How To Resurface a Brake Rotor on a Rotor Cutting Machine (With Video)

Updated on June 12, 2020
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Hardlymoving writes about do-it-yourself automobile maintenance on various makes and models.

A newly resurfaced brake rotor
A newly resurfaced brake rotor

Should You Replace or Resurface the Brake Rotors at Every Brake Pad Replacement?

That's how I do it: with every brake pad replacement service that I perform on a customer's car, I have the rotors resurfaced.

As brake pads wear with your daily driving, the surfaces that contact the brake pads—the brake disc rotor's contact friction surfaces—will wear unevenly with the pads. This is a long-drawn-out process that may take years before you notice wheel vibration.

That vibration is caused by formation of peaks and valleys on the rotor unseen by the naked eye. During the braking process, the brake pads apply pressure on to the rotating brake disc to slow down or stop the car. Unless the rotor's metal contact surface with the pads are flat, the pads will oscillate, causing wheel vibration that you can feel when it travels to the brake pedal and steering wheel. The harder you press down on the brake pedal, the greater the vibration. This situation will not get better over time; rather, it'll get worse.

The only solution is to have the brake rotors resurfaced, or if there's not enough material to cut—that is, the rotor has reached its minimum width—the rotors must be replaced. If the rotors are resurfaced beyond their minimum width, the rotors tend to overheat and warp and the vibration will reappear.

In addition, rotors can corrode from the inside out, via the cooling fins, and the cast iron can exhibit hairline cracks. In either case, the rotors must be replaced.

A Rotor Resurfacing Machine in Action

O'Reilly's Auto Parts provides a rotor resurfacing service for $10 a rotor. This is a more-than-reasonable price for this service. Since I've performed hundreds of brake rotor resurfacing tasks, my local O'Reilly's manager let me use his machine to video how a resurfacing procedure is done.

In the video below, I demonstrate how I resurface brake rotors on a brake rotor cutting machine.

Video: Cutting and Resurfacing a Brake Rotor

Adjusting the brake lathe cutting blades
Adjusting the brake lathe cutting blades
Setting the cutting blade angle and depth
Setting the cutting blade angle and depth
Cutting / resurfacing the brake rotor
Cutting / resurfacing the brake rotor

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 hardlymoving

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