Brakes and brake maintenance are necessary, but also quite a topic of discussion and dissension among Porsche owners. Here we are presenting some information that we have, but we also invite comments to help out other 944 owners with brake problems.
If you own a 944 or 924S and have tried to find rebuilt brake calipers in the past year, you may have noticed a problem. There aren’t any. Go ahead and check…we’ll wait.
See? Everyone is out of stock at the moment, with no idea when there will be more available. Those that do show a listing also show that the core charge is sometimes over a hundred bucks. Ridiculous, but it tells a story.
Here at 924S944.com, we have a theory – there are no cores, so therefore no rebuilt calipers. Unfortunately, you cannot print out calipers on your 3-D printer – at least, not yet. Until that happens, there will be few calipers at the auto supply store.
We depend on Automobile Atlanta for many of the hard-to-find stuff. You have some choices there for calipers, so we shopped the left front just for reference:
- Factory new replacement caliper from the dealer, through AA – $446.47.
- Rebuilt caliper, $185 plus $150 for the core.
- Used caliper, $82.50.
So a new set of four calipers is going to touch two thousand dollars, but if you want to settle for rebuilts, it will cost you close to $800. IF you can get them.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The front calipers from a 1980-1986 Peugeot 505 are the same unit. No one has those, either. And the rear calipers are strictly Porsche.
HOWEVER, the rebuild kits for front and rear are available from most online suppliers and your local auto parts stores for reasonable prices – normally less than $10 a wheel. “But I can’t rebuild a caliper! I don’t know how!” Well, stop crying – there are tons of videos on YouTube that can show you – and it’s not difficult.
The rebuild kit consists of a large seal for inside the bore of the caliper – where the piston goes. There are two plastic pieces for the slides, with a rubber cover that seals dirt from the caliper to the piston and a steel ring to hold it on…that’s it.
To use the rebuild kit, you need a couple of essential tools. First is a brake hone. This goes on the end of the drill and cleans the bore of the cylinder in the caliper. First you clean it out as best you can, then run the brake hone with a little brake fluid to get the surface nice and smooth. You will also need access to a fine-grade wire wheel on a grinder to clean the piston and other surfaces on the caliper. I have done some rebuilds recently on calipers that have been sitting for a while, and they get a buildup of dried brake fluid and other unidentifiable substances, as well as rust on the end that is open to the air. A very light cleaning with a fine wire wheel fixes all.
Once all cleaned and blown out with compressed air, all you do is reassemble. Remember that when you put the piston back into the bore, lube it with a little brake fluid. DO NOT use oils or other sprays to lube the bore – they will contaminate the brake fluid that you will be putting in.
Then there are the various clips and pins and such – the brake caliper hardware. These kits service one axle, and there was a time recently when these were available in the aftermarket for less than $20. However, the aftermarket kits seem to have dried up, so the only source is Porsche…at better than $75 an axle. So be careful with the pins and springs and clips – replacing them is expensive. The old pins can be cleaned up with a wire wheel so that they slide in and out easily. And note that the hardware is different between front and rear calipers – not interchangeable.
When rebuilding/replacing calipers on cars that are thirty years old, it is a good idea to spend a few bucks on new flexible brake hoses – two in the front, two in the back. For a street car, it is up to you to decide if you want to go with steel braided lines. Personally, I don’t need $100 worth of hoses on my street car – maybe I’m just cheap.
If you are thinking of replacing your Porsche calipers with something else that may be cheaper, shop around. Wilwood has a big brake kit that replaces the front calipers with four-piston units for about $900. That’s a lot, but these are said to be calibrated to the stock rear calipers for great brakes. And you still have stock rear calipers.
There are other performance brake kits out there – shop online for the best fit and budget for your car. Unfortunately, most of us are going to be rebuilding our old calipers.
Here at 924S944.com, we spent some time recently sorting out old calipers and caliper parts, bagging and labeling everything since these things have become a bit precious. Don’t throw anything away.
Of course, the information provided here can change over time, but this is what we know now in April of 2018.
Kevin Duffy is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Daytona State College in Florida and a dedicated car guy. He divides his time between teaching criminal justice topics in the online environment and working on/driving cars, particularly Porsches. Kevin is one of the principals in InspiringLifeOver50.com.