Regardless of whether you live in a dry climate or a humid one, it's common to see rust on a vehicle's front and rear brake rotors. Rusty rotors don't look very appealing, but look around a bit and you'll see you're not the only driver suffering from this problem. There's no sure-fire, 100 per cent cure; otherwise, everyone would have shiny rotors. But there are a few steps to take to reduce the rust or inhibit the rusting process.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Lug wrench
- Wheel chocks
- Jack stand
- Ratchet handle
- Wire brush
- Shop rag
- Brake rotor paint
- Torque wrench
Raise the car with a jack and support it on a jack stand positioned at the jack point nearest the raised wheel. Place wheel chocks against the front or rear tires to prevent the vehicle from rolling. Loosen then remove the lug nuts with a lug wrench then pull off the wheel.
Pull off the wheel to expose the brake rotor.
Remove the rotor by removing the bolts on the brake caliper housing. Once you lift off the caliper housing, you'll be able to pull off the rotor.
Brush off any excess or flaked rust with a wire brush.
Spray WD-40 on a rag and wipe the rotors thoroughly. Be sure to wipe the edges, where rust build-up is common.
Paint the rotors with high-temperature brake rotor paint, according to the instructions on the bottle. Let the rotors dry completely.
Slide the rotors back onto the hubs and return the brake caliper housing to its original position. Bolt the housing back into place with its mounting bolts.
Remount the wheel and reinstall the lug nuts. Raise the vehicle with the jack, remove the jack stands then lower the vehicle to the ground. Tighten the lug nuts with the lug wrench and remove the wheel chocks.
Repeat this process on the other three wheels.
Tips and warnings
- If you drive your vehicle in winter conditions where the roads are salted, you may have to repaint the rotors once every year or two.
- Zinc- or cadmium-coated brake rotors will rust a lot less and, in some climates, not at all. They're a pricey alternative, but it may be worth exploring if you want to reduce your rust without regular maintenance.
- Hard braking may grind some rust off. Go to an empty car park and slam on the brakes while driving slowly. Repeat this process a few times and you should see less rust on your rotors.
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