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Pelican Technical Article:

911 Caliper Rebuild

Bob Tindel


4-5 hours






floor jack, two jack stands, two wheel chocks, lug wrench, safety glasses, pin punch, hammer, turkey baster, needle nose pliers, channel lock pliers, piece of hardwood, Lubro-Moly hi-tack lube spray, torque wrench, notched piece of wood, metric line wrenches, set of metric sockets and metric wrenches, 19mm wrench, 9mm socket, 7mm socket, brake cleaner, compressed air, small flathead, Scotch-Brite pad, screwdriver, shop rags, cut-off old toothbrush, Sil-Glide silicone assembly lube, 20-degree thin sheet metal or cardboard template, brake bleeder system

Applicable Models:

Porsche 911 (1965-89)
Porsche 912 (1965-69)
Porsche 930 Turbo (1976-89)

Parts Required:

Front and rear caliper rebuild kits, brake fluid

Performance Gain:

Brakes that stop your 911 short, straight and true

Complementary Modification:

Replace the brake pads and have the rotors turned or replaced as necessary
Figure 1
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Figure 8
Figure 9
Figure 10
Figure 11
Figure 12
Figure 13
Figure 14
Figure 15
Figure 16
Figure 17
The car used to demonstrate this procedure is Bob Tindel's 1983 911SC, but the procedure is similar for other Porsches.

Before starting, if your brake master cylinder is very full, draw off some of the fluid. When you push back the caliper pistons, if the master cylinder is completely full, it can overflow. BRAKE FLUID DESTROYS PAINT.

Jack up the car, and put it on jack stands. If you don't have four jack stands, you can do one side at a time, but it is a little more time-consuming. You can put one jack stand under each rear torsion bar end cap (Figure 1), and one under each front torsion bar front end cap (Figure 2).

Remove the wheels.

Now you are ready to remove the brake pads. There are two pins holding the pads in each caliper. The front pins have self-retainers, and can simply be tapped out from the outside, using a pin punch or a nail (Figure 3). The retaining pins in the rear calipers have little 'hairpins' in the inboard end of each pin, which must be removed before the pin can be tapped out (Figure 4). After you remove one of the retaining pins, you can take out the brake cross-spring. Note how it fits before removal, so you can get it back in right (Figure 5).

Remove the all of the old pads. If they are stubborn, you may have to push back the piston first. (Figure 6) Disconnect the brake pad sensor wire, if so equipped.

Depress the brake pedal slightly, just to the point where the brakes would be beginning to engage, and block the pedal in this position. This will prevent all of the brake fluid from draining out, and a lot of air getting into the brake system, when you disconnect the caliper lines. I use a piece of wood with a notch in one end and a small square of plywood to protect the seat at the other. With this setup, you can move the driver's seat into position to keep pressure on the brake pedal. (Figure 7)

Unfasten the brake line from the caliper. This is an odd size—11mm. Work carefully so you don't damage the brake line fittings. (Figure 5 again)

Remove the caliper mounting bolts (19mm), and remove the caliper from the car. On the rear calipers, the lower mounting bolt is difficult to access. Working from the top, you can turn it about one flat at a time with a box-end wrench. If you use a socket, be careful it doesn't get trapped—this is a long bolt. (Figure 8)

This is a good time to inspect the brake lines, shock absorbers, and rotors. (Figure 9) If the rotors have severe ridges, or if they are worn below the minimum thickness, they will need to be resurfaced or replaced. The same is true if they are warped or have excessive runout (a symptom of warpage or runout is steering wheel shimmy when you apply the brakes).

Inspect the brake hoses for cracking or leakage, and the shock absorbers for leaks. Any evidence of fluid leakage on the shock absorbers indicates need for replacement.

If the inspection of the rotors, calipers, and brake hoses is satisfactory, proceed with the rebuilding of the calipers. You don't need to disassemble the two caliper halves. You can rebuild the caliper without further disassembly (unless it was leaking at the joint between the two halves). If fully disassembled, it is difficult to get the caliper back together without leaks.

Open the bleed screw (9mm on the front calipers, 7mm on the rear ones), and carefully blow out any brake fluid. Use compressed air at the brake line attachment point. You need only low pressure to do this, 15 psi or so. Be careful where the old brake fluid goes, it will destroy paint (Figure 10).

Clean the outside of the caliper thoroughly, using brake cleaner spray or alcohol.

