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How to Resurface Brake Rotors: A Quick Guide to Resurfacing and Replacement

Just like all the components of your car, brake rotors are not meant to go on forever. In fact, they are the ones that you should expect to wear down gradually. After all, they always function whenever you step on your brakes.

Fortunately, there is no need for you to replace this component once you notice that it is already worn out. You can resurface brake rotors multiple times before you change them to a new unit. But of course, there are limitations to the frequency of resurfacing that you are going to do.

Aside from learning how to resurface brake rotors, it is also essential that you know the fundamentals that are involved in brake rotor maintenance. In this way, you can ensure that your vehicle is properly maintained and safe to be driven.

When to Resurface Brake Rotors and When to Replace Brake Rotors

Once you step on the brakes and you feel that there are some vibrations that are not there previously, it is a good sign that your rotor might be going bad already. Of course, I know that you are doubtful about this idea, so you are going to check the brakes by yourself. But if you can see that the rotors are indeed in bad shape, then you have two options to solve it.

The first one is through resurfacing. As I mentioned earlier, there is no need for you to replace a warped rotor immediately. There are some instances that resurfacing alone can troubleshoot the problem.

When to Resurface Brake Rotors

Photo Source: http://www.leclife.com/index.php?alec=search&qlec=TURNING%20BRAKE%20ROTORS

Specifically, resurfacing is the process of machining, turning, and cutting rotors. The main issue problem that requires this solution is when the rotors of your brakes suffer from parallelism. The latter is the moment when your car is having a hard time maintaining a parallel line.

measuring rotor thickness

Credit: http://safebraking.com/why-do-i-need-new-brake-rotors-discs/

Rotor Thickness

Most of the rotors today have prescribed thickness that can last more than one pad replacement. Therefore, you can still resurface them for like two or three times. However, some car manufacturers today have whittled down this specification to curtail their production cost. Thin rotors can wear down quickly. In this case, replacement is the best option.

If the rotor has been worn out beyond the prescribed specifications, they cannot be resurfaced anymore. In some cases, you cannot just circumvent this policy.

Lateral Runout

Take note that brake rotors have lateral runout. This is a normal stage on the lifespan of the rotors, as you are using them in the first place. Once there is a lateral runout, the wearing out process is even. But there are some cases which do not happen. If lateral runout doesn’t take place, there are some fluctuations in the thickness of the rotor. It is the common cause of vibrations.

Interestingly, it will just require 0.001 inches of fluctuation in thickness for the pedal to vibrate. You can prevent this excessive thinning of the rotor by applying shims on the hub or the rotor itself. You might also want to clean the rotor hat with drill brush so that you can expel any objects that are creating the seams between the hub and the rotor. However, resurfacing is still the most optimal solution to this issue.


Another complication that rotor brakes suffer is overheating. Obviously, the friction that is created by the interaction of the brake rotors and brake pads insinuates heat. During long and rough rides, these two components are overly abused, which make them susceptible to overheating.

Vehicles that are usually pulling loads and trailers are the usual ones that suffer from this problem. Aside from the heat, discoloration and hard spots could also be created from the friction. These marks will eventually spread out on the brake disc. Unfortunately, you can’t resurface your way out of these hard spots because they are already rooted deep. The only way you can fix them is through replacement.

Other Considerations

A lot of automotive technicians suggest that if the rotor is free from cracks, grooves, and hard spots, it can still be resurfaced. Others believe that if there are no blemishes on the surface of the rotors, then it should not be resurfaced everything you are replacing the pads. In fact, a lot of mechanics would opt to change the brake pads of the car without touching the rotors at all.

Resurfacing in the past is quite a logical move because it is practical. Ten or twenty years ago, rotors were really expensive to acquire. But because of the advent of technology, the manufacturing process of rotors was optimized. Sooner, its production cost curbed down so much that one unit of a brake rotor can only cost less than $40.

How to Resurface Brake Rotors

how to resurface brake rotors

Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xokh96wRxb4

  1. First, have a lug wrench so that you can take out the lug bolts that connect your car to the wheels. Use a floor jack so that you can lift your vehicle while doing this. Once you can remove the wheels, you can already remove the rotor brakes, too.
  2. Next, apply a brake cleaner to the roto and all of its components. After spraying, wipe their surfaces with a clean cloth. After this, find the caliper bolts that affix the suspension to the caliper. Use a ratchet and appropriate socket to remove them.
  3. Have the caliper be slid over the brake rotors. Next, fasten the rotor in the suspension with the use of wire. In this way, it will not get in the way with the brake line which can cause damages.
  4. Once done, you can take the brake rotors to any local automotive or machine shops. Take note that you cannot do this process alone as it requires a trained professional and special tools to accomplish this. Experts can also recommend if you need resurfacing or replacement. Therefore, whatever recommendations they give, you should follow it.


Resurfacing or replacing your brake rotors can be determined by several factors. If you are still unsure about what route to take, consult the advice of professionals already. They can take a look at your vehicle and provide the ideal solutions for you. It is better to pay for their services than being caught off guard in the middle road. That’s a predicament that you don’t want to get in.

How was this article? Feel free to drop all your questions and suggestions in the comment section below!

Steven K. Galloway