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How to replace brake rotors

Peter Sitkowski | 19th Jan 2024 | 5 minutes to read

Brake rotors create the main force that slows your wheels down during braking and are a crucial component of your vehicle’s braking system. Friction from the brake pads pressing against these rotors during braking causes wear and tear over years of use and you’ll eventually need to repair or replace them.

It’s important to have your brake rotors checked for excessive wear, as climate or road conditions such as heat, sand, or dirt can cause brake rotors to deteriorate faster. Replacing your brake rotors will help to ensure the vehicle's braking system operates optimally, contributing to safe driving conditions and extending the longevity of your vehicle.

This article offers guidelines for checking and replacing your brake rotors, with the main steps listed below:

  1. Preparing the Vehicle & Removing the Wheels
  2. Inspecting & Removing the Brake Calliper and Pads
  3. Removing the Brake Rotor
  4. Installing the New Brake Rotor
  5. Replacing Brake Pads and Calliper Reinstallation
  6. Reinstalling Wheels and Wheel Nuts
  7. Testing and Bedding In
  8. Final Checks and Clean Up
  9. Braking at Repco

Tools for the Job

  • Wheel brace
  • Jack
  • Jack stands
  • Socket and ratchet set
  • C-clamp or brake calliper tool
  • Torque wrench
  • Brake cleaner
  • New brake rotors
  • Brake pads
  • Gloves
  • Goggles

Preparing the Vehicle & Removing the Wheels

Park the vehicle on a level surface and engage the parking brake. Loosen the wheel nuts on the wheels using a lug wrench, but do not remove them entirely at this stage. Use a jack to lift the car, supporting it securely on jack stands to allow access to the wheels.

Fully remove the wheel nuts and wheels to access the brake components. Place the removed wheels aside in a safe location. This step grants access to the brake callipers, pads, and rotors for inspection and replacement.

Inspecting & Removing the Brake Calliper and Pads

Inspect the brake callipers, pads, and rotors for wear, damage, or signs of excessive heat or uneven wear. Assess the thickness of the brake pads and examine the brake rotors for scoring, grooves, or warping.

Use a suitable socket and ratchet to remove the bolts securing the brake calliper. Carefully lift the calliper away from the rotor, taking care not to damage the brake line. Remove the brake pads from the calliper bracket.

Removing the Brake Rotor

Inspect the brake rotor retaining hardware and remove any screws or clips securing the rotor to the hub. If the rotor is stuck due to rust or corrosion, gently tap it with a hammer to loosen it. Slide the old rotor off the hub assembly.

Clean the hub assembly thoroughly using brake cleaner to remove any rust or debris. Wipe down the calliper, calliper bracket, and other components with a clean rag. Ensure all surfaces are free from contaminants before installing the new rotor.

Installing the New Brake Rotor

Slide the new brake rotor onto the hub assembly, ensuring it fits securely. If necessary, reinstall any retaining hardware to secure the rotor in place. Verify that the rotor sits flush against the hub without any wobbling or misalignment.

Replacing Brake Pads and Calliper Reinstallation

Install new brake pads into the calliper bracket, ensuring they fit snugly. Use a C-clamp or brake calliper tool to compress the calliper piston to accommodate the thicker new brake pads. Reattach the brake calliper onto the bracket and secure it with bolts.

Reinstalling Wheels and Wheel Nuts

Place the wheels back onto the wheel studs and hand-tighten the wheel nuts in a star pattern to ensure even tightening. Lower the vehicle from the jack stands and use a torque wrench to tighten the wheel nuts to the manufacturer's specified torque settings.

Testing and Bedding In

Before driving the vehicle, depress the brake pedal a few times to seat the brake pads against the new rotors. Gradually apply the brakes while driving to test their functionality, ensuring proper braking performance without any unusual noises or vibrations.

Final Checks and Clean Up

Inspect around the wheels and brakes for any loose components or leaks. Dispose of any used materials properly and clean the work area. It’s a good idea to document the brake rotor replacement as well, noting the parts you used and the date it occurred.

Braking at Repco

If you're in need of replacement brake rotors, ABS brake parts, brake callipers, or brake pads, Repco has you covered. We've got a wide variety of braking components to suit a vast selection of vehicles, so head into your local Repco or shop online to fix that pesky braking issue today.

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