Brake Rotor Replacement

Brake rotors are a wear item and need to be replaced when they've worn down to a certain level. The front rotors are really easy to replace, but the rear ones are a bit difficult due to the handbrake system.

A special tool is required to wind the handbrake caliper pistons back into the calipers. I bought a couple different kits from Amazon, but each was too large to fit into the caliper and neither had the right adapter plate for the caliper piston. I eventually took the closest adapter plate to what I needed and filed it down to a size that would work, then used needle-nose pliers to twist the adapter and wind the piston back into the caliper. I'll update this DIY guide with a link to the correct tool once I've found it so you don't have to go through that, too.

DISCLAIMER: As always, follow all safety protocols. Don't undertake this task if you aren't comfortable with it and fully understand it. You are ultimately responsible for anything you do. Neither Redpants, LLC or myself is responsible or liable for anything that may occur.

Jack and jack stands or a car lift
Tools to remove the wheels
Tools and supplies for brake pad job
Handbrake caliper tool
10mm Hex bit
T40 Torx bit
13mm socket
Ratchets for the above bits and socket
Pair of 20mm box-end wrenches
13mm wrench
Rubber mallet
Anti-seize compound
Brakleen or similar product
About 3 hours

Before you begin!!

  • New bolts should be used when working on the braking system. In this job, that includes caliper mounting bolts and rotor retention bolts.

  • Torque specs sometimes include torque angle. To measure torque angle, you need a torque angle gauge.

  • Do not let the brake calipers hang from the brake hoses. The weight of the calipers can damage the hoses, even if you don't see the damage. This can result in a severe loss of braking.

  • Do not get anti-seize or anti-squeal on anything other than the surfaces that need them. If either of these get on the brake pad friction material or brake rotor surface where the pads make contact with the rotor, you can have a severe loss of braking.

  • Follow the bed-in procedures of your brake rotor and brake pad manufacturer. This is very important to ensure your brakes operate as intended.

  • A properly-functioning brake system is an incredibly important part of safety. Do not cut corners and make sure you do things the right way!

Step 1
Get the car on jack stands or use a lift. Remove the wheels.

Step 2
Remove the brake pads from one of the front calipers.

Step 3
Use the 10mm Hex bit and ratchet to remove the two bolts holding the brake caliper in place (circled in red in the pic below). Hold onto the caliper when the second bolt comes free. If you don't, the caliper will drop and can result in serious damage to the brake hose, brake caliper, and anything below them.

Caliper mounting bolts.jpg

Use a strap, rope, belt, or something else to hang the brake caliper from the upper control arm. The point is to keep the weight of the caliper off the brake hose. Letting the caliper hang freely from the hose can cause damage and result in brake failure. So make sure the weight of the caliper is supported by something other than the brake hose.

Step 4
Use the T40 Torx bit and ratchet to remove the two retention bolts from the brake rotor (circled in red in the pic below). Be extremely careful to apply smooth, even torque when removing these as they can strip very easily! If they strip, you'll need to drill them out so be very careful!

Rotor retention bolts.jpg

Step 5
Thread a pair of lug nuts back onto two of the lugs (as seen in the pic above). You only need to get them on a little bit, not all the way, as these will be used to prevent the rotor from flying loose when you knock the rotor off the hub.

Use the rubber mallet to knock the rotor loose from the hub. Be careful to avoid hitting anything other than the brake rotor while doing this.

Step 6
Clean the hub's mounting surfaces with sandpaper, a scratch pad, or similar item. You don't necessarily need to get it perfectly rust-free, but you'll want to get it smoothed down to a reasonable level. Use Brakleen and a shop towel to wipe away rust and debris, then apply anti-seize compound to the mounting surfaces.

Step 7
Put your new brake rotor in place and install new retention bolts. Torque the retention bolts to 8 lb/ft (10.5 Nm).

Step 8
Reinstall the brake caliper using new mounting bolts. Torque the mounting bolts to 15 lb/ft + 66-70° (20 Nm + 66-70°).

Step 9
Install the brake pads.

Step 10
Repeat Steps 2-9 for the other front brake rotor.

Step 11
Repeat Steps 2 and 3 to remove one of the rear brake calipers and its pads.

Step 12
Make sure the handbrake is fully released from inside the car.

Use the pair of 20mm box end wrenches to loosen the adjustment nuts on the handbrake cable (double-circled in blue in the pic below), then pop the cable end off the handbrake caliper (circled in red in the pic below). There's a special tool that makes this easy, but I don't have one. Instead, I pushed down on the lever and used a flat-head screwdriver to pop the cable end off the lever.

Handbrake cable.jpg

Step 13
Remove the handbrake pad retention pins and spring clip. Unlike the main brake calipers, these retention pins in the handbrake calipers are removed by pushing them outward, away from the body of the car. It can be incredibly difficult to get these out, so be careful. Once the retention pins and spring clip are out of the way, remove the handbrake pads.

Step 14
Loosen the two 13mm bolts that hold the handbrake caliper in place. These are located on the backside of the caliper. Due to limited space, I found it easiest to use a ratcheting wrench on one and a socket on the other.

NOTE: You do not need to pull the bolts free from the caliper. Once they are loosened enough for the caliper to come free, just move the caliper away and leave the bolts in the caliper.

Step 15
With the handbrake caliper free, you can now wind the handbrake caliper piston back into the caliper. Use a caliper piston winding tool to do that, then set the handbrake caliper aside.

Step 16
Repeat Steps 4-9 to install remove the brake rotor, install the new brake rotor, and reassemble the main brake caliper and pads.

Step 17
Reinstall the handbrake caliper and torque the two 13mm bolts to 11.5 lb/ft + 92° (15 Nm + 92°).

Step 18
Clean the handbrake pad retention pins and spring clip. Apply anti-squeal to the pins, clip, and the backing plates of the handbrake pads, and reinstall them all.

Step 19
Reconnect the handbrake cable end to the handbrake caliper lever, then tighten the handbrake cable adjusters.

Step 20
Repeat Steps 11-18 to replace the other rear brake rotor and reassemble everything.

Step 21
Put the wheels back on the car, lower it back to the ground. Make sure the lug nuts are all torqued to proper specs. DO NOT move the car until you've tested the brake system! Get into the car and push the brake pedal a few times until it becomes firm. Use the handbrake a few times to make sure it engages and releases properly.

Step 22
Bed in the brakes. Use the brake rotor and brake pad manufacturer's guidelines to do this.

All done!