How to Repair a Brake Rotor

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What You'll Need
Owner manual
Brake rotors
Socket wrench and sockets

Are you familiar with how to repair a brake rotor? Brake rotors, depending on their condition, should be refinished or replaced when the brakes are realigned. They absorb much of the heat created by the friction of the brake pads against them during braking. Things like stress cracks, deeply pitted areas from rust, getting out of round (run out), deep grooves in the surface, or being worn down to minimum specifications or the discard thickness are indicators that it is time to replace the brake rotors. Before replacing the rotors, you can repair them by filing them down (to reduce the uneven spots) or taking them to a mechanic to 'true-up' or re-shape appropriately. Here is what you need to do to repair the brake rotors, in an effort to save some money on the replacement.

Step 1 - Check Manufacturer Specifications

Pull out your automotive manuals and read through all of the manufacturer's specifications and recommendations. After reading through the information, if you are not comfortable with what is required for the repair, then you are best to take your car to a qualified repair technician.

Step 2 - Test Drive Your Car

Before you begin to repair your brake rotor, take your vehicle for a light drive on a highway or freeway. Once you are at a good speed, and making sure there are no other cars around you, apply a light, constant pressure to your brakes. You need to see whether or not you are getting any vibration when you apply the brakes. If you are feeling strong vibrations, you will need a professional to re-machine the rotors. If there are very mild vibrations, then you can file down your rotors to repair them yourself by following the directions below.

Step 2 - Jack Car Up

Begin by lifting the car up in the air. Using a set of car ramps or a jack, put the car up so that you can easily walk around the car and get to the wheels.

Step 3 - Remove the Wheel

Pull off the lug nuts and remove the wheel of the car

Step 4 - Pull off the Brake Pads

Remove the brake pads carefully to expose the rotor.

Step 5 - Pull off the Rotor

Using the right amount of torque, remove the lug nuts that hold the rotor in place. You will need the right socket to take the rotors off properly

Step 6 - File the Rotor

Using a small file, intended to file down a brake rotor, gently file the surface until you get an even and smooth surface. Do not try to over file.

Step 7 - Re-Assemble

Reassemble your braking system for that wheel. Put the rotor back on and tighten into place. Add a little lubricant. Put your brake pads back on second and then add the wheel back on. Make sure everything is tight. Proceed to each wheel, as required.

Step 8 - Test Drive

Take your car out for a test drive on local roads first. Then venture onto highway or freeways.


If filing your rotors does not do the trick, take them into your mechanic and have the mechanic use what is called a rotor truing machine to take care of the major warps and cracks. The machine will reshape the rotor so that it can be used again.