Resurface Rotors

Resurface Rotors – Is This A Good Idea?

Have you learned about rotor resurfacing and you are looking for a way to resurface rotors? Well, if this is the case, then you are at the right place because we are going to cover everything when it comes to how to resurface rotors.

Brake rotors are one of the most bulletproof components in our cars. But as the miles climb upon them, they slowly but surely wear down. For some they wear even quicker if they decide to throw their car on the track and give it a good run for its money.

And if you are one of those folks, you definitely will be looking at how to resurface rotors. Since you don’t want to replace them every few thousand miles. Not to mention that brake rotors are one of the components that guarantee your safety on the road. So, if you have an issue such as warped rotors. It could get quite bumpy when you press on the brake pedal. But more on that later in the article.

First, we will learn what are brake rotors and the types of brake rotors that are out there. After that we are going to cover the bad brake rotor symptoms and how to resurface rotors and at what cost. We will also list the pros and cons of resurfacing and we will discuss whether to replace or resurface brake rotors. So, if you want to learn more on this topic, follow along.

What Are Brake Rotors?

Now before we learn more about how to resurface rotors, let’s learn more about what are brake rotors in general. This will be quite useful for beginners who are new when it comes to cars and want to learn more about them. If you are more experienced, you can jump to the next chapter, if not, keep up with us for a bit.

So, what is a brake rotor? Well, a brake rotor is simply a component of your braking system. This means that this one component is an important piece of the puzzle.

The rotor generally is a big steel disc that usually on modern cars is composed of two discs with space in between them to aid the cooling of this component and prevent warping. More on warped rotors we will cover later on.

What is important for you is that these brake rotors play a big role when it comes to stopping your vehicle. But how do they work?

Resurface Rotors

Well, they work in a way in which they rotate with the wheel. Then when you slam on the brakes, you basically are applying pressure to these rotors with the brake pads. So, there is friction that develops between the rotor and the pad.

This friction basically makes the car come to a stop. This is a really effective way of stopping the car in comparison to some older designs such as the drum brakes which easily got really hot and malfunctioned.

Nowadays, brake rotors are the mainstream and every car uses them, at least on the front end. But they have downsides. And that is their cost. So, a lot of people choose to resurface rotors. More on that in a bit, let’s first cover the types of rotors.

Types Of Brake Rotors

Now before we learn how and where you can resurface rotors, let’s take a look first at the type of rotors that are out there. It is worth noting that there are a few types of them depending much on the application that they are intended for.

The first type of rotors are the blank rotors, or smooth as some people call them. These rotors can be a single-piece disc for some classic vehicles. Or if you are driving a more modern car, they are made out of two discs that are bonded together in order to improve the cooling of the rotors.

The blank rotors are also the cheapest of the bunch. Costs a fraction of the cost that some high-performance rotors cost.

The second type of rotor would be drilled rotors. These rotors basically as their name implies are drilled with a drill bit with special patterns. These holes are created to improve the cooling of the rotor as well as to improve the braking ability of the car.

The third type of rotors would thus be slotted rotors. These rotors are specifically machined with slots instead of holes. You will notice these slots like thick lines that are indented into the rotor. This also improves the cooling ability of the rotor and prevents warping.

The last type that we will discuss is the drilled and slotted rotors. These types of rotors are basically both drilled and slotted. They are used on high-performance cars that are used on the track and are the most expensive out of the bunch. But how to resurface rotors? More on that in a bit.

What Is Brake Rotor Resurfacing?

Now let’s cover the basics before we learn how to resurface rotors and that is what is brake rotor resurfacing in general?

In simple words, brake rotor resurfacing is a procedure that is performed on your brake rotor. This is a special procedure that has the task to take out some of the material on the rotor and make it smooth again.

This procedure in the past was mainstream and a lot of people were doing it. Nowadays people just want to replace rotors. But still, most of the shops are doing this procedure on your car. And the cost to resurface rotors is really low. You can also do it by yourself in your garage. And later on, we are going to learn how to resurface brake rotors DIY.

What is important for you is the necessity to resurface rotors. This process has to be done if you want proper contact with the brake pad.

If your rotors are not resurfaced, you will end up with brake pads that do not work. They will produce a ton of noises and you will basically ruin the new pads.

Not to mention that your car will not want to come to a stop when you are running it with rotors that are not resurfaced. So, you need to find a way to resurface rotors to avoid some of these outcomes.

But how you can tell if your rotor needs resurfacing? What are the tell-tell signs that this procedure has to be performed? Let’s elaborate in the next chapters on this before we dive into the procedure of how to resurface rotors.

