How To Compress Brake Calipers? The easiest way

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In today’s article, we will show you how to compress brake calipers. If you are reading this article, then chances are you have stumbled upon a resilient brake caliper while attempting a brake job. Don’t worry! We all have had to deal with brake calipers that just won’t collapse while working on the brake of a vehicle.

How Do You Compress A Rear Brake Caliper? 

The front and rear caliper pistons are not the same. You can compress the front caliper brake pistons with a C-clamp, for example, and they would neatly retract. However, you would have to rethink your approach for working on rear brake calipers, because of its dissimilarities with front brake calipers.


The rear brake caliper pistons are not flat, they have indentations on the inside. This particular design attribute makes them compatible with dowel rods. You can put a dowel rod and use it counterclockwise to compress it. A flat-head screwdriver or pair of vise grips would also get the job done if you don’t have dowel rods around.

How Do You Compress A Screw On A Caliper Piston?

Some brake calipers have pistons that need to be screwed in, instead of being compressed. You would have to use a caliper piston tool to do so. Mount the adapter plate that matches the caliper pistons of your vehicle. This means the dowel pins on the adapter must fit in the holes of the caliper pistons.


Before you start, take off the brake fluid reservoir cap. You have to do this to keep an eye on the brake fluid level so that it does not spill as you compress a screw on the piston. Assemble the caliper piston kit and mount the screw on top of it. Then slowly rotate it inside the piston slot and keep on doing so until it gets set.

Can You Use a C-Clamp To Compress A Brake Caliper? 

Yes, you can compress a brake caliper using a C-clamp. Place the clamp on the piston and push it into place. However, this is not a universal process. Some calipers need to be screwed in, instead of being thrust in. For those types of brake calipers, you would have to use a different type of tool.

How Do You A Compress A Caliper Piston Without A Tool?

You can use a pair of vise grips to compress a caliper if you don’t have the compressor tool. The problem with this method is, it does not give you the same grip on the caliper as the tool does. The vise grips would often slip out of place. In that case, you would have to stop, recalibrate, and push again. It might take a bit longer, but the calipers would go right in eventually.

What Do You Do If Your Brake Caliper Won’t Compress?

If the caliper refuses to compress, then look for a circular slot in your caliper where you can fit a C-clamp and put an even pressure on the piston. In doing so, the piston should retract. If you feel that you can’t put consistent pressure this way, you can use two C-clamps in reverse positions and use them simultaneously to compress the pistons.

Learn from our blog how long do a brake caliper last.

Final Say

Knowing how to compress brake calipers is mandatory to do basic brake maintenance. Thankfully, getting the hang of it is not much difficult.

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