Difference Between Loaded And Unloaded Brake Calipers : You Should Know

Brake calipers are an intrinsic part of the braking mechanism of a car. A brake caliper can come either loaded or unloaded. A loaded brake caliper would come with all the necessary hardware alongside the caliper. An unloaded caliper, on the other hand, only gives you the caliper.

In this article, we will discuss the difference between loaded and unloaded brake calipers in more detail.

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What Is The Difference Between Loaded And Semi-loaded Brake Calipers?


We have already mentioned what a loaded caliper is. A loaded caliper would come installation-ready. It will have mounting hardware and brake pads. A semi-loaded brake caliper, on the contrary, comes with the caliper, piston, and the mounting hardware. It will not include brake pads, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

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When you are buying loaded calipers, you have no option to choose the brake pads. A semi loaded caliper or an unloaded caliper would allow you to customize your brake pads. The opportunity to buy separate brake pads enables you to select brake pads that are more appropriate considering your driving conditions and friction requirements.

What Is Loaded And Unloaded Caliper?

Again, a loaded caliper is a comprehensive set of tools that would allow you to install the caliper as soon as you unbox it. An unloaded caliper means a caliper-only package. Unlike semi-loaded calipers, you will not get the supporting gear for mounting the caliper. You will have to buy all these components separately.

What Is Not Included With An Unloaded Caliper?

An unloaded caliper would only contain the caliper and piston. You would have to buy the brake pads, caliper pins, bleeder screws, and other installation gears separately. An unloaded caliper is more economical and lets you customize your brake system to a greater extent. The brake pads are the most significant absentees from the package.

Does The Position Of Brake Calipers Matter?

Yes, it does. You might notice that the positioning of brake calipers varies from vehicle to vehicle. This is done to complement the design of the automobile and maximize braking performance. The positioning of calipers could make the brakes easier to bleed. It is also crucial to lower the center of gravity and optimize the weight distribution of the car.

For this reason, you would not commonly notice 6’o clock and 12’ o clock caliper locations in brakes. A 6’o clock lowers the center of gravity and offers better weight distribution, but it opens up the brake to collect more debris. It is also not a maintenance-friendly design. A 12’o clock position, on the other hand, is detrimental to both weight distribution and bleeding.

Learn more about how long a brake caliper last in our another article.

Heat dissipation is also an issue to consider here. When the brakes come into play and halt the movement of the vehicle, it generates some heat because of the friction. Proper brake caliper-positioning is essential for the heat to disperse suitably. The wrongful placement could also result in the calipers interfering with the suspension system.

Final Say

Learning the difference between loaded and unloaded brake calipers would help you make an educated decision on choosing the right type of caliper for your vehicle. A loaded caliper is ready for a comprehensive brake job, but an unloaded one would require more accessories before being deployed.

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