Difference between Loaded and Unloaded Brake Calipers

Brake calipers are an integral part of a car’s braking system. Brake calipers are available, loaded, or unloaded. A fully loaded brake caliper would include all of the essential components in addition to the caliper. On the other hand, an unloaded caliper merely gives you the caliper. The term “laden” refers to the presence of brake pads, whereas “unloaded” refers to the calipers’ absence of brake pads. You can’t drive a car with calipers that aren’t loaded. The caliper is the device that connects the brake pads to the rotors. A fully loaded caliper arrives ready to use.

Before getting to know the difference between loaded and unloaded brake calipers, let’s take a general look at the meanings of both calipers so you can have a better understanding.

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Loaded Calipers:

The brake pads already have in the loaded caliper, so the technician only needs to remove the old one and replace it. This technique was a notion explored in the mainstream aftermarket years ago, but providers discovered that customers preferred to pick between good and low-quality brake pads.

Unloaded Calipers:

The term “laden” refers to the presence of brake pads, whereas “unloaded” refers to the calipers’ absence of brake pads. You can’t drive a car with calipers that aren’t loaded. The caliper is the device that connects the brake pads to the rotors.

The caliper and piston are the only parts of an unloaded caliper; it does not include pads or other equipment. An empty caliper is less expensive, but if you’re undertaking a brake job and require everything, the loaded unit has almost everything you’ll need.


According to the description of the loaded caliper, a loaded caliper would be ready to use right out of the box. It’ll come with mounting hardware as well as brake pads. On the other hand, a semi-loaded brake caliper includes the caliper, piston, and mounting hardware. It won’t come with brake pads, which isn’t inherently a bad idea.


Loaded calipers are popular among east coast technicians because they come with everything in one box. They don’t have to be concerned about incompatible parts from various vendors. Integrated assemblies are simple to install and have fewer return visits due to brake noise or other concerns. East Coast technicians prefer loaded calipers for the same reasons, but they work in a more price-sensitive market. As a result, Easterners tend to reuse more parts and only replace calipers when essential.

Before getting deployed, and unloaded one would require extra accessories. Pads and brake fluid are necessary, but other parts and supplies may be necessary, such as a cap for the brake bleeder. So it doesn’t rust and seize its threads, brake cleaner to wash off the oil that sprayed the caliper to prevent rust before. Or caliper paint if desired, any required shims, clips, and springs that just don’t come well with pads.


When you undertake a brake job on your automobile or truck, one of the key benefits of installing loaded caliper assemblies is restoring the brakes to like-new condition. That would require separately purchased brake pads, caliper pins, bleeder screws, and other installation hardware. They come with new friction, a properly rebuilt caliper, and carefully matched hardware, among other things. This decreases the likelihood of further leaks and uneven braking or pad degradation caused by calipers pinned up or dragging.

The brake pads are by far the most notable omission from the kit. Only the caliper and piston would be present in an unloaded caliper.  An unloaded caliper is less expensive and allows you to modify your brake system further.

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Position of the Brake Calipers:

Brake Caliper Position: You may observe that brake caliper placement differs from car to vehicle. That’s not a design that’s easy to maintain. On the other side, a 12’o clock position is terrible for weight distribution and bleeding. This intends to match the car’s design and improve braking performance. The location of the calipers may make it easier to bleed the brakes. It’s also critical to reduce the car’s center of gravity and improve its weight distribution.

As a result, you won’t see 6’o clock and 12′ o clock caliper placements in brakes very often. A 6 o’clock lowers the center of gravity and improves weight distribution, but it also opens up the brake, allowing more debris to be collected.


Unloaded calipers are less expensive than loaded calipers. Knowing the difference between loaded and unloaded brake calipers can aid you in making an informed decision about which caliper is best for your car. A loaded caliper is ready for an entire brake job, whereas an unloaded one would require additional accessories before being used.

If you change calipers on both sides, buying two “loaded” calipers is less expensive. Unloaded caliper pistons are less likely to shatter or deform under high pressure. As a result, they provide reliable braking performance.


Some rear caliper configurations on various cars don’t employ a parking shoe and instead rely on a self-adjusting piston and a spring, a bracket, and other components. Those designs usually have a flat piston face and two nubs on the back that allow the piston to twist back into the bore. Pads, shims, wear indicators, and other components are placed in loaded calipers. In a nutshell, you remove the old caliper bolts, disconnect the brake hose, install the new caliper, reattach the hose, bleed the brakes, and drive away.

Unloaded calipers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they are always paddles. The word varies because rear calipers come with parking brake hardware for cars with a spring and lever configuration.

Shortly, loaded calipers are far better than unloaded calipers. Loaded calipers will provide you haste free functionality along with more advantages. In comparison, unloaded calipers are cheap but need more time to fix them.

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Thomas Oscar

Hey, I am Thomas Oscar founder and author of Machinery Judge.
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