Now you are ready to begin disassembling the caliper. Remove the dust boot retaining ring and dust boot from one of the pistons by prying it off carefully with a small screwdriver. (Figure 11) Hold the opposing piston in place with a C-clamp, put a piece of wood (3/4 inch or so thickness) in where the brake pad was and blow the first piston out partway with compressed air. Work slowly, increasing pressure until you get the first piston about halfway out. Then change the clamp to the opposite side, remove the other dust boot retaining ring and dust boot, and blow the second piston partway out. The idea is to get both pistons partway out so you can get a grip on them for removal, without blowing either of them all the way out first (if you do blow one all the way out, put it back in so you can get air pressure in the caliper to blow the other one out). The pistons are slippery, so use a shop rag for better grip to finish pulling them out. Don't use any tools on the machined surface of the piston. (Figure 12)

If you can't get the pistons out using air pressure, try remounting the caliper on the car, reconnecting the brake line, and use the brake system itself to force the pistons out.  This is an almost fool-proof method, and a good reason for doing one caliper at a time.

SAFETY NOTE: Keep your fingers out of the caliper at all times when you are using air pressure—it builds up enormous force, and can cause serious injury.

The next step is to remove the old rubber piston seal from each caliper bore. I use a sharp awl to “spear” the seal and pull it out of its groove. Just be careful not to scratch any machined surfaces

Clean the caliper thoroughly, using brake cleaner spray or alcohol.  Be sure to clean the piston and inside of the caliper bore thoroughly.   If the machined surfaces on the piston are heavily rusted or pitted, it must be replaced.  If there is any light surface rust, clean it off gently using a Scotch-Brite pad or fine crocus cloth.  Scrub out the piston seal groove in the caliper bore with a small brush (a cut-off toothbrush works well).

Reassemble the caliper. Begin by lightly coating the caliper bore, piston, and rubber piston seal with silicone assembly lube (such as Sil-Glide, available from NAPA auto parts stores). Don't coat the dust seal. If you can't get silicone lube, coat the parts with clean brake fluid. (Figure 13)

Insert the piston seal into the groove in the caliper bore, and insert the piston. It should slide in a short distance without too much effort. Don't force the piston, and be careful not to get it cocked in the bore. Orient the piston at a 20-degree angle from the top of the brake pad slot in the caliper. This angle is important to keep the brakes from squealing. Use a template, which you can make from thin sheet metal or even cardboard. The template is just a triangle about 4 1/2 inches long with a 20-degree hypotenuse. (Figure 14 and in the drawing below)

After you are sure the piston is going in straight, and is at the correct angle, push it the rest of the way in with a piece of wood. If you get the angle wrong, blow the piston back out, and start again. Check the angle of the piston at least twice before going further. It is frustrating to get a caliper mounted on the car, and then see that the angle of one of the pistons is wrong. Here is the factory manual diagram of how to check the piston angle.

rotor.GIF (22854 bytes)

After making sure the piston angle is correct, install the rubber dust boot and retaining ring. The front caliper pistons should be pushed all the way in before installing the dust boots. On the rear calipers, leave the pistons sticking out about 1/4 inch to make installing the dust boots easier (the boot fits like a turtleneck sweater on the rear pistons). The dust boots should be clean and dry on the outside after you finish installation. Repeat the installation process for the second piston.

Remount the calipers on the car. Check the piston angle one more time. (Figure 15) Torque the caliper mounting bolts to 70 ft/lbs.

Now you are ready to install the brake pads. If you are reusing old pads, make sure the braking surfaces are clean and free from any oil or grease.

Do not use the anti-squeal compound pad from your Friendly Local Auto Parts Store on the back of the brake pads. This stuff turns to glue, and when you need to replace the brake pads again, it will destroy the caliper dust boot when you pull the pads out (don't ask how I know this). Most pads now have an anti-squeal substance already applied at the factory—it looks like a thicker coat of paint. If you are going to use anything on the backs of the pads I recommend a LIGHT coat of Lubro-Moly Hi-Tack Lube Spray. Be careful not to get this stuff on the braking surface of the pads, or on the rotors.

Insert the new pads the same way the old ones came out. Reconnect the sensor wires. Insert one of the retaining pins, taking care that the hole for the “hairpin” in the retaining pins of the rear calipers is accessible. Be sure to tap each pin in until it is fully seated. You should be able to see the end of the pin in its hole on the outside of the caliper. Insert the 'hairpin' into the brake pad retaining pin.

