Brake Rotor - won't come off


I’m a long time car talk listener.

This is the first time I’ve asked for advice.

I have a 2002 Ford Focus which has had a speed-related vibration when I put on the brakes.

I figured the front rotors are warped so I bought 2 new rotors and proceeded replace the old ones.

I removed the brake calipers and all went well - except I can’t get the old rotor off!!!

The last time I serviced the brakes, I put anti-sieze compound between the rotor & hub - just so they would come off easy. But, nooooo.

Since the rotor didn’t come off freely,

I tapped gently on the back of the rotor. Then I pounded with a sledge.

I rotated it and pounded some more.

I made a gear puller to span the rotor, and bent the gear puller bolts.

I heated the rotor & pounded on it some more. I sprayed liquid wrench on it…

This puppy is on there good.

Any Ideas???

Oh, and by the way, yes - I’m an engineer. And no, the check engine light is not on…



I don’t suppose these rotors are held in place with a couple of screws, like many Hondas that I’ve worked on? Those are a serious pain to remove…

If persistence and LOTS of PB Blaster don’t get them off, you might have to get a shop to do it. No sense risking damage to the area around the rotors.


Most rotors have a threaded hole that you can screw a bolt into to pull the rotor off. Usually 2 holes. Crank them equally a half turn at a time an after a every full turn tap the side of the hat with a hammer around the circumference to vibrate it a little then tighten the bolts again. That usually works for me


Nope, no screws. It is held on by the lug nuts.
(and rust). Anti-seize compound didn’t help. I’m going to use Marine wheel bearing grease next time.


Tapped holes are a great idea. These rotors don’t have them, though. Maybe I should drill & tap my new ones before I put them on.


I would try heat with a propane torch. Heat will tend to contract the steel/iron and that combined with a good whack from the sledge hammer should free them. I’ve found that the smaller vehicles have smaller rotors and they’re always difficult to get off.


You must be an electrical engineer or you would not hammer on your rotors which can Brinell your wheel bearings.

Rent a large three jaw puller.


Just went through the same not long ago. I had to cut the rotors off with a sawzall. The rust inside the “hat” portion of the rotor had expanded and wedged the rotor onto the hub. No amount of force on the puller would work. In fact, the holes for the puller broke out. It doesn’t take long to cut down the rotor and begin to cut through the shoulder area and Boing! it pops open and can be removed easily. You’ll be amazed at the force being exerted on the rotor and see why it wouldn’t come off. Mine spread open at least 3/8" at the edge of the cut once the stress was relieved.


The propane torch idea already mentioned works well. Heat the hub area of the rotor. The heat won’t have time to transfer to the bearings (which can take some heat anyway) before the rotor will come loose. You shouldn’t even need any hammer. It always works for me. Although you said you used heat already, you probably didn’t go quite far enough. Give it another try.


This is the best idea yet. I’ve tried heat and a large puller - to no avail.
Today will be Sawsall day…

Thanks everyone for all the great comments!



[b]Try setting the rotor on a jackstand so the weight of the vehicle is on the rotor. Place another jackstand somewhere under the vehicle to catch the vehicle when the rotor comes off.

With the weight of the vehicle on the rotor, smack the rotor with a dead blow hammer. This usually gets stubborn rotors to come off.



The Sawzall worked. I cut the rotor in half, and then the big gear puller broke one side loose. Had to drill a series of small holes to complete the cut next to the axle.

Still had to hammer the remaining half to get it off too.

A libral amount of wheel bearing grease was also applied to both mating surfaces.

Hopefully, they will come apart next rime…

Thanks to all.



Hooray! Glad to hear it worked for you too. Yours sounds just like mine were. You can see now that no amount of pounding or light duty heating would have broken them loose. With a good blade, you can cut through the rotor in no time and avoid any damage to the bearings.


Oops, forgot to mention a caution on the bearing grease- you mentioned “liberal” amount and my first thought was an issue I’ve run across before. It’s common for grease to act as a spacer when parts are assembled but it will slowly dissipate under the constant pressure, resulting in the parts being loose. It’s always a good idea to re-visit the lug nuts a week or two down the road and depending on your definition of “liberal” this might be another good reason to do so :slight_smile:


I had a similar dilemma trying to remove the disk brake rotors on a 2003 Toyota Sienna. The rotors were similarly rusted to the hub. I believe that the clearance between the hub and the inner cavity that it fits in is so close that rust essentially welds the rotor to the hub.

At first, I tried penetrating oil and a little rapping with a hammer around the hub area. No love. I got frustrated and, since I had replacement rotors, began whacking at the rotor from behind to get it to budge. After a couple of minutes of this, I gave up. I came back a couple of hours later, tried the sledge again, and this time it started coming off. I worked my way around the rotor, rapping it from behind to persuade it off. I credit the penetrating oil for helping to get this one off.

The other side was much worse, penetrating oil did not help a bit, even when letting it work overnight. I received some advice to heat up the rotor in the area that is frozen with a torch to temporarily make it bigger so it may be removed. I used MAPP gas to evenly heat around the shoulder area of the rotor that I was pretty certain was rusted on to the hub. Careful to avoid overheating, but still heating it up a good bit bit (the penetrating oil started smoking behind the rotor…) I gave the rotor a couple of gentle whacks from behind. It came right off.


I am glad you finally got it. These experiences are frustrating but can be the best learning tools ever.

I have a frind that swears by Kroil penetrating oil. It is made by Kano labs and they do have a web site if your curious. Their marketing material is kinda corny. They often advertize in those info pack postcards that are sent to engineering or maintenance departments. My friend says it has worked great on frozen bolts were WD-40 doesn’t. I have not used it yet, but I intend to try it, and I’ll report back at that time.


I’ve been using B’Laster PB for at least 8 years now. After the first time I used it, I threw my full cans of Kroil in the garbage along with the other assorted penetrating oils I had on hand. There is no comparison IMO.


I kind of agree with you, but I’ve found Deep Creep from Seafoam to work at least as well, maybe a tiny bit better.


I’m going to have to give that a try. I have several cans of deep creep but I have only used that stuff for de-carbing my outboards and other 2 cycle engines. Thanks for the tip!


I have a well worn 4 foot section of landscape timber which has never failed to loosen a stuck rotor. I install 1 lug nut loosely to prevent the rotor from getting airborne and swing progressively harder until it is free. Many, many years without fail.