Q: Can you resurface the rotor?

asked by on April 12, 2017

My drivers side brakes are grinding. As I'm looking around at prices, other places offer rotor resurfacing. Do you do that? Also, I would replace the pads for both front tires, but can I get just the drivers side rotor fixed, and what would be that price? If you can't resurface, how much is it to replace just the one?

Also, do you use the same parts that other shops do? I'm noticing most of them offer twice the warranty as yours, so I'm wondering if their parts are better.


My car has 112000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

You can not install new brake pads on a vehicle without either re-surfacing the brake rotor on a lathe or replacing the rotor with a new one. This is because allowed thickness variation on a rotor (new or used) is .001 inches, that is one-fourth the thickness of a human hair. Rotor runout, with the rotor installed on the wheel hub, has to be less than .002 inches. These extremely small tolerances cannot be achieved by re-using the old rotor as is. Rotor resurfacing, if desired by the customer instead of rotor replacement, is performed at off site professional machine shops but of course your used rotors have to first be measured to see if they are even serviceable. Measurement is performed in the field right at your location so you’ll know right away.

If you only refurbish the brakes on one side of an axle, you create a known, avoidable risk of pulling on braking. Due to the inherent safety hazard such creates, it’s not an acceptable repair procedure. If you’re working on your own car, of course, within reason, one can do whatever one wants, but with motor vehicle repair involving innocent members of the public we are ethically obligated to restore your brakes, quite frankly, to like new condition per the instructions in the Factory Service Manual (FSM). There is no FSM from any manufacturer that allows one side of axle refurbishment. So, to answer your question, both sides must be refurbished.

With regard to parts and warranties, the recommended brake parts for your vehicle are those supplied by the dealer, period. The next best option are brake parts from recognizable, reputable name brand OEM vendors such as AC Delco. Most rotors made in China, including all of the off brand rotors, are not high enough quality to be used as paperweights. If you want the correct parts for your vehicle, request OEM (dealer) parts. Often, they are even cheaper than aftermarket (really). As far as warranties, warranties are used in the modern era as a marketing tool. The fact of the matter is there is no statistical correlation whatsoever, of which I am aware, between longer warranties and higher quality parts. Indeed, the exact opposite is true if you simply consider that OEM dealer supplied parts have, by far, the SHORTEST warranties and yet any test done in a lab will prove the OEM parts to be far and away orders of magnitude better, in every respect including service LIFETIME, than any and all aftermarket knock-offs of the part. Aftermarket parts are a problem. Some are "acceptable", of course, but the problem is the time spent investigating each instance, to determine technical acceptability is enormously wasteful (I have done the exercise countless times) and so at this point I just tell people if you want the correct and most appropriate part, request the OEM part, and if you want it installed perfectly (according to ALL of the instructions) request a certified Mechanic from YourMechanic. With regard to your brakes, if you want the front axle refurbished by a certified mechanic, please request brake pad replacement and the mechanic will deal with the rotor issue as well once he or she measures your rotors and he or she will also get with you as to your desires on parts vendors. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you and thanks for your great questions, too!.

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