Paint Safely and Getting a Preview

As always, make sure you're working in a clean, well ventilated place. Any dust or dirt in the air can wind up drifting into your wet paint. Plus, the fumes from any aerosol paint can be dangerous if you inhale them. And brake dust is really dangerous -- it contains asbestos. Whatever you do, don't skip the dust mask.

How exactly is this going to look? You might want to check the Web. Numerous car enthusiasts post photos of their custom jobs at forums such as Torque Cars. 

Cleaning and Painting Brake Calipers

First, park your car, set the emergency brake and lift the car securely on your floor jack or jack stands. Remove the wheels.

If you're removing the calipers, now's the time to do that. You'll need to drain the brakes. Take care not to put any strain on the brake lines. Suspend the calipers on coat hangers.

Now, the single most important step: Clean, clean, clean. You can't get a smooth finish unless you start with a smooth surface. Get the calipers as clean as possible -- no traces of dirt or grease. Start with the wire brush. Then try the solvent [source: Neal]. Don't use the power drill after the solvent. The solvent is flammable, and the drill can give off sparks. Also, don't get solvent on the brake lines or cylinders. It will damage them.

Use the wire brush to remove the major debris. Then go after the nooks and crannies with your sandpaper and toothbrush. Wipe everything down with a paper towel. Spray on a lot of brake cleaner, and scrub it off. Any dirt left? Try your grease-removing soap.

If you're painting over existing paint, your cleaning job is easier. Scuff the old paint with the abrasive pad until it's completely dull. Then spray on the brake cleaner.

Next, use your drop cloth and tape to mask all the parts of the car -- and the workspace -- that you don't want to paint. Remember, this is especially important with spray paint.

If you're using non-spray paint, now's the time to mix your colors and stir in the reactor. Adding the reactor means you're on a time budget. The paint will harden and stop being usable in about four or five hours.

Spray or brush on a light coat of paint. You're going to put on multiple coats, so this first one doesn't have to be perfect. Don't let the paint pool anywhere, but don't worry about tiny bubbles or blemishes.

Let this first coat dry for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then put on another coat, and let it dry for the same amount of time. Repeat this a few more times, until you have four to 10 coats in all.

You're done, right? Not so fast. Read on.

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