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 rotor's friction surfaces that contact the brake pads will wear unevenly along 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 onto 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
Rotor-Cutting Machine in Action
Below, the operator adjusts the brake lathe cutting blades.
He sets the depth to which the rotors will be cut.
And in a few minutes the rotor is resurfaced.
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.
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