Signs That Your Rotors Need Resurfacing

Now as we learned briefly what is the procedure of resurfacing and why you should resurface rotors. Let’s now focus more on the signs that your rotors need resurfacing.

How you can tell which rotor needs to be resurfaced? This is very important to know because sometimes even if you replace the brake pads, you don’t have to resurface the rotors. Not all cars are designed like that for you to require rotor resurfacing. But more on that in the following chapters. So, follow along.

1. Wear Marks

The first sign that you need to resurface rotors are the wear marks on the rotor. Rotors that were used and abused until the brake pads were left without material are getting damaged.

This type of damage will be in the form of small grooves across the whole rotor. You will notice these grooved lines all over the rotor.

This is why you should not allow the pads to wear too much. Because they will eventually wear so much that the backplate of the pad which is metal will start to rub against the rotor. And this is a lot of damage to your rotor. In this situation, you need to find a way to resurface brake rotors or for a brake rotor replacement cost. There is not a third option on the table, unfortunately.

2. Big Outer Edge

The second sign that you need to resurface rotors is the big outer edge of the rotor. On most carmakers, rotors are designed in this way. Which is not cool in my opinion. But it is what it is.

The carmakers basically design the rotor to wear evenly with the pad. There is an edge around the rotor that doesn’t wear down as the rotor wears.

This is a trick the carmakers pull off in order for you to purchase new rotors and not to resurface rotors. It is not always the case, but for some carmakers, it is the case.

The rotor simply does not wear in the same manner. So, if you don’t resurface rotors and install new pads on a rotor like this, your new pads will not work. They will squeak and the car will not stop. This is why you need to notice if you have a big lip on the outer side and if you have, you need to resurface brake rotors if you want the new pads to work well with the rotor.

3. Warped Rotors

The last sign that you need to resurface rotors is the situation when some of these rotors get warped. Yes, that’s right, rotors can get warped.

And in fact, when you have this situation it is advised that you replace them completely because the car is not safe anymore. But what is warped rotors in general?

Well, a warped rotor is a rotor that is basically tweaked slightly at some point. But how does this happens in the first place? Well, this situation often happens in cars.

Especially if you drive through deep water. There are a ton of heat cycles in the life of the rotor. But what’s useful to know is that rotors cannot stand extreme heating and cooling cycles.

So, you need to be really cautious when you drive in deep water. If your brakes are really hot, the rotors will get warped.

In most cases, you will need to replace these rotors. Even if it’s only a small warp, you might get away by only doing a rotor resurfacing. And here we come to a really important question, replace or resurface rotors? Let’s elaborate in the following chapter.

Replace Or Resurface Rotors?

Now comes the big question and that is to replace or resurface rotors? I bet that there are a ton of people that are thinking about whether to replace or resurface brake rotors and we need to elaborate on this in-depth so you make the right decision.

Replacing the rotors will be the way to go if you have a bigger budget. New rotors are not comparable to used rotors. Mainly because used rotors are also cracked in some cases or warped. A new rotor will outperform anything out there when it comes to braking ability. That’s why if you don’t work with a limited budget, a new set of rotors will be your best bet.

On the other hand, if you want to resurface rotors, that is an option as well. But only if your rotors are in good condition. What does this mean?

Well, this means that you should resurface rotors only if your rotors are worn slightly. If they have a really big lip on the outer side, it means that there is not a lot of metal left for you to work on.

A brake rotor should only be resurfaced once during its lifetime. If you decide to keep resurfacing the rotors, you will end up with a really unsafe vehicle, you just don’t want to have brakes that are paper-thin. So, beware of this problem.

When To Resurface Rotors

Now let’s learn when you should resurface rotors. This should also be regulated with an interval. You just cannot resurface the rotor and put it back together and keep on driving because if the pads are bad, they will ruin the newly resurfaced surface on your rotors.

So, when you should resurface the rotors? Well, this procedure should only be done when you change the pads. Without changing the pads, I wouldn’t recommend resurfacing your rotors.

This way, you will have a clean sheet of paper, and your brakes will work like brand new in the upcoming future.

If this is the first time you resurface the rotors, you could easily squeeze another 50,000 miles out of them. As we said, we don’t recommend you resurface rotors two or three times if you want to be safe. But how you can resurface brake rotors DIY? We all know that you can do this at a shop, but what about doing it at home? Let’s elaborate.

How To Resurface Rotors DIY?

