Loaded calipers provide a variety of benefits when doing brake jobs on customers' vehicles. Most brake suppliers have a loaded caliper program today so availability is seldom an issue. If price becomes a hurdle, that's when it's time to inform your customers of the features and benefits of loaded calipers.
One of the advantages for the vehicle owner is that loaded caliper assemblies help restore the brakes to like-new condition. Not only do they get new friction, but also a professionally remanufactured caliper and properly matched hardware. This significantly reduces the risk of future leaks developing, and uneven braking or pad wear caused by calipers hanging up or dragging.
Caliper piston seals don't last forever, and once they start to leak it's the end of the road for the caliper and the pads. Fluid leaks are dangerous because they can lead to a loss of hydraulic pressure that may cause the brakes to fail. Brake fluid leaking from a caliper can also contaminate the brake linings and cause them to grab.
A caliper may also have to be replaced if it's sticking. Internal corrosion can cause pistons to jam or freeze, preventing the caliper from working normally or releasing completely. External corrosion on the caliper mounts, bushings or slides can also cause problems by preventing a floating caliper from moving normally when the brakes are applied. The result here may be uneven pad wear, uneven braking, dragging or a pull. With a loaded caliper, the caliper is replaced along with the pads.
When it comes to calipers, it's generally a reman product. There are top-quality remanufacturers that are QS-9000 certified and turn out reman products that are just as good as many brand-new parts. Their prices may be 20-40 percent less than a comparable OEM part, and they typically offer warranties ranging from one year up to a limited-lifetime warranty.
There are also bargain-priced, low quality remanufacturers. Their prices are extremely competitive, but they may provide nothing more than a short-lived cheap fix. Warranties typically range from 30 to 90 days at most. These kinds of parts might be okay for a do-it-yourselfer who has a very limited budget, or somebody who is fixing a car or truck so he can sell it, but these "second line" reman parts may be no bargain for professional installers who take a chance on them.
The issue of quality is an important one for you because comebacks can really hurt your business as well as your reputation. If a reman part fails, your customer will blame you - not the parts supplier. After all, you were the one who recommended the part. Comebacks like these not only cost you the goodwill of your customers, they can also hit you hard in the pocketbook - even if your supplier offers you a free replacement part because most warranties don't cover installation labor. Who wants to replace the same part twice, but only get paid for the job once?Remanufacturing typically reuses castings and other major components that can be cleaned, remachined and returned to like-new condition. Items that are subject to wear and corrosion such as seals, bushings, caliper and wheel cylinder pistons, valves, bleeder screws, springs, etc., are usually replaced with all-new components. Most quality remanufacturers then test the parts to make sure they function correctly before they are boxed and shipped for distribution.
The bottom line is this: Reman loaded calipers generally provide good value for the money and can lower repair costs when price is an issue. So if your customer chooses to install reman loaded calipers, recommend a supplier that has a good reputation and stands behind its products.