How To: Tell How Many Pistons are in a Brake Caliper

How to tell how many pistons are in vehicle's brake calipers

How To Tell How Many Pistons My Brake Calipers Have?


Quite frequently our Brake Finder will ask “how many pistons do the front/rear calipers have?”. Don’t worry! You probably don’t even have to take off your wheel to find the answer. Modern Vehicles typically have open-wheel designs to make it easy to visually confirm how many pistons the calipers have. Generally, on 1 and 2 piston sliding calipers, you can frequently see “arches” on the face of a caliper. If you count the arches, you can usually tell how many pistons are in the caliper. 4 and 6 piston calipers are a little more tricky but you can still usually see the outline of the 2 or 3 outboard pistons.

Single (1) Piston calipers are always sliding calipers that move slightly as the brake pads wear. Most have a bracket. However, on some applications, the bracket is built into the knuckle of the vehicle. Also, some rear single piston calipers have a mechanism on the back for the parking brake.

 

 

Dual (2) Piston Calipers are usually sliding calipers with brackets, but some 2 piston calipers are fixed position with opposing pistons – one on the inboard and one on the outboard side.

 

 

4 Piston Calipers are almost always going to have 2 inboard and 2 outboard opposing pistons. 4 piston calipers are usually a fixed position design. This means you won’t see the bracket surrounding the caliper as in the 2-piston caliper above. Instead of seeing two ‘arches’, you will see 2 general outlines of the 2 outboard pistons.

 

 

6 Piston Calipers usually feature 3 inboard and 3 outboard opposing pistons. They are almost always fixed position calipers without a bracket, similar to the 4 piston design. On 6 Piston Calipers, you will usually be able to see the outlines of the 3 pistons on the outboard side of the caliper.




If you have any questions you can always reach out to our tech team (tech@powerstop.com) and they should be able to assist figuring this out.

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