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Different Ways to Add (red/other) Color to (Classic Models S/X) Brake Calipers

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Please participate in a poll (here) about what changes, if
any, you have made to your original Tesla brake calipers.


How did brightly-colored brake calipers highlighting spoke-alloy wheels come about?​

AMC Pacer Front Disk Brake & Suspension System

The Age-Old Question:"Should I paint my calipers?"

Although nascent versions appeared in the very early 1900s, automotive disc brakes started to become more commonplace starting in the 1940s through the 1960s (e.g., see article by Hemmings). Alloy wheels had their origins in the 1920s, but reached a peak of popularity in the 1980s (Diamond Alloys). Brembo claims to be the first brake retailer to offer customers painted calipers (in the early 1990s). Custom-car/bike builders and do-it-yourselfers had probably been chroming/painting calipers well before that.

With the idea perhaps borrowed from high-performance/exotic ICE cars, Tesla put distinctive red calipers on its "Performance" Models S and X. In addition, from 2016-2019 Tesla offered “Red Brake Caliper Sets" as optional accessories for certain Models S and X (that lacked them). Today, Tesla owners have a variety of ways to add color to brake calipers. These include the following options:

Options for Adding Red (or other colors) to Classic Tesla Models S/X (2012-2021) Brake Calipers​


ABS .................................. Anti-Lock Braking System (Wagner)
Brembo .......................... Italian Brake manufacturer (supplier of Tesla OEM brakes)
DIY ................................... Do It Yourself
ICE .................................... Internal Combustion Engine
LR ..................................... "Long Range" or any non-Performance brake (that came with gray calipers)
Mando ............................ Korean Brake manufacturer (supplier of Tesla OEM brakes)
OEM ................................. Original Equipment Manufacturer
OTC ................................... Over-The-Counter
powder-coating .......... durable color application process: special colored-powder is electrostatically applied to surfaces, then oven-cured
TPC .................................. Tesla online Parts Catalog
TSCs ................................ Tesla Service Centers

Option Number​
Install genuine Tesla factory "Performance" red brakes​
● authentic OEM appearance/quality/function
● durable OEM coating
● all pertinent caliper surfaces coated
Powder-coat brakes​
● possibly save money
● range of colors available
● authentic appearance/quality/function
● durable like-OEM coating
● all pertinent caliper surfaces coated
● may last longer than (some) paints
Polymer coat brakes​
● thin coating, so less heat retention
● no thickness-related impact to fit or moving parts
● baked on for durability
● protective
● if prepped properly, does not remove anodized surface layer
● may also last longer than (some) paints
Paint brakes off the car​
● ranges from DIY OTC products to industrial processes
● costs/results can vary widely--from economical DIY to OEM duplication
● primers and clear-coats can be used
● can approach/match authentic appearance/quality
● durable epoxy finishes available
● if calipers are disassembled, all pertinent surfaces can be painted
Paint brakes on the car​
● quicker, easier, less expensive
● does not require that brakes lines be disconnected
● can be done by professional or DIY-er
● durable (epoxy) liquid paint can be brushed on...
● ...or spray paint can be used
Install third-party caliper covers​
● easy
● may be less expensive
● different materials (e.g., aluminum, plastics) available

