brake usage as a car driven in the city for 200k.
 
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I do it when the bleeder screw shears off. The caliper for my firebird was literally $9. approved
 
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Fronts on my Jetta are original, but I suspect the bleeder wont move next time I touch them. 311kmiles, eleven years and on its third set of pads. Rears, those calipers have always needed replacing when pads are due. Won't know until you try to push the piston back.
 
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