Dummy’s Guide To Repairing Faulty Brake Rotors

If you have been a vehicle owner for some time, you would know that every part of the car needs regular maintenance to function properly, and the brakes are no exception. I mean, come on, that’s practically common knowledge.

But first, we must give you a rundown of the scenarios you might be facing. Your mechanic may ask you if you want your brake rotors replaced or resurfaced, and you should know what’s what. You don’t want to be spending your money getting new brake rotors when you could have just had them repaired for less cost.

What Are Brake Rotors And Why Do They Need Fixing?

Most modern-day automobiles feature a two or four-wheel brake disc system. When you press on the brake pedal, the hydraulic fluid in the system transfers the pressure to a clamping mechanism called the brake caliper.

The brake caliper, in turn, pushes on the brake pads, that are located between a spinning disc called the brake rotor. This rotor clamps on the wheel, stopping the motion by friction, thereby converting the kinetic energy of the wheel into thermal energy.

On average, a brake pad needs replacement every 40-50k miles or so. But all that heat and friction can also adversely affect the brake rotors, especially if you’re fond of driving fast and brake aggressively. All this causes the rotor to warp.

If the rotor becomes warped, gouged, or worn out, it can put you and your vehicle at risk of brake failure.A high portion of the complaints received by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is regarding brakes.

How To ReplaceYour Brake Rotors

The process of removing and repairing brakes is more or less the same in every modern vehicle. Sometimes you might need to replace them, and sometimes you can get off cheap by turning and resurfacing them. Either way, let us give you a quick 101 on how to repair brake rotors:

  1. Before starting, it’s essential to have your supplies with you. You will need a light source, tools, a bottleof brake fluid, a set of new brakes, a string of wire, a hydraulic jack, and jack stands.
  2. Once you’ve got the supplies, park your car on a flat surface and pull the parking brake. Place a wooden block behind one of your front and back wheels, depending on which rotor you are working on. If you’ve recently driven the car, let it cool off first before commencing any work.
  3. Loosen the lug nuts on the wheel,raise the car with the hydraulic jack andsecure it with jack stands. Make sure there is enough space for you to remove the wheel easily.
  4. Remove the wheel and set it aside. Keep the lug nuts in a safe place as you will need them again.
  5. You will now be able to see the rotor, which is a disk behind the wheel. Over the disc is the caliper, which holds the brake pads. There will be two bolts behind the caliper;remove them, and the caliper should slide right off. Use the wire to hold the caliper in place, do not let it hang as it may damage the brake hose.
  6. Remove the rotor and take it to an auto shop to get it turned or resurfaced.
  7. After repairing, put the rotor back in place, along with the caliper and bolts. Then put the wheel back on, and you are ready to go.

When To Replace Brake Rotors?

So, how do you know if it’s time for you to replace your brake rotors? Firstly, if it’s time to replace brake pads and your brake rotors have already been resurfaced, we’d suggest getting them replaced. Resurfacing already thins the rotors, and there’s only so much you can thin.

 If your brakes make a screeching or grinding sound when you press on them, it’s highly likely you need to replace them; additionally, if you press the brakes and the vehicle shudders, or the brakes pulsate, that is also a sign for getting them replaced.

With today’s vehicles, the fuel economy is a concern. Manufacturers are continually looking for ways to make them lighter. One of those ways has been to include brake rotors that are thinner and weigh less.

While lighter rotors may reduce vehicle weight, they also have a more challenging time dissipating the heat that builds up during braking. As they are made using less material, they are thin. That means that they can wear down quicker.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace Brake Rotors And Brake Pads?

Typically parts for European cars like BMW, Mercedes, and Jaguar will cost you more than Japanese car parts. Also, labor costs for European cars might be comparatively higher.

Rotors, on average, costbetween $30 to $75 apiece. Higher quality rotors, with a coated hat and edge,are obviously more expensive. Labor costs for these will be in the ballpark of $150 to $200 per axle.

If you opt to get your brake pads replaced as well, they will cost you around $100 to $300 per axle, including labor costs. Brake pads cost about $35 each or $150 for a set of 4.

What About Brake Resurfacing?

Traditionally, it’s been common to have your existing rotors resurfaced whenever the brake pads are replaced. Resurfacing is a process where a thin layer of material on each side of the rotor is machined to create a smooth surface for the new pads.

If the rotors are in decentcondition, and there is enough thickness for resurfacing, it’s perfectly normal to have your brake rotors resurfaced multiple times.

While the general practice has been to resurface brake rotors, with time, the method is declining. Many mechanics advise against it, opting not to take a chance on safety if the rotors become too thin.


So that is our rundown on what to do if your brake rotors start making some awful screeching noises. We all know how much anxiety car troubles can give a person, especially if you’re a rookie.

Hopefully, after reading this, you’ll be better placed to make an informed decision about your brake issues. We hope this article has been helpful to you. We’ve attached a picture for you to make it easier for you to locate the rotor.

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