Painting the Brake Calipers is NOT that difficult.

stuff

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#1
If you want to just see the pics and skip the narrative feel free to do so here.

So this past weekend I took the plunge and decided I had to have the Red Calipers. After reading a few threads and watching a few vids, I opted to paint them "in place on the rotors" to avoid dealing with disconnecting and bleeding the brake lines. I bought the High-Temp Caliper Paint & ClearCoat from the local auto-supply shop and ordered Decals in Tesla Font from an Etsy crafter.

TL;DR ... I'll jump to the end - was very satisfied with the results.

Let me state that I am not particularly mechanically inclined and if I can do this anyone can. The secret, if there is one, is to be patient and think steps thru before getting into problems - take your time to get things right. If you're in a rush your results will look like it.

After using a jack adapter/floor jack to lift the car, I removed the Aero wheel. I used the opportunity to test fit a spare I bought for road trips. I had read where some people had purchased wheels that did not offer clearance for a bolt-head that is present on the Model 3 (visible in this image). Fortunately, in my case there was proper recess and the tire-saver spare mounted just fine. Once confirmed ok, that too came off.

Next was to start masking off the work area - nothing more tragic that red over-spray/drift on a now "rare" Obsidian Black Metallic 3, so the Entire vehicle went under protective drop clothes, as the process progressed these drops were eventually taped together to insure a good work field.

The next step was to clean the calipers - did this repeatedly until I could not remove any more dirt/grime - This took about an hour per caliper. Started with degreaser and rags, then switched over to alcohol and microfiber towels, finally ending up with Q-Tips for crevasses and hard to reach areas. Only when I when I got clean materials back was I finished. One item to note here, I failed to immediately remove a QR-Code sticker on the lower section of the first caliper. If you should do this, knock that out first - before you start cleaning.

Once everything is clean enough to eat off of - then do something else for a half-hour and let everything dry. When you return - start masking things off. This took well over an hour per caliper also. It's important to be precise as possible, as later on, the angles required to apply the paint are rather unforgiving of any loose or poorly placed masks. You can fit the tape between the rotors and the calipers, so do so - all the way up to the pads themselves, mask off the brake lines, remove the black caps on the bleed ports and mask off the nipples beneath. The pads & retainer springs area will require precise masking - again so you can successfully spray the inside edge of the caliper later on. Once the details of the caliper have been masked, then start work your drop sheets into place and tape them down - obviously the entire rotor (both sides) must be protected. You do not want spray to go beneath the car, so be sure to cover the floor in absorbent newsprint and tuck your protective drop-cloths beneath it.

Then start painting... Secret here is many light coats with plenty of drying time between. This took a little bit to get a handle on - and in some places it's not even doable. Because of the limited space, and tight distances, some angles require spraying that will be heavier than you will prefer - but I wasn't willing to consider an airbrush for this project. I ended up with 4 coats of base red. After the final coat, I let it sit overnight so there was zero tack before I applying the decals. Applying the decals was the easiest part of the project - just get them centered properly then use a stiff straightedge (I used a plastic razorblade) to rub them onto the calipers for a tight contact, then gently peel away the backing. - it's the decals that really bring the calipers to life. Once in place, apply your clear coat the same way you did the base red. First coat should be especially light (thin), letting it dry between coats. When you are happy with the sheen - walk away and give it plenty of time to dry hard. I gave mine another 8 hours. Part of that time was used to apply rim blades to my Aero rims - since I had them off the car anyway.

Once everything is totally dry, start removing your masking. As the masking tape comes off and the contrast of the springs and brake pads start to show, the calipers immediately begin to reward your efforts. Put the rubber protective caps back on the bleed ports. Finally mount your rims back in place and enjoy the new look of your wheels.

I will say, this task does require a lot of time, but it's all easy work, and does not require any special skills - if I can do it - you absolutely can too! Don't be afraid to tackle this project if it's something you want.

Stuff
 
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#5
Yes I did mine only took a few hours probably about $50 in material once I got the Jack pad and special low profile floor jack.
 

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stuff

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#10
Here is a shot of my Rear Caliper. It was significantly more work to mask off properly than the front caliper was, but in the end I thought the effect was worth the extra time to do it right! (Please excuse the bad white-balance of my crappy phone camera. The color is actually Tesla Red not the Orangeish hue indicated by this image.)

Rear-Finished..jpg
 

Rick Steinwand

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#11
I finally got a chance to paint my calipers today, but used a brush and Duplicolor ceramic caliper paint. Previously I used an epoxy paint, which stood up very well to scrapes from rotating wheels. Today I had enough paint left to do at least two more cars. Need to find a brush-on, high temp clear to use with my labels, which aren't here yet, so maybe a project for next weekend. Project took about 6 hours and outside temp was only 55° F, so plugged in, rolled down the windows, cranked up the tunes, and turned the heat on high to warm the garage a few degrees. Paint wasn't drying in the 5 minutes between coats that the can said so used a fan to blow on them until they were dry enough for a second coat.

2018-10-28 15.15.50.jpg 2018-10-28 15.33.05.jpg
 

stuff

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#12
I finally got a chance to paint my calipers today, but used a brush and Duplicolor ceramic caliper paint. Previously I used an epoxy paint, which stood up very well to scrapes from rotating wheels. Today I had enough paint left to do at least two more cars. Need to find a brush-on, high temp clear to use with my labels, which aren't here yet, so maybe a project for next weekend. Project took about 6 hours and outside temp was only 55° F, so plugged in, rolled down the windows, cranked up the tunes, and turned the heat on high to warm the garage a few degrees. Paint wasn't drying in the 5 minutes between coats that the can said so used a fan to blow on them until they were dry enough for a second coat.
Nice! I was seriously tempted to explore brush application - a significant time saver. Looks great!

Stuff
 

Rick Steinwand

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#13
I was worried about overspray on the discs and everywhere else.

Turns out the only high temp clear I can find for Duplicolor is spray. You also have to make sure you only spray enamel over enamel. Acrylic over enamel is a fail. So I'll still have to mask off most of the caliper.
 

stuff

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#14
I was worried about overspray on the discs and everywhere else.

Turns out the only high temp clear I can find for Duplicolor is spray. You also have to make sure you only spray enamel over enamel. Acrylic over enamel is a fail. So I'll still have to mask off most of the caliper.
Yea, good masking is a bear! Sorry to hear you are going to be forced down that path - you might consider foregoing the clearcoat if you are not using decals, but if you are applying the decals, I would definitely put on at least three layers of clearcoat.

I'm curious, since you are allowing time to pass between the painting and the clearcoat, what approach are you going with to clean the calipers before applying the clearcoat? Since I did mine all at one, I could be more agressive with the cleaning than I think I'd be comfortable with recent paint already in place.
 
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#15
Just curious, how are painted calipers treated if you trade your car back in? I've heard people had to change their upgraded tires back and remove spoilers when they trade their cars in. I ordered some G2 caliper paint, but I am now wondering if I would have to replace my calipers if I want to trade the car in later. I plan to keep the car for the long term, but plans can change too.
 

rlb4

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#16
What about bringing the car in for brake related warranty service? They will probably say it voids your warranty.
 

Jayc

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#18
Anyone fitted caliper covers instead of painting ? Just wanted to know whether caliper covers are available for Model 3 non performance calipers.