Bus calipers: Why rebuild?
Better ask: Why not?

Focus On: Brakes


Remanufactured components

In this issue, BUSRide Maintenance continues “Focus On: Brakes,” a cooperative forum series that addresses the critical design and manufacturing elements associated with effective heavy-duty brake systems for buses and motorcoaches.

This series aims to investigate the elements of good brake design and brake safety, the importance of brake inspection, the real effects of ‘wear and tear,’ brake maintenance, regenerative braking, hidden benefits, optimal lifespans and more.

This month, we cover caliper rebuilding – a crucial topic that many operators may have not previously considered.

According to ProTec Friction Group, Mt. Kisco, NY, the two main reasons for caliper remanufacturing are savings and sustainability. As Parker Silzer, vice president of sales for ProTec – TDIR division, explains, the cost savings generated by rebuilt brake calipers are too high to ignore. Furthermore, fleet operators can have a major impact on the environment by using these remanufactured parts.

Bus calipers: Why rebuild?
Better ask: Why not?


In this era of throwaway parts and appliances that cost more to fix than to replace, the repair and remanufacturing of otherwise perfect goods has become somewhat of a lost art.

In the case of brake systems for buses, calipers are safety components which must meet strict quality standards. For all practical purposes, remanufacturing automotive parts is very much like assembling new parts – except that some of the components are taken from used parts, especially the housing. A quality rebuild includes these steps:

  • Each used caliper is stripped fully. The core is checked for physical damage, wear, cracks and excessive rust.
  • All cores and reusable parts are sand shot blasted with a specialized process that preserves threads.
  • Cores are painted with a controlled thickness layer of black or gray anticorrosion paint.
  • All calipers are fitted with guide pins and seal kits.
  • All bushings and bearings are replaced 100 percent.
  • All seals and boots are replaced 100 percent.
  • Calipers are inspected throughout the build process, followed by final quality and pressure testing.

There are two main reasons to consider caliper remanufacturing: savings and sustainability.


“A properly rebuilt part is virtually indistinguishable from a new part,” says Steve Yelencsics, president of Raritan Valley Bus Service, Edison, NJ, noting that his company saves money every time. “However, a rebuilt part normally costs us 50 percent to 75 percent of the cost of a comparable new one, and carries the same warranty.”

Let’s run the numbers for a motorcoach bus with six calipers installed.

• A new brake caliper from the manufacturer costs a fleet approximately $975.

• The cost of an equivalent re-manned part is $475: a savings of $500 X six calipers (or $3,000) savings per bus

For a fleet with 50 buses that replaces its calipers every two years, the savings over just four years will be noteworthy. Two periodic replacements multiplied by $3,000 savings/ bus by 50 buses adds up to a total savings of $300,000.


Bus operators are increasingly concerned with reducing negative environmental impact by investing in new fuels, better tires and lighter vehicles. And, they wish to communicate their environmental actions to riders, government agencies and the general public.

“We are doing our part, in ways big and small, to contribute to a healthier planet,” says Charlie Konieko, maintenance manager for Peter Pan Bus in Secaucus, NJ. “Purchasing remanufactured parts is in line with our core mission.”

A typical motorcoach caliper weighs 70 pounds and each bus three-axle has six calipers, equaling 420 pounds per bus. Over a 10-year lifespan of a bus, calipers may be replaced four times. Four replacements at 420 pounds equals 1,680 pounds per bus.

For a fleet of 100 buses, this represents 168,000 pounds of saved iron use per fleet

According to the International Energy Agency, the greenhouse gas of most relevance is carbon dioxide (CO2). On average, 1.8 tons of CO2 are emitted for every ton of iron produced. Even accounting for a 30 percent recycle factor, the positive environmental impact of widespread bus industry remanufacturing would be a reduction of over 60 million pounds of CO2 over 10 years.

Using remanufactured calipers requires virtually no time and no additional investment. The carbon savings and benefits are immediate.

Article Originally Featured on BUSRide Maintenance, January 2016.

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