Rotors are usually made from a hard metal that is not only highly dense but also heat resistant. But the flip side is that such types of metal are prone to rusting especially when exposed to harsh conditions. This is why drivers should learn how to remove rust from rotor.
This results in a not-so-pleasant-looking rotor and it’s no surprise that many car owners are wondering how they can clean the rust out of their brake rotors.
Depending on the level of rust on the brake rotors, there are several ways that you can remove rust from the rotor.
One thing that you need to keep in mind when looking to clean your brake rotors is that you should never use a lubricant or even apply a permanent coating whenever you are cleaning the brake rotors.
For easier navigation throughout this post, feel free to use our table of contents below.
You may have left your car outside in the storm or you may even have washed your car and left it outside to dry only to come back and find that the brake rotors have accumulated some rust.
One thing for sure is that rust on any part of your vehicle is never a good sign. Combine this with the fact that the car’s braking system is among the most important parts of your vehicle and it’s easy to see why rust on brake rotors is a cause for concern.
Always making an inspection check on your vehicle’s brake rotors for signs of rust is always a good idea as it tells you if you need to do any maintenance.
Brake rotors are usually made from cast iron which is a hard material but is prone to rusting due to easy oxidation when the metal surface comes into contact with water or moisture.
However, when you buy some exotic cars, they will feature ceramic brakes that often do not get rust on their rotors. We are simply saying that the reason for rust on the rotors will come down to the type of material that the rotors are made from.
Therefore it doesn’t matter the ride height of your vehicle. Most vehicles will feature brake rotors that are made from cast iron.
Now that you are aware of why motors rust let’s find out what you need to do to remove rust from rotor.
Tools you’ll need
The materials you’ll need
Now that you have the materials and tools, let’s get started.
When the car has been sitting in the same area for several days. You are likely to find that the brake rotors have accumulated rust.
Rust can cause your brakes to fail when you need them to work such as when near a redlight camera.
Start by taking the car for a drive. You may want to make a few stops and then drive again to make sure that the rust is scrubbed off.
However if after driving you notice that there is still rust on the brake rotors it’s time to try a different type of driving. Find a road that is free of pedestrians or a street. Accelerate fast and come to a sudden stop.
A good speed is to get to 10mph and then brake instantly. Repeat this a couple of times and then get out of the car and check your brakes.
If you still find that the rotors still have rust it’s time to move to the next step.
Start by putting chocks at the wheels which you aren’t working on.
Start by loosening the lug nuts this time of the wheel that you will be working on. Then take a jack and lift up the wheel. You may also want to use a jack stand together with the jack use as a secondary safety feature.
Finally, take out the wheel which will now expose the brake rotor.
You can clean the brake rotors even while the brake pads and brake calipers are in place. However, it is more convenient to remove them.
To remove the brake calipers get a box end wrench and remove the bolts that hold the caliper assembly. Guide the pins onto the caliper bracket which will help to take out the calipers.
Now pick up the caliper assembly and remove it from the brake rotors and ensure you place it secondly on the wheel well.
This will prevent it from damaging the brake line. You may find that using an old cloth hanger can help you in this. That said it is also easy to get access to caliper hangers.
Furthermore, you may also want to loosen the bolts that hold the caliper bracket using a box end wrench.
Now that the bracket is not held together take the time to inspect the brake pads and see if you can find glazing on the surfaces.
Secondly, now that you have taken out the brake calipers and pads, inspect the thickness of the pads. If you find that they are less than 4mm, it’s time to change the pads and replace them with new ones.
Moreover, you want to inspect the caliper piston boots as well as the guide pin boots and see if you can spot tears.
If there is any damage to these boots then moving parts will be exposed to dirt as well as corrosion which if left unchecked could cause the to fail. You must address them the right way.
Take a tray and place it under the brake rotors to help catch the runoff. Next spray brake cleaner on the surface of the brake rotors. Give it some time to dry off and then use a dry cloth to wipe it clean.
If you notice that there is still some rust left, spray some more brake cleaning on the surface and then wipe off with the dry cloth. Repeat this process until the brake rotors are clean.