More About Options (substitute in desired color for "red" for coated or painted calibers)
  1. Remove Existing (gray) Brakes and Install Genuine Tesla 'Performance' Red Brakes
    • Either new or used brakes may theoretically be installed. In reality it can now be difficult/expensive to find new brakes, as Tesla Service Centers may not now sell performance brakes for non-performance cars (despite having done so for several years).
    • The Tesla online Parts Catalog lists various Brembo and Mando brakes for 2015-2021 Model X cars, but frustratingly fails to differentiate among parts--i.e., reveal how to identify precisely which part is intended for which model-year-variation.
    • 2015-2021 Model X brake part numbers are often shared with Model S (2012-2021). Helpfully, the Model S parts lists at least divide some brake parts into 2012-2016 and 2016-2021 groupings.
    • Separate (small, fifth & sixth) parking brake calipers were present (at right and left rear wheels) in some model-years; not in others. (Perhaps when Tesla switched to Mando rear brakes?)
    • As far as I know (please correct if in error), 2012-2021 Models S and X performance (red) and non-performance (gray) brake sets did not differ functionally (e.g., in size or strength). I.e., differences between the two at any particular point in time were purely cosmetic, I believe.
    • If buying new brakes, something apparently to watch out for are fake (especially Brembo) brake calipers. Counterfeit brakes are potentially dangerous. (Not sure if it's a real problem for Tesla cars, however.)
  2. Remove Existing (gray) Brakes, Powder-Coat non-Performance Tesla (gray) Brakes, and Install (newly coated) Red Brakes
    • Existing, purchased-new, or purchased-used brakes may be used.
    • Though initially more expensive, there are advantages to purchasing a (second) set of (new/used) brakes. For example, the car is available for use while the brakes are being coated. And there is no need to coordinate powder-coating operations with installation. Once removed the original brakes can be saved or sold (perhaps after being powder-coated, also?) to help recover costs.
    • It may be easier and less expensive to find/purchase new or low-mileage non-Performance (gray) calipers that fully match existing brakes.
    • Wider range of colors than newer coating procedure.
    • More durable and longer-lasting (than most paints).
    • If proper materials and methods used, results probably duplicate or approach factory finish.
  3. Remove Existing (gray) Brakes, Polymer-Coat non-Performance (gray) Brakes, and install (newly coated) Red Brakes
    • Relatively new technology (for brake calipers).
    • Advantages as for Option 2.
    • Very thin coating of Polymer, so less likely to trap heat.
    • No thick-coating-related problems (fit; function).
  4. Remove Existing (gray) Brakes, Paint non-Performance Tesla (gray) Brakes, and install (newly painted) Red Brakes
    • Comments as for Option 2 (above).
    • Painting can be performed by professional or DIYer (for savings).
    • Brakes can be fully disassembled (to fully clean, and for the most complete, professional result; see Option 2), or not (to save time, money, effort).
    • Temperature-tolerant paints and "Tesla" decals available.
    • "How To" videos available online.
    • Most/all surfaces can be painted.
    • Sensitive areas and surfaces on brakes and the car can be avoided.
    • Liquid (Epoxy) Paint
      • Brushed on; with practice perhaps easier to control (no over-spray).
      • More durable (uses hardener).
    • Spray Paint
      • Can take your time; no time-sensitive hardener.
      • Can improve results by thorough cleaning and use of good quality, high-temperature primer, paint, and clear-coat.
  5. Paint Existing (gray) Brakes Red While On The Car
    • See pertinent comments under Option 3.
    • Brakes need not be removed or disassembled, saving time and money.
    • Can reach most surfaces visible from outside the wheel.
  6. Install Third-Party Caliber Covers
    • Convenient and relatively inexpensive.
    • Various materials are used for covers (e.g., metal or plastic).

Photo Gallery​

Aftermarket Aluminum Brake Caliber Covers
Tesla Model X Mando M12 Rear Brake
How to ID Mando & Brembo Tesla Brakes

Tesla Advertised Models S&X Red Brake Package
Tesla Model X Brembo Front Brake
Tesla Model S Performance Brembo (front) & Mando (rear) Brake Set

Used Tesla Brembo Performance Calliper
Tesla Used Brembo Performance Brake
Tesla Model S Front (Brembo) Brakes

Full Disclosure

I have no vested interest in and am receiving no compensation from any Tesla-related, automotive, or other business. As an Tesla owner/customer I am potentially interested in coloring my calibers; that's it. This post is, in part, intended to help me figure out the best way to do that.
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With all the research required to write this extensive post, you still don't know?
  • There's no reason to replace existing brakes unless you're going to track your car, then you'd want a pro to do it. Removing them will require bleeding the system, which is more work.
  • That leaves paint them yourself or
  • Pay someone to paint them or
  • Wrap them. (I tried that once, ripped the material, then went on to paint them. As soon as it ripped, I didn't have enough material.)
Painting a lighter color like yellow or lime, will probably take twice as many coats as red.

You can find decals on eBay, possibly Amazon, to make it look factory. I didn't have good luck adding a clear coat on top of the decal (the paint bubbled and I had to start over), but found that adding the decal when the paint is mostly dry, but a little tacky, was good enough to make it permanent.

I painted my '12 Volt, & '18 LR 3 with Duplicolor Caliper Paint. My Tesla calipers were painted red, then yellow, which as I said, took a LOT of paint. Although I did not disassemble my brakes to paint them, I've seen excellent results with sprayed parts, giving professional results. This requires removing the caliper from the disc, and masking anywhere you don't want paint, but gives you professional results. This would be an excellent time to do annual disk maintenance (cleaning off rust and lubrication) of the brake pads. Lots of YT videos on how to do that.
Just my 2 cents from painting calipers for my past 2 BMWs and now our MS and MX. For the bimmers, I use to remove wheels, mask everything up, brake cleaner then 1. Primer 2. 4 coats of high temp engine spray paint 3. Gloss coat. It was the fastest and best looking method bc the results were nice and even. After a year or so, you can see random chips from the road which I'd touch up. Recently with the teslas, put car on 4 stands, remove and clean everything and 1. 4 coats of G2 brush on paint 2. 1 coat gloss. It's almost impossible to get the coats as smooth as spray since you're using a brush but from a few feet away, it's hardly noticeable. I highly recommend using a few brushed, like 1 for each coat to avoid clumps. It's been 1 yr for the MS and no chips so far so the G2 paint is def more durable than spray. Best way obviously is powdercoat but you have to remove calipers and re bleed brakes after.


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