How Many Times Can Brake Rotors Be Resurfaced?

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To resurface a brake rotor simply means the removal of a small part of the surface of the rotor usually with the aid of a brake lathe.

This helps to guard against water corrosion of the rotors and the deposits of dirt or debris on the brake pad themselves. Resurfacing is known to smoothen out any corrugations on the surface of the rotors that may lead to vibrations when braking the vehicle.

It is a lot cheaper to resurface than to replace the rotors altogether unless the brake rotors are severely damaged or compromised. All the same, the majority of brake experts prefer that you replace brake rotors after covering about 30 000  to 70 000 miles.

How often you resurface your rotors is mainly determined by how often you use them and also how carefully too, which is your driving habit.

However, on a general note, you are expected to resurface your brake rotors at least once after covering about 70 000 miles or so.

Doing this is strongly recommended even when the brakes are in perfect working condition. To be sure of the need for resurfacing your brake rotors, you should look out for any symptoms of uneven brake wear, excessive runout, heavy pitting of the brakes, spotting, grooving, hard spots in the brakes, or even cracking brakes.

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Do brake rotors need resurfacing?

Generally, your brake rotors may have to be resurfaced whenever you are conducting any major brake job or service.

Should your brake rotors exhibit symptoms of wearing unevenly or you observe some grooves in them, corrosion is most likely going to set in. In these situations, your best bet is to get the brake rotors resurfaced.

At other times, your brake rotors may need resurfacing when you observe that they have become warped or distorted from excessive heat.

It is also good to resurface them when the brake pads are worn out. Resurfacing brake rotors eliminates deposits on their surfaces until they become smooth and even once again.

Why do brake rotors need resurfacing?

The need to resurface your brake rotors becomes imperative whenever they exhibit signs of wearing differently at certain places on their surfaces.

Also, it is recommended that you should resurface your rotors when they are disfigured due to extreme heat situations. This is very common since intense heat is generated during braking due to extreme friction.

At other times, the need to resurface brake rotors could be as a result of worn brake pads or when the surface of the rotors becomes rough to the touch or inspection.

This is mostly caused by either corrosion due to regular contact with water or rust. In these situations, when you resurface the brake rotors, it removes some of the metal of the surface and that makes it smooth and even once more, although thinner.

Whenever you notice sudden vibrations, poor brake performance, or squeaking sounds during braking the vehicle, one of the first considerations should be faulty brake rotors that may require resurfacing, although other causes could manifest or show these symptoms as well.

Hence,  it is highly recommended that you conduct a thorough inspection or get brake experts to do the same on the vehicle.

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How can I resurface my brake rotors?

Resurfacing your brake rotor entails the removal of any deposits on its surface which is rough or pitted. As a result, the major approach is to ensure the meticulous removal of all such deposits or corrosion that involves part of the metal on the surface.

If this is not done, it is capable of wearing the brake system over time. To resurface the rotors, you may have to adopt certain logical steps.

Step 1

With the aid of a lug wrench, loosen the log bolts which keep the wheels of the vehicle in place. Thereafter, you should lift the vehicle with the aid of a jack and lower it onto jack stands placed at the corner where you plan to remove the affected rotor. Next, proceed to remove the wheel or wheels from the wheel well.

Step 2

This is where you should spray all the components of the brake with a suitable brake cleaner. These components include the rotors themselves, calipers, and all other brake parts too.

After that, make sure to wipe everything down using a clean piece of cloth or towel. Find the bigger caliper bolt which holds the brake caliper to its suspension or the caliper bracket.

They are most likely going to face the wheel arch or may be located on the top and bottom of the caliper itself. Make sure to remove them using the correct size of socket and ratchet.

Step 3

Next, you should slide the caliper off the rotor. To do this properly, you may have to apply some leverage to the caliper in rocking it sideways to press the caliper piston, which is enough to enable you to slide the caliper over its rotor.

Then, tie up the caliper to any nearby suspension component using a piece of wire or you can even support it such that it cannot drag on the soft brake line and affect it.

Step 4

This is the stage where you should remove the caliper bracket if your vehicle is fitted with it since not all vehicles use it to support the caliper.

Should there be a caliper bracket, its bolts will most likely be found on the top and bottom of the bracket. Make sure to put them all aside.

Step 5

Now, proceed to remove the set screw which holds the brake rotor in position if your car has one. This is because not all vehicles use a set screw for the rotors too.

If it is present, you can effectively remove it with a Philips, flathead, or even an Allen bit as well. Thereafter, you should pull the rotors right off the hub.

Step 6

It is now time to take the brake rotor to any nearby machine shop for turning. This is because the turning of rotors cannot be properly done by amateurs especially since the process involves both special equipment and skills too.

Finally, reinstall your rotors in the reverse order of the removal before replacing the wheels too and taking away the jack.

How long do resurfaced rotors last?

How long your brake rotors last will depend on several related factors such as the quality of the rotors themselves, your driving and braking habit as well as maintenance culture.

However, on a general note despite everything, your brake rotors should not last for less than between 30 000 and 70 000 miles, although there are good brake rotors that are capable of lasting for much longer than this range.

What happens if I exceed the number of times a brake rotor is being resurfaced?

If you should exceed the number of times brake rotors are expected to be resurfaced, there are very logical consequences.

As you resurface brake rotors, you are progressively making them thinner and thinner. At a certain stage, the rotors may become thinner than the recommended thickness by the manufacturers, which is inadvisable.

If that continues, there is the possibility of the rotors becoming so thin that will make them ineffective altogether. This is because they have become so thin that they can warp easily and are also not safe to use anymore since they can crack suddenly too.

Additionally, whenever brake rotors are resurfaced too many times, your brake is likely to become ineffective, cause vibrations in the car during braking or even generate squeaks and other noises when braking the vehicle.

Specifically, resurfaced brake rotors should be replaced after covering about 70 000 miles regardless of whether they are in perfect working conditions.

Therefore, before you resurface them, inspect for signs of wear, extreme runout, heavy pitting, spotting, grooving, presence of hard spots, and cracking.

Do all brake rotors resurface?

No, not all brake rotors can be resurfaced. This is because many vehicle manufacturers require that new brake rotors should be installed at the same time when you are changing any old brake pads.

This implies that the need to resurface such brake rotors is all but prevented completely. Regardless, however, most brake rotors can be resurfaced unless this condition is given by the automakers.

How Many Times Can Brake Rotors Be Resurfaced – Conclusion

Brake rotors are an integral part of the brake system without which the efficiency of your brakes is compromised.

Notably, since you cannot protect the brake system from regularly coming in contact with water, it is obvious that corrosion cannot be prevented. Due to corrosion, the surface of the rotors can accumulate deposits and become rough or uneven.

This is what necessitates resurfacing. However, there is a limit to which you can resurface since the rotors cannot be thinner than the specifications of the vehicle manufacturers.

Whenever it is recommended that resurfacing is not advised, it is best to replace the brake rotors whenever you are replacing the brake pads too. Fortunately, more vehicles have rotors that can be resurfaced compared to those which cannot.

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