How to Remove Rear Brake Rotors

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Removing rear rotors on most any vehicle follows the same principles. There may be a few minor differences between makes and models; however, most variances occur with the caliper locations and how to compress the caliper pistons for reinstallation. Purchase a repair manual for your specific vehicle if you're considering performing repairs yourself to fully comprehend the correct procedure.

Things You'll Need

  • Floor jack
  • Jack stand
  • Wheel chock
  • 1/2-inch drive breaking bar
  • 1/2-inch drive socket set
  • 1/2-inch drive ratchet
  • 1/2-inch drive adjustable torque wrench
  • Turkey baster
  • DOT-approved brake fluid
  • Hammer/Heavy rubber mallet
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Bungee cord
  • Slide hammer with rotor/drum removal adapter (in some applications)
  • C-clamp or caliper compression kit
  • Park the vehicle on a level paved or concrete surface. Release the hood latch.

  • Place a wheel chock in front of one front tire and open the hood. Locate the master cylinder and suck out half the brake fluid from the reservoir using the turkey baster. Discard; do not reuse.

  • Break the lug nuts loose on the rear tires using the breaking bar and a socket.

  • Lift one rear quarter panel with the floor jack and place a jack stand in a secure and safe location to support the vehicle. The rear frame rail if the vehicle has one, the rocker panel or even the rear axle if the vehicle has one are usually good locations. Repeat the same procedure for the other side and elevate the rear axle.

  • Remove the lug nuts and wheels.

  • Remove the caliper bolts using the ratchet and a socket.

  • Pry the caliper off the rotor using a flathead screwdriver. In some applications, the pads are mounted to the calipers by clips, while in others the pads will remain in the caliper anchor. In either scenario, the piston of the caliper will most likely need to be compressed with a C-clamp or a caliper compression kit (which turns the piston of the caliper inward) and the pads removed.

  • Remove the pads from the caliper or from the caliper anchor. Support the caliper to the vehicle with the bungee cord, and do not allow it to dangle from the brake hose.

  • Remove the caliper anchor bolts using the ratchet and a socket. Remove the anchor.

  • Remove any rotor retaining rings that might be located on the lug studs. These rings can be discarded and do not require being replaced. Also, take note if there are any screws present in the hub of the rotor that are securing it to the hub. If so, remove them with a screwdriver. If no rings or screws are present, skip this step.

  • Remove the rotor. This may not be as easy as it sounds. Some rear rotors use the inside of their hubs as a makeshift drum for a small parking brake shoe. In these cases, the rotors may be caught on the shoe and will require being forced off. A slide hammer and adapter would help in this case, applying equal amounts of tenacity and caution.

  • For stubbornly rusted-on rotors, hammer them off if you're replacing the rotors. But if you're not replacing them, use a heavy rubber mallet so you do not incur damage to the rotor.

  • To replace, reverse the procedure. If you compressed the pistons of the calipers, you must pump the foot brake pedal to restore hydraulic pressure to the pistons before driving. After you've pumped the brake pedal, recheck and adjust the brake fluid level in the master cylinder, and add only new DOT-approved brake fluid specified for your vehicle.

  • Torque the lug nuts to the wheels with the torque wrench following the correct torque specifications for your vehicle.

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