brake caliper paint DIY for mk5+ VW and Audi TDI
How to paint your brake calipers on VW Jetta, Golf, and Audi A3 TD
This article shows how to paint your brake calipers on your 2010+ Audi A3 TDI. This procedure can also be used on the mk6 VW Golf TDI or 2009+ Jetta VW TDI. They are similar except the Audi A3 uses a larger rotor.
Many thanks to user fahrenheit351 for donating the pictures and procedure. It's rated difficulty 2/5 only because you have to jack up the car and remove the wheel. This is potentially dangerous so make sure the car is supported securely or at the factory jack points and the wheels are chocked. Other than that it's very easy.
They sell paint specifically for brake calipers designed to resist the high heat the brake calipers will see. Like any other paint job, prepping is important so make sure the calipers are clean before applying the paint.
17mm lug wrench/socket and torque wrench
caliper paint (The author bought it for $16.99)
simple green or other cleaner and a brush
jack stands, wheel chocks, and a hydraulic floor jack rated for your car's weight
safety equipment like a dust mask, eye/face protection, and gloves
Procedure to paint the calipers
With the car off, apply the parking brake, chock the wheels, and safely and securely raise the car as described in your factory service manual. Make sure the car is safe and secure before removing the wheel.
Open the trunk and lift the floor/spare tire cover. There's a loop that hangs onto this hook to support it.
The lug bolt cap is near the rear (highlighted).
The lug bolt cap removal tool slips over lug nut cap. A firm pull will slide the cap right off.
Loosen all lugnuts about 1/2-1/4 turn while the car is resting on the ground.
The front aluminum A arm mount is a good location to jack the front up if your jack has a pad. Use caution because the mount is aluminum. You can also jack the car at the factory jack points. A pad will help prevent tearing the undercoating off at the factory jack points. If your jack has a bare metal pad with a small contact area it can deform the jack point. The original author put a jack stand on the suspension arm to support the car. I don't recommend this because I don't believe that it's stable enough for carrying the weight of the car. Suspension arms are designed to move and if the car falls it can cause serious damage, injury, or death. Jack stands should always be the primary method of supporting the car. Never use a hydraulic floor jack as the primary method of supporting a car since they can suddenly fail without warning.
Once the car is raised and supported, remove the lugnuts on the side of the car that is raised. Your car may have a plastic wheel hanger - this threads into one of the lug nut holes and supports the wheel as it comes off. It prevents damage to the wheel like by scraping the brake dust cover against the inside and peeling off wheel weights. It also makes it easier to remove and install the wheel.
Remove the wheel.
Stock and dirty front brakes. 11K miles makes for a lot of dust.
The greyish tan line indicates properly bedded brakes.
I used Simple Green cleaner instead of the supplied brake cleaner. It's much easier to use and since the brake dust wasn't bad it cleaned just as well. I used an old stiff bristled toothbrush to scrub it and get into all the nooks and crannies. I thought the caliper cleaner supplied in the kit might have some etching properties that would promote adhesion of the paint so I tested it and it didn't. Rinse the Simple Green well with water. I just used a spray bottle with water to avoid getting everything too wet. I used compressed air to dry off the calipers however make sure to have a respirator and eye protection on if you are doing this. They may look clean but why take chances?
The front brakes after cleaning. The stains are from water run off and were wiped off with a rag. Also remove the brake pad retaining clip. Use a flat head screw driver or pliers and remove the clip up from caliper hole. The clip is under tension so use a rag over your hand to contain it, otherwise it can fly off and hit something like your eye.
Three coats were needed as red paint covers poorly. By the time you're done putting on the first coat, the first caliper should be dry. After the paint is sufficiently dry, start back at the first caliper for the second coat. Repeat as needed. I left the calipers on but you can take them off. Since this is only a cosmetic project I figured what you cannot see won't hurt you. When I get ready to do the brakes I will paint the areas I missed at that time. They will be needing another coat anyway by then.
CAUTION: Do not forget to put the brake pad retaining clip (the spring) back on when you're done painting the brakes!
The rear brakes before painting:
The rear brakes after painting:
Pics after the wheels were put back on and torqued to 90 ft-lbs (double check your factory service manual for the correct specs). This is a good time to think about rotating or swapping the tires. This model of Continental tires are unidirectional. Unlike many tires, they cannot be rotated to the other side. To correctly rotate the tires, the same side fronts go in the rear and rears come up front. Mount the tire lug nuts finger tight, then use the 17mm wrench to slightly snug the wheel using the 5 pointed star torque sequence. Once snug and centered, lower the car so that the tire is gently touching the ground. Using a calibrated torque wrench, set the lugs at 90 ft-lbs again using the 5 pointed star torque sequence. Check and adjust tire pressures as needed (check your manual for inflation recommendations).