Now let’s learn how to resurface rotors DIY, is this possible to do this work at home using common tools? Well, it is. But it has some downsides. What are these downsides?

Well, the main downside of resurfacing the rotor at home is that you will not be able to resurface it perfectly. We humans do not have the precision that a machine has. So, you need to be prepared that the results that you will get will not be perfect and you could experience problems such as vibrations when braking. But how you can resurface brake rotors at home?

Well, the simplest thing that you could use is an angle grinder. If you use a proper pad that is gentle, you could mimic the factory finish.

Also, applying the right amount of pressure when you are performing this work is crucial when doing a job like this.

The best result you will get is if you put some weight on top of the grinder. Add some big steel pieces. Then slowly move the angle grinder. Don’t apply too much pressure on only one spot. But move the grinder evenly around the rotor. This way you will get the best result.

In the end, you can use a polish pad to give it that nice mirror finish. Overall, this is the procedure when it comes to resurfacing rotors.

Cost To Resurface Rotors

So, what is the cost to resurface rotors? Well, the lowest cost for this work is about $10 per rotor but the prices go up to $25 depending on the shop where you do this work. It is really cheap.

So, if you are doing this for the first time on your rotors, it is a no-brainer decision to make. Mainly because you will have a brand new rotor at the end.

But be careful that your rotors are not cracked or warped. In these situations, the best decision will be to replace these components completely and avoid getting your life in danger. But what about resurface rotors near me. Where is the nearest place to do this work? Let’s cover that next.

Resurface Rotors Near Me

Resurface rotors near me? How to find the best place when it comes to resurfacing rotors? Well, there are a ton of places where you can do this work and resurface rotors across the whole country.

There are a lot of chains like Mr.Tire, Firestone Complete Auto Care, O’Reilly’s, and other chains. I’ve heard that O’Reilly’s has one of the cheapest prices that go even up to $10 per rotor and that is insane value for what you get. That’s why resurface rotors and keep driving safely. But what about replacing? Let’s elaborate more on that next.

Brake Rotor Replacement Cost

We learned how to resurface rotors and resurface rotors near me, now let’s take a look at what is the brake rotor replacement cost. Let’s say that your rotors are too worn out or warped, in this case, they desperately need to be replaced. What is the average cost to replace them?

Resurface Rotors

Well, the parts alone are really affordable. You can get two rotors and brake pads for about $100 to $140.

What is expensive is the labor for this task. The hourly rate is about $50 to $100. So, you can expect to pay at least two to three hours of labor for this. The grand total to get this work done would be around $300 on average. Still, some cars have more expensive parts, so don’t take this for granted.


In this article, we covered quite a bit when it comes to how to resurface rotors. We started with the basics of what is a brake rotor and the types of brake rotors that are out there.

Then we discussed the signs that indicate that you are dealing with bad rotors that require resurfacing (once you know how to tell if rotor is bad). After that, we learned when resurfacing is essential and how to resurface rotors, and the cost to resurface rotors.


Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

What Are Rotors On A Car

Brake rotors are also known as brake discs. These rotors are integral components of your braking system. The rotors work with the pads when you apply the brake pedal so consequently the car comes to a stop.

How To Tell If Rotor Is Bad

You can tell if a rotor is bad if it has grooved lines in it, or if it has a big lip on the outer edge. Another way to tell if the rotor is bad is if you notice that cracking has developed on the rotor or the rotor is warped. In this case, resurface rotors is not recommended and you should replace the damaged rotor with a new unit.

How Long Do Brake Rotors Last

Rotors on average last about 30,000 to 50,000 miles depending on your driving style. After this mileage, you will have to replace the pads. And when you replace the pads you will also have to resurface the rotors. A resurfaced rotor can even last up to 80,000 miles with no problem.

Do You Have To Resurface Rotors When Changing Pads

Yes, you have to resurface rotors when you are changing the pads. If you don’t do this process the new pads will not work well with the old rotor and you will have a big problem.

How To Resurface Rotors

You can do this at home using a grinding tool and a fine pad. Take your time and apply gentle force around the whole rotor. After a few passes, the rotor will be perfectly good and ready for action. Still, doing this at home is not like doing it at a shop. So, doing this work at a shop is recommended.

How Much Does It Cost To Resurface Rotors

The average cost is between $10 and $25. A small price for the result that you will get. You will have perfectly working rotors for the price of a cup of coffee.

Can You Resurface Drilled And Slotted Rotors

Yes, you can resurface drilled and slotted rotors, they are no different than regular rotors when it comes to this type of work. So, resurface your rotors and drive safe on the road.

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