After all, you want your Shelby Supersnake to look good both on the inside and the outside.
Remember that we said that you could still clean the brake rotors while leaving the brake calipers in place? The area that is covered by the brake calipers will still require cleaning. This will then mean moving the rotors to access this area.
Even while the brake cleaner isn’t going to harm the brake lining, it is still possible for an excessive application to affect the lining adhesion so it is a good idea not to go overboard with this.
Sometimes the rust on the brake rotors could be so severe that you will need to try an alternative cleaning method.
This may require you to remove the entire rotor which you can do by using an impact screwdriver which you can use to then loosen the anchor screw. You can then slide the rotors off the lugs.
You can use a commercial cleaner such as Evapo-Rust and CLR which can help to take out that stubborn rust on that Honda Civic or any other car model. The great thing with these products is that they will remove rust from the rotor without any damage to the metal underneath.
Take steel wool and scrub and ensure that you do not scour the surface of the brake rotors. Now rinse and then wipe the surface of the brake rotors with a clean cloth.
After you’re satisfied that the brake rotors are now clean, repeat the processes we mentioned above to put back the rotors and the brake calipers in place. You may need to use a C-clamp which will retract the piston that is located in the caliper assembly which will then allow it to fit over the brake assembly.
After putting back the wheel and the lug nuts you will torque the lug nuts after you have taken off the jack and the wheel is in contact with the ground.
Remember that cleaning the rotors is more about aesthetics since using the car normally and the brakes will normally help keep the brake rotors clean and free of rust.
You may also want to improve the appearance even further by painting the non-contact parts of the wheel.
If you have been looking to replace the brake rotors, consider applying brake caliper paint and ensure that you tape off the braking surface. This will help prevent contamination.
Also, ensure that you paint the dome that will fit over the hub.
You can then use brake cleaner and apply a bit on a cloth. This should remove any paint residue from the tape.
If you’ve been wondering how you can remove rust from the rotor, then you should know that there are several methods that you can use.
This method will require you to remove the brake rotors. Having done this, use sandpaper to scrub away the rust.
Since there will be more rust left you will need to take vinegar and add it to a container. Add in salt until the vinegar has been completely saturated with the salt.
Take your brake rotors and place them inside the bucket with this solution. The vinegar helps to eat away at the rust whole while salt helps to remove any hard particles.
You will leave the rotors in the solution for 12 hours or more.
Having done this remove the brake rotors and use a wire brush to scrub off the rust then rinse with clean water and wipe the surfaces of the rotors with a dry cloth. This will help to prevent further rusting.
Once the rotors are completely dry, you can reinstall them in the car.
If the rusting on your brake rotors is a bit more severe to come out using the method above you may want to consider a rust converter.
This is a chemical that can combine with rust and provide a coating. Note that the rust converter doesn’t remove rust from the rotor. Also, all it will do is stop the further spreading of the rust.
You may also want to consider a rust removal spray. This results in a chemical reaction with the rust which causes it to come off.
After spraying you need to scrub the rust off using a brush. You will then need to wipe off with a clean and dry cloth to reveal a clean smooth and shiny surface.
Note that when you are using a wire brush you should never overdo it as it will create creases on the surface of the brake rotor.
Many people are still shocked at how effective removing rust using common toothpaste is.
All you will need is toothpaste, foil, a glove, a dry cloth, a wire brush, and an old toothbrush.
Start by taking any brand of toothpaste and adding it to a small container. Add water and steer until what you are left with is a paste.
Apply this paste to your brake rotors assuming that you have already removed the rotors from the brakes. Apply all over the rusted surface of the brake rotors.
Next, take the aluminum foil and fold it in such as way that it will cover the entire surface of the rotors. Apply a weight such as a book on top of the aluminum foil after covering the rusty brake rotor. Let this sit for at least 12 hours.
After this, remove the aluminum foil and use a wire brush to scrub off the rust from the brake rotor. Next rinse the brake rotor with clean water and use the dry cotton cloth to dry the surface. This will take away the moisture and prevent further rusting.
Install the brake rotors back on the car.
Using sandblasters is the most effective way to get rid of all that rust. The only major downside is that it is also the most expensive method.
