Brake Rotors - should one replace or resurface?



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Thread: Brake Rotors - should one replace or resurface?

  1. #1
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    Question Brake Rotors - should one replace or resurface?

    I can't recall reading about this previously so was anxious to hear comments/opinions from the various experts (including the most knowledgeable Chrysler service advisor). In my particular case it is academic as I have recently had both the front & rear rotors resurfaced however am now wondering if I did the correct thing.

    So when having the dealer install new disc pads (both front & rear) they advised that the rotors should be resurfaced (in earlier days I believe this was called turning or shaving the rotors). Both sets of rotors were within specs and thus could be resurfaced. Cost (in Canadian dollars) to resurface fronts was $160 and resurface rears was also $160. However now that they have been resurfaced they cannot be resurfaced again.

    Two basic questions -- 1. Which is the safest route to go - resurface or install new OEM rotors? 2. Approximately which is the most economical (parts & dealer installation included)?

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    I think they should always be resurfaced, as long as they are within tolerance. I don't think there is a safety issue either way, but a resurfaced rotor might be more apt to warp. However, at $80 per rotor, I'd be comparing the price of new ones.

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    As a general rule I replace instead of resurface. Why?
    1. The price of new rotors these days is relatively inexpensive.
    2. Modern rotor design is typically quite thin and given that the thermal mass of the rotor is already borderline not enough (especially for our vans), and given that resurfacing (or cutting or turning or shaving, same things) removes even more metal from the swept area (thus further reducing the thermal mass), I always recommend new rotors.
    3. I typically avoid OEM rotors as they're typically very expensive; if you shop around you should be able to find rotors which either meet the OEM spec for considerably less money, or rotors of superior metal composition (thinking brands like Brembo) for roughly the same money as the OEM units.
    Sold: 1998 DGC Sport 3.8 (Final odo: 178,000 miles)
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    I haven't "resurfaced" a brake rotor (or drum) in over 25years. Always replace with the best new I can find.

    In addition to Shipo's list, resurfacing doesn't resolve (possible) micro-fracturing within the rotor, and/or "hard spots" due to non-uniform heat stress and/or material imperfections in the rotor.

    But hey, it's only your life...

    -Jim

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    I always replace if they are scored. If not, I sand with 80 grit sand paper and throw some new pads on. Paying to resurface rotors doesn't make sense, and it reduces the heat capacity of the rotors.
    Candy the van. '98 Sport 3.8L 132,200 miles. Used trans at ~96k. Great piece of my life and a fine van.

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    I worked in a shop for about 5 years in the past, and have to disagree with some of the info on here.
    Resurfacing a rotor does not diminish its performance at all in any way, in fact, its better to resurface your rotors rather then buy new ones, because anytime you get new rotors, theres a chance your going to get a bad batch. Lots of over seas rotors=lots of really low standards. With your oem ones, at least you know they will work like they were when new. By shaving the rotor, you are removing only mm's from the disc, nothing to worry about.
    Im not sure if 160 is a fare rate however, since two new rotors shouldn't cost much more then that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pks17 View Post
    I worked in a shop for about 5 years in the past, and have to disagree with some of the info on here.
    Resurfacing a rotor does not diminish its performance at all in any way, in fact, its better to resurface your rotors rather then buy new ones, because anytime you get new rotors, theres a chance your going to get a bad batch. Lots of over seas rotors=lots of really low standards. With your oem ones, at least you know they will work like they were when new. By shaving the rotor, you are removing only mm's from the disc, nothing to worry about.
    Im not sure if 160 is a fare rate however, since two new rotors shouldn't cost much more then that.
    Sorry, have to disagree; thermal mass is thermal mass, and as the rotor mass for these vans is already borderline insufficient, any loss is significant. It seems your argument presumes that when a rotor is resurfaced, it is at or near its maximum thickness, and that typically is far from the truth. The difference between the design thickness when the rotor is new and the minimum thickness (stamped or cast into the rotor) is not all that great, and when you combine the loss of thickness from the wear associated with normal braking with the extra loss of the resurfacing, the reduction of thermal mass is quite significant.

    Said another way, by the time a rotor has been used for say 40,000 miles (the average lifespan of the rotors on our three vans) it is already measurably thinner and has less mass than when new; reduce its weight and thickness further by resurfacing, and most rotors these days will be approaching the minimum thickness.
    Sold: 1998 DGC Sport 3.8 (Final odo: 178,000 miles)
    Sold: 1998 Chrysler T&C LXi 3.8 (Final odo: 190,000 miles)
    Sold: 2003 DGC ES 3.8 (Final odo: 172,000 miles)
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    Resurface once is fine, if the price is right. That resurfacing (Post #1) was much too expensive.

    I usually just replace mine, with white box rotors, because it's more convenient and the price is about the same (new versus resurface).
    2007 GC SXT - Magnesium - S&G - 3.8L - 100,747 kms
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeepman View Post
    Resurface once is fine, if the price is right. That resurfacing (Post #1) was much too expensive.

    I usually just replace mine, with white box rotors, because it's more convenient and the price is about the same (new versus resurface).
    I suppose that might well be true when one lives in the frozen north when the number of really warm days of the year are few and far between, but I've warped too many rotors (especially on our vans) on hot days, and that's without even driving all that aggressively.

    Thinking back, the only time I've resurfaced a rotor since the mid 1970s was when I switched my 530i from the factory brake pads to a set of low dust PBR/Axxis pads after about 8,000 miles; there was was just a bit of asymmetry in the geometry of the swept surfaces so I had them resurfaced to bring them back to parallel.
    Sold: 1998 DGC Sport 3.8 (Final odo: 178,000 miles)
    Sold: 1998 Chrysler T&C LXi 3.8 (Final odo: 190,000 miles)
    Sold: 2003 DGC ES 3.8 (Final odo: 172,000 miles)
    1998 Audi A4 Quattro (5-Speed manual)
    2001 Honda Accord EX V6 (4-Speed automatic)
    2009 Mazda3 i Touring (5-Speed manual)
    2012 VW GTI (6-Speed manual)

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    It's fairly common here for the Dealerships to resurface the OE rotors "once". It's wise to clean the rust etc. out of the air spaces (vents) for the front rotors, rears are solid.

    I know of one shop that does auto body repair work, that orders up OE rotors, resurfaced once, from the recycle yards. They are delivered to his shop along with other parts. The price is competitive with getting rotors resurfaced locally, but more convenient than taking time going to a local shop.

    All four rotors on my 2007 were resurfaced before I bought it in May. They are working fine.

    Prices here for resurfacing would be $20.00 to $30.00, I'm guessing.
    2007 GC SXT - Magnesium - S&G - 3.8L - 100,747 kms
    2002 GC Sport - Stone White - 3.3L - 303,050 kms
    2003 Jeep TJ Sport - 4.0L - 244,100 kms

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