Remove brake calipers without removing brake discs


Registered User
I have a 2017 S3 model 8v.

My S3 suffers from rust on the brake rotor hats. I know most vehicles suffer from this. You spend a small fortune on a car and after 12-months there is loads of rust on the rotor hats which can really spoil the look of a set of lovely alloys.

So I safely removed each wheel (only did one at a time) and used Autotek VHT silver paint to spruce the rota hats up a bit after first removing as much rust as possible with a wire brush.

I also took the opportunity to use some Wonder Wheels and a power washer to do the inside of the alloys.

The autotek paint is a nightmare to put on. It is very watery and dries in just a few minutes. If you then try to paint over it it starts to get tacky and looks terrible. After about 15 minutes of constant painting I had done one rotor hat. It wasn't perfect, but when I was standing upright it looked so much better than it did before hand. When the wheel was back on it was a huge improvement. Practice makes perfect, and each of the other three rotor hats was a slight improvement on the last.

The autotek paint is rated up to 500 degrees but only time will tell how well it works and stands up to to regular heavy braking which of course will heat up the discs. I think I will have to be careful when cleaning the alloys with my pressure washer as I have a feeling if I blast the new paint on the rotor hats some of it may well come off where as the original paint although it rusted could easily withstand the pressure washer.

I have decided I am probably going to replace the discs with new ones. Once I had removed the wheel I could see the two two big bolts that hold the brake caliper in place.

My question is, if I remove these two bolts, can I remove the brake caliper without having to remove the brake pads? I have read there should be 1 mm clearance between each pad and the disc so in theory the whole caliper should come off with brake pads still attached.

I know you need to be careful when working with brakes, but I am fairly sure I could fit new discs if I didn't have to start removing brake pads or bleeding the brake line etc.

Could anyone recommend some decent disks? I've heard that drilled discs are prone to cracking and that grooved discs are prone to squeaking.

EBay has a set of drilled and grooved mintex discs complete with brake pads and sensors for £300. I only really want the four discs.

Any advice on this would be really appreciated.


Registered User
It these calliper are the same ones I have on my 2015 rs3 you will need to remove the tension spring clip then with a screwdriver lever the whole calliper assembly off the discs.
Once off you will be able to remove the pads but if you have an electric handbrake you will need vcds or similar to activate to motors on the calliper to OPEN position.
Take out the pads and then with a wind back tool relocate the piston back to its fully open position.
If you try and use the wind back tool without unlocking the motor mechanism you could damage it then you are going to be forking out £££’s on a new one.
Hope this gives you some sort of insight into this job mate


Registered User
as above but the electric calipers can just get pushed back without a winding tool after you have opened the electric motor with VCDS etc. On some of the VAG range you can slip the disc out the carrier but i doubt you can on the S3. To remove it you need an M14 spline socket.


Registered User
I replaced all the pads and discs from my car recently, but I'm unsure what you're asking. The thread title asks if you can remove the calipers without removing the discs (yes), but your text asks if you can remove the caliper without removing the pads (also probably yes, but be careful on the rears - you'll need to put the car into service mode for brake pads ideally)

I got all Brembo parts (pads and discs) from eurocarparts with 50% off recently which I'm happy with. Not grooved or drilled discs, just plain, but I don't need any of that.


Registered User
Thank you for all of the replies.

Cemerson: thank you for pointing out my mistake. The title should have been "Can I remove the brake calipers without removing the brake pads".

Based on some of the replies the answer is 'possibly' but the brake calipers probably won't just come off once I have removed the two retaining bolts, there are other things that need to be considered.

If I have the vehicle on a perfectly flat surface and use wheel chocks I could disengage the electronic handbrake, but I am not sure how to put it into service mode.

As with most things in life, it's probably going to be more complicated than I thought. I might just check around some local garages to see how much they would charge to fit some new new discs which I would probably supply.

I have driven 50 miles tonight up and down the motorway. A lack of traffic allowed me to break reasonably heavily during my journey to try and heat up up the discs. I'm hoping this might help the Autotek VHT paint to adhere and bond to the rotor hats so when I eventually come to clean my alloys the VHT paint is well bonded and rock hard and won't come off. If this happens I will be happy but if the paint spoils or the brake dust does not come off it will be new discs all round.

Just for information in case anyone was considering painting the rotor hats with Autotek vht paint, I looked again at my alloys today on a sunny afternoon and the visible rotors do look really good - a massive improvement compared to when they had lots of rust on them. They look almost brand new so this will have been a worthwhile exercise if they still look this good in 3 months time when my alloys have had several vigorous washes.

I really appreciate the replies.


Registered User
In theory you can, but I don't think it's much of a problem - just take the brake pads off and put them back in place when you come to reassemble. There's a bracket that they (and the calipers) mount on to that stays in place when you take the calipers off via the 2 pins/bolts (they're slightly different front and rear).

You'll need something like OBD11 or VCDS to put it into service mode for the EPB. I have seen Youtube videos online where they do the rears without setting this mode, but I would say that's very much at your own risk and the calipers could end up crunching itself up, causing damage, or just not be able to get it off in the first place.

If you're talking about replacing discs anyway then the whole conversation becomes irrelevant as you'd have to remove the pads AND the mounting bracket too regardless. It's not a hard job, you just need the right sockets & bits to remove them - I can't remember the size but it was a giant star-shaped bit (I forget the technical term) that was needed (NOT Torx - many more splines/points than that)