I recently did a brake upgrade article on the E31 and 996 calipers for the E46 M3 and I thought I’d do a DIY on how to paint brake calipers. As brake calipers age, the paint also ages and the surface will clearly show fading of the clear coat. Some of you may even have damaged base coat that deserves a much needed respray. Powdercoating is also a popular option, but for those that don’t want to deal with taking apart the caliper and seals, spray painting the brake calipers is the way to go. As long as you put in the proper prep work and take your time with coats, the results can be really good.

Things you need


Paint prep your brake calipers

1.1, disassemble E31/996 calipers including brake lines, bleeder valves, hard line (optional)

E46 M3 Brembo 996 E31 Brake Retrofit

E46 M3 Brembo 996 E31 Brake Retrofit

E46 M3 Brembo 996 E31 Brake Retrofit

E46 M3 Brembo 996 E31 Brake Retrofit

E46 M3 Brembo 996 E31 Brake Retrofit

1.2, plug brake fluid and bleeder valves so paint doesn’t get in there

*Pro tip: earplugs are cheap and they work great for plugging

E46 M3 Brembo 996 E31 Brake Retrofit

1.3, sand surface of caliper with 400 grit sandpaper if your calipers are already painted. If your calipers are raw, a simple wire brush to remove dirt and grime will do.

E46 M3 Brembo 996 E31 Brake Retrofit

E46 M3 Brembo 996 E31 Brake Retrofit

1.4, clean calipers with brake cleaner and soap water getting as much dirt off as you can

E46 M3 Brembo 996 E31 Brake Retrofit

Paint your brake calipers

2.1, once fully dry mask off caliper pistons, carrier bolt holes and the mounting surface on your calipers

E46 M3 Brembo 996 E31 Brake Retrofit

E46 M3 Brembo 996 E31 Brake Retrofit

2.2, you can now start spraying light layers of paint; I did 5 layers of VHT red with 10 minutes of dry time between each coat (notice all the areas I masked off)

E46 M3 Brembo 996 E31 Brake Retrofit

E46 M3 Brembo 996 E31 Brake Retrofit

E46 M3 Brembo 996 E31 Brake Retrofit

E46 M3 Brembo 996 E31 Brake Retrofit

2.3, after the base paint has dried, put Brembo decal on and spray 2 light coats of clear

E46 M3 Brembo 996 E31 Brake Retrofit

E46 M3 Brembo 996 E31 Brake Retrofit

2.4, once fully dry (refer to instructions on paint can) reinstall bleeder valves and remove masking

2.5, you have the option to bake them to properly cure the paint (VHT bake at 200°F for 1 hour)