For it to work you will need a couple of things. These include WD-40, some steel wool as well as an industrial-grade room or cabinet.
You must ensure that you’ve covered all other areas surrounding the working space to prevent sand from getting to unwanted areas.
Start by spraying the WD-40 on the brake rotors and then scrubbing with steel wool.
Next, take the brake rotor and secure it inside the blast chamber. Ensure that you also add in sufficient rusting material and ensure it’s sealed up completely using the duct tape which will be wrapped several times over the blast chamber door.
Now activate the machine and allow it to run for 15 minutes. This will ensure sufficient time to wash all the rusty materials away.
Now you can take out the brake rotors and rinse them with clean water. You will then need to wipe them off with a clean cloth and re-install them back inside the car.
One thing about having rust on your brake rotor is that it is not the most pleasant sight. It looks like you have neglected the vehicle and that the car is in terrible shape.
Furthermore, waiting until there is an accumulation of rust on the brake rotors will demand more work to clean off the rust than if you were to prevent the rust from occurring in the first place.
There the several ways and steps that you can take that can help prevent rust from forming on your brake rotors. Let’s find out.
One of the most annoying things is when you spend a considerable amount of your time cleaning the car only to have brown rust covering the brake rotors. It can seem like you didn’t even clean your car.
This is how you can prevent such rust from happening.
Start by cleaning both the wheels and the tires with a wheel cleaner. You can use a product such as P&S Brake Buster. Some drivers have found that it is easier to apply the product using a foam cannon which does well to cover the entire wheel. This is because it foams well.
Allow the foam to remain on the wheel for 2 to 3 minutes and then agitate the wheel. You can do this with the help of a wheel cleaning brush. You can also agitate the tires using a tire cleaning brush.
Having done this rinse the rites and wheels with clean water. The great part is that you can get a small amount of rust protection from the Brake Buster but not enough to fully prevent rusting.
Start by spraying Hyde’s Rustopper which is a rust prevention product on the whole rotor using a sweeping motion before you can apply it on the next wheel. The great part is that you can use this product with any type of brake rotor material including alloy and steel wheels.
Repeat this process on all the other wheels and then you’ll be done with the washing process.
After you have finished washing the wheels and rotors of the car and before you can even dry the rotors, move the car backward and then forward while applying the brakes to make sure that the rotors are scrubbed and that they are all dry.
Use a leaf blower if available to blow at the car wheels and the brake rotors. This will help get rid of any moisture that may be on the rotors and that could potentially contribute to the rust.
One of the main benefits of painting your calipers is that it adds to the appeal of the vehicle. It makes the wheels look stylish and good.
Furthermore, applying a coat of paint can also be a good way to help prevent the rotors and the calipers from rusting.
Even better is that using the right paint will help prevent dirt from forming and accumulating on the rotors and the calipers.
If you choose to paint the rotors, it is paramount that you apply the paint in the right way.
Let’s take a closer look at painting the rotors.
When painting the rotors you want to ensure that you don’t apply the paint on the disc surface. This is because the brake pads will not be able to properly get the right grip onto the vehicle.
Also, take note of rotor coatings. This is not the same thing as the rotor paint. The rotor coating is often applied to the rotors when the brakes are new.
Also, note that when painting the rotors you will be applying paint in the rotor hat for the sake of aesthetics. The paint will help prevent corrosion in the area and will also help the car look super cool.
The brake cleaner breaks down the dirt and debris and the rust that accumulates on the brakes. It is made up of special chemicals that help break down the dirt and this makes it easy to clean the brakes. Spray brake cleaner on the affected area and wipe with a dry cloth. Repeat the process until the results are satisfactory.
You can clean the brake calipers in the same way as you can clean the rotors. Use brake rotor cleaner and spray it on the calipers. Wipe out the dirt with a cloth. Repeat the process until the brake calipers are clean.
You can clean the rust from the brake rotors using a brake rotor cleaner. Here you will apply the chemical to the affected area and let it sit for a while. Then wipe out the brake rotors with a clean cloth. Repeat the process until the rotors are clean.