Insert the brake cross spring, and then the second retaining pin and “hairpin”. Make sure that both ends of the brake cross spring engage the retaining pins. The cross spring helps retract the pads, so they don't drag on the rotors when you let off the brakes (Figure 16).

Repeat steps 2-15 for the other three calipers.

You are getting near the end now. Top off the master cylinder. Use only fresh fluid from a sealed container. We recommend a top-quality fluid such as Ate.

Bleed the brakes using your favorite method. I like to start the bleeding process at the wheel furthest from the master cylinder, and finish with the wheel nearest. The important thing after major brake work is to do the entire bleeding process at least twice to get all of the air out of the system. Tapping on each caliper with a mallet can help release trapped air bubbles. When you finish, you should have a hard brake pedal that engages the brakes at 30-50 percent of its travel. You may need to bleed the brakes again after a few days of driving.

Here is a picture of a pressure bleeder I made using the directions at http://www.garageboy.com/bmw/bleeder.html. I bought the parts at REI and a hardware store. My friendly local tire store gave me the valve stems. (Figure 17) It is a neat, clean way to bleed brakes or to pressure-flush all the old fluid out periodically.

If you use a vacuum bleeding system, such as the Mity-Vac, put some heavy grease around the base of each bleeder screw, where it screws into the caliper. Otherwise, it will leak around the bleeder screw, and make it look like there is still air in the system.

Reinstall the wheels. The correct torque for factory alloy wheels and alloy lug nuts is 95 ft/lbs.

Give yourself a big pat on the back—you just saved several hundred dollars in labor (try calling a Porsche dealer and get an estimate on rebuilding your brake system. The quote I got for this work was $2,433, “assuming your rotors are good”).

CAUTION: New brake pads require a break-in period. Until they are broken in, braking efficiency is reduced. Apply the brakes gently during break-in to increase the life of pads and rotors.

It is a good practice to flush and bleed the entire brake system at least every two years. Brake fluid absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, and over time can cause expensive parts to rust beyond repair.

Call our Parts Department at 1-888-280-7799 and we will fix you up with the best brake parts for your use—street or track (and some fresh brake fluid if you need it).

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Comments and Suggestions:
David Comments: My 1967 912 calipers are a frozenseized.How do I dislodge the pistons?


David Trower
August 17, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: You can try compressing them further into the caliper to break them free. Once free, use the mthod shown with compressed air.- Nick at Pelican Parts  
arknjl007 Comments: i also am looking for a o-ring part # as i have calipers on my 911 all in pieces...ANYONE???? neeed those o-rings for frony and back calipers....also plastic bushings 2 that are on the outside of the transmission wherer the long throw out arm is.... many thanks from my porsche friends... helping me "" get her on the road !!!! or call michael 808-346-5493... i will be posting parts i need as i dismantel / investigate my car in the re-build / ressurection on this 82' 911 porsche....oh boy !~!!~
June 29, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: This might be the part number you are looking for: 901-351-964-11-M4

To be sure it is right, give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need. - Nick at Pelican Parts
November 20, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: This part does not show up as available. This would make me think it is part of the caliper and not serviceable. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
1-ev.com Comments: Hey Guys,
I've posted this question on Pelican forum and guys gave me GREAT advices here: http://forums.pelicanparts.com/porsche-911-technical-forum/634212-s-caliper-rebuild-question.html

Thank you.
Hope it helps others
October 17, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
1-ev.com Comments: My S-Caliper has a plate witch connects brake line to the caliper and it looks like it bolted with 4 bolts see arrows to the caliper with the possible O-Ring GASKET inside. My question is what is the part number for this O-Ring GASKET?
The ATE Rebuild Kit 901-351-998-00-M4 DOES NOT include it.
Thank you.
October 11, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: This part does not show up as available. This would make me think it is part of the caliper and not serviceable. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
KAT Comments: do they make new calipers for a 1967 911S
October 7, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Yes, we sell them here: https://www.pelicanparts.com/catalog/shopcart/911E/POR_911E_BRKhyd_pg1.htm#item3 - Nick at Pelican Parts  
ex968bloke Comments: if you've done a complete strip of the brake system and can't get the pistons out try a high pressure grease gun with a suitable grease nipple in place of the brake pipe, this will apply a lot more pressure than an air line, mine would'nt budge with 100psi on it!
April 27, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: How are you cleaning the grease out of the caliper once done? Hot tank? That info would be helpful to the group.

Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts

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