If you never learned how to change brake rotors, but the brake rotors are giving you all the signs they’re done, then you’ve come to the right place. If you hear a scraping or squealing noise or you feel a pulsing brake pedal, then it’s definitely time to change them out. Typically, the brake rotors are changed at the same time as the brake pads. If they haven’t worn down much and they’re not warped, you may even be able to get them refinished at a local shop. Regardless, you’ll need to take your wheels off, so you may as well learn how to get the job done. The tips I’ve included here will help to make brake rotor changes in the future much easier. The process itself is pretty straight forward and will allow your car to stop on a dime the way it used to.
How to change brake rotors can be done in twelve simple steps:
- Loosen the wheel nuts and jack up your vehicle
- Depress brake pedals
- Unbolt brake caliper fasteners
- Unbolt caliper from two bracket bolts
- Remove the caliper from the rotor
- Take the brake rotor from the wheel studs
- Match the new rotor with the old and clean them
- Compress the caliper piston
- Slide the caliper onto the rotor
- Clean the guide pins and slide them back into place
- Add brake fluid
- Reinstall the wheels
And that’s all there is to it.
Keep on reading to learn about the steps you need to take, the tools you’ll use to get the job done, and how long it should take you to replace your brake rotors.
Tools and Supplies
For this job, you’ll need to pick up the following:
- Lubricant thread locker
- Brake caliper
- Disc brake rotors
- C clamp
- Bungee cords
- Torque wrench
- Brake cleaner
- Brake fluid
- Allen wrench
- Breaker bar
- Star wrench
- WD 40
- Brake cleaner
You can expect this job to take you approximately one to two hours.
Replacing Your Rotors
In the past, many mechanics actually recommended just having the rotors rotated, but since the cost of rotors has gone way down over the years, I recommend just replacing them. You’ll definitely need to replace them if you notice a shimmy or pulse when you brake, or if they show signs of cracking, glazing, or bluing.
Begin by loosening the wheel lug nuts slightly. Next, you’ll need to jack up your vehicle and make sure you secure it using jack stands.
Next, work on depressing the brake pedals at least twenty times. This is done in order to release any remaining pressure. You can then take the lug nuts off and get that wheel off.
For the third step in the process, you’ll focus on unbolting the brake caliper fasteners. There should be two of them found on the rear of the caliper. Since the caliper opens upwards, you should begin by unbolting the bottom fastener in order to make it easier to remove the brake pads. Now you can take out the pads and unbolt the last caliper fastener. Don’t forget to use WD 40 if you’re struggling to unbolt rusted bolts on the caliper. If you’re dealing with a stuck bolt, try using a hammer for impact around the bolt to loosen it up quickly. Keep in mind, there are some caliper fasteners that will require special tools in order to remove them. These tools can include an Allen wrench or a star wrench. If you’re not sure what tools you need, take a look behind the caliper.
Now you’re ready to unbolt the caliper from the two bracket bolts located on the steering knuckle. You may need to use a long wrench or a breaker bar for leverage since these bolts are pretty large. If the bolts are rusted make sure you spray them down well prior to attempting to loosen them. When you remove rusted or worn rotors you can also use a hammer and some WD 40 to make the job easier.
Next, you’ll take the caliper off the rotor. Hang the caliper from the strut using a bungee cord or heavy wire. You should never allow a caliper to hang from the brake line since this can end up damaging the brake line, resulting in another repair you’ll have to tackle.
This step will involve taking the brake rotor from the wheel studs. If they won’t budge because of corrosion or rust, use your hammer and impact the bottom and top of the rotor’s face, using a back and forth motion in order to loosen it up.
Now, match the new rotor with the old one and check that the diameters are a match. Clean the new rotor on both sides using some brake cleaner. This will remove residue or oil. This is especially important since an oily brake will not stop well. If you’ve decided to go ahead and change out the brake pads, this is a good time to do so.
In order for the caliper to slide back on the rotor, you may need to compress the caliper piston. You can use a caliper spreading tool or a C clamp to get the job done. If you decide on a C clamp, make sure you position the clamp correctly on the back of the piston and the old brake pad, then tighten it up. Doing so will ensure that the piston evenly recesses into the cylinder.
Now you’re ready to slide the caliper onto the rotor. Use a little thread locker on the bolts for the steering knuckle, which helps to ensure that the bolts remain locked.
Make sure you thoroughly clean the guide pins and grease them using caliper lubricant before you slide them inside. This ensures that the brakes and calipers function correctly, even in the event of high temperatures. Keep in mind that if you’re using a caliper lubricant you should choose a high temp grease, one that’s rated and approved for this specific job.
Now you’re ready to add some brake fluid and check out the brake pedals. You may also need to bleed the brakes. However, bleeding the brakes only needs to be done if you opened the brake bleed valve or changed the brake pads. If you only changed the rotors then this step will not be necessary.
Now you can reinstall the wheels and test out your brakes carefully and slowly before you hit the streets.
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How Can I Make My Car Sound Like a Muscle Car?
In recent years, many car enthusiasts have fallen back in love with muscle cars and have searched for affordable alternations they can try on their cars and trucks in order to give them a more custom look. One of these alterations involves making their car louder, which can be done in a variety of ways. Yet, since many states have strict emission laws in place, some methods may not be street legal.
The easiest way you can make your car sound more powerful is to remove the muffler. However, you can also alter the muffler or use other accessories to achieve a louder sound. Before you touch your muffler make sure you check out your state’s emission laws in order to determine whether or not altering the muffler is legal. To learn more, click here to read my article on how to make car sound louder.
Is It Easy to Change the Brake Rotors?
As you can see here, yes it is. Of course, you’ll need to carefully follow all of the steps and make sure you clean each of the parts I’ve detailed here. If you follow my guide accordingly you can save a lot of time by changing out the brake rotors on your own, in just an hour or two.
As you can see, learning how to change brake rotors is much easier than it sounds. By following my guide you can easily change out the rotors on your own and have your car up and ready to go in just an hour or two. You’ll also find the task much easier the next time around, especially if you had to deal with rusty or corroded bolts this time.