We hope it doesn’t happen to you for a while, but eventually, you will need to repair a brake rotor on your car. Rotors can get worn out and damaged from a number of factors, such as high heat, or from sudden stops over a period of time. Also, if you don’t take care of the rotors, they can get “scored.” Often, the rotor will need to be replaced, but in some instances, they can be salvaged by being turned or resurfaced. The process for removing and repairing brake rotors is pretty much the same for all modern vehicles, and we’ll go over it in detail here.
Before you start, there are some supplies you’ll need to do the job. They are: tools, a light source, a bottle of brake fluid, a good hydraulic jack (and jack stands), gloves, new brake pads and a good length of wire or string.
Next, you need to prep your work area. Park on a flat surface, and set the parking brake. Place a block of wood in front of and behind one of the car’s front or rear wheels, depending on which rotors you’re repairing. IMPORTANT: If you’ve recently driven the car, you need to let the brakes cool down.
Now, loosen the lug nuts on the appropriate wheel until they spin freely. Raise the car off the ground with the jack and secure it with jack stands, being sure to follow your car manufacturer’s instructions. Once you’ve done that, ensure that there’s adequate space under the car so that the wheel can be removed.
Remove the wheel you’ve been working on. Take off each lug, and put the lugs somewhere where they won’t get lost. Set the wheel aside.
The next thing you’ll see is the rotor, which is a disc that sits right behind the wheel. Over the disc is the caliper, which holds the brake pads. Check the rotor to see if it’s hot, and there will be two bolts on the caliper’s back. Remove those two bolts, and the caliper should slide right off. (If you’re removing the rear rotor and the caliper doesn’t come off, check the parking brake and disengage it if necessary). Make sure that you don’t allow the caliper to hang by the brake hose, as the hose can get damaged. Instead, use a strong piece of wire or string to hold the caliper back.
Remove the rotor, and take it to a parts store or machine shop to be resurfaced, or “turned.” In most places, this can be done for less than twenty dollars. When the rotor is done, replace it, then the caliper, and finally, the wheel.
That’s all there is to it. Replacing and repairing a brake rotor can seem tricky, and if you think that you’re in over your head, you should have the work done by a mechanic. However, if you take your time and have the right tools, it will be fairly straightforward. You’ll save money by doing the work yourself, and you’ll come away with a sense of accomplishment.