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2012 Toyota Rav4 front rotors

I could use some help in figuring out how to get the front rotors off. My daughters car has 15,000 miles on it, she does not drive the car hard and does not ride the brakes, but the pads are worn and unfortunately gouged the rotors. I am surprised that they wore out at such low mileage. The rear rotors were easy enough to get off. There are 2 bolt holes that can be used to drive the rotor off. The front rotors bolt holes are rusted and the bolts did not grip well and stripped the threads, so no go with those. I beat on the rotor with a baby sledge and other than making a lot of noise and dust had nothing to show for it. I borrowed a gear pulled from Advance, and other than getting a bloody knuckle, nothing useful to report. The area where the rotor and hub come together looks like it is rust welded. The back ones broke away, but only with some effort and using both bolts to force them off. I am trying to save her some $ by doing the work my self. I have it back together with the old parts and can get it to my independent mechanic. He is a friend and will have great fun at my expense for not being able to do this myself. Please help me save my dignity and give me some ideas on how to get the front rotors off.

I had this exact problem on my old VW Rabbit. Front rotors wouldn’t budge. Very frustrating. Don’t yield to those stubborn rotors. Assuming you’ve got all the fasteners involved removed and they are just rusted on, a combo of penetrating fluid, time, and heat is what worked for my VW Rabbit. I’ve told this story here before, but it is sort of funny so I’ll tell it again. After applying heat with a propane torch to the rotor and it still wasn’t budging, I was laying under the Rabbit wondering what to do next, when all of a sudden the rotor just fell off completely on its own and landed on my leg … lol … ouch, very hot … lesson learned, wear long pants …

If a five pound maul doesn’t loosen the rotors, lower the vehicle and take a ten pound sledge and smack the rotor on the edge.

You’re going to be replacing the rotors anyways. So how you get them off doesn’t matter.

Although I’ve had to cut and split some rotors in order to get them off.

But never on a vehicle as new as yours.


I wonder if you could use the weight and forward motion of the car somehow to dislodge stubborn rotors?

Yes, now did things get into this state at 15k? lots of salt and 4 years?

Low usage can cause lots of rust to develop. I had rotors rust all the way through, they actually had holes in them. And that was with 10-12k per year.


I wonder if that same force is applied each time the vehicle is driven?


Depends – this is just a guess you understand — on how the wheel, rotor fasteners, and lug nuts are all configured.

You might possibly break the rotors loose by leaving the lug nuts slightly loose and driving the car maybe 10 mph or so and applying the brakes firmly.
I don’t understand how you can have this condition so soon though. I just did the brakes on my 99 RAV (yes for the first time) and the rotors actually fell off on their own.

This may sound stupid, but use the hammer to hit between the studs like you are trying to hammer the rotors back ON. Sometimes this breaks the rust bond so they come off easier.

The left rear caliper on my 2012 Camry froze from rust and wore out the outer pad in 15000 miles 2 1/2 years ago. Guess who lives in rust belt central.

Thanks for the ideas, I will try them Tues or Wed afternoon and let you know how it works out. @Oldtimer I live in Western PA, part of the great rust belt.

I’ve had to cut them off before. Assuming you have verified there is no hardware holding them on- use a sawzall with a good metal blade. It will slice through them like butter. Search this site for prior discussions…

Just wondering, regarding the brute force methods, would it be easier w/the sawzall method of cutting them off, or would it be easier drilling and tapping 3 or 4 holes so you could push them off with bolts against the hub? I’m guessing the sawzall method is probably easier and would only need equipment that a diy’er would probably already have. Drilling and tapping 1/2 inch bolt holes clean-through the rotors is probably not a simple job and I certainly don’t the equipment to do that in my home diy’er shop.

The rotors should already have two holes with 8x1.0 or 8x1.5 threads. You get two bolts with this thread that are grade 10.1 and screw them in, it pushes the rotors off the hub.

I think in a post above the OP said they tried that, but the threads were so rusted in the rotors the bolts weren’t holding fast in the threads, twisting but not doing any pushing on the rotor.

^^ @keith; Seems like the OP said that they were all rusted and not going any where.

Yeah you are right. They would have to tap new threads first, but then make sure the bolts are the equivalent of SAE grade 8 which I think is either a metric grade 10.1 or 12.1

The OP should soak the rotors in a penetrating oil overnight first and then wack the rotors between the studs like they are trying to drive them on. The use the bolts to push them off.

Western NY here.

Just wondering if the wrong bolts were used in the first place and stripped the threads. I’d be inclined to re-tap the threads in the existing holes.

The bolt holes are very shallow, about 5 mm in depth. I don’t think these bolt holes are any use in the rust belt, I have stripped them out here in the desert.

The first action would be to clean the hub center with emery cloth and a wire brush then apply a penetrating oil. Next strike the hub area of the rotor with a three pound hammer inward, the rotor will rebound off the hub.