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Ruined brake rotors by non-use

I live in the Adirondack mountains, pretty bad for winter road salt and rust. But I have left for a 2-3 months the last 2 winters and parked my 2008 Honda CR-V in the garage. Both years the brake rotors were so rusted that they had to be replaced (under warranty, thank you Honda) but I had to pay for pads this year. Can this be prevented any way besides regular driving of the car?

Unless you get a lot of fog that picks up salt from the roads, I don’t see why your rotors would rust that badly. There should be a film of surface rust on them, but that’ll get scrubbed off in a few minutes of normal driving. Are you not washing the car before you store it?

If the garage is well-sealed, you could try using a dehumidifier.

I am washing the car. I found a recommendation on the web suggesting spraying with WD-40. What do people think of this bright idea?

Unfortunately, not well sealed at all. It does keep the snow off!!

It would probably keep the rust off, but you’d also probably forget that you’d done it 3 months later, and then the first braking of the day would get awfully exciting.

I’d be interested in seeing the rotrs. I’ve seen rotors that badly rotted, but from sitting in wet-floored woodlands under pine trees for many months. Surface rust of the type that usually develops in the conditions you describe can generally be burnished off. Heck, cars sit on dealer lots longer than that.

There’s no way to prevent rotors from rusting.

This is called “Lot Rot”. It sometimes happens to cars that sit for long periods even on asphalt lots. The only cure is to drive the car on a regular basis.

I don’t think I’d use WD40 on the brake rotors, not sure what effect it might have on the pads. Before you park the car make sure the brakes are “dry” and perhaps you could spray a “brake cleaner” on the rotors. You might also try some of those RV wheel covers to keep some of the moisture away from the brakes.

All in all, there may not be much you can do.

Maybe park on a big piece of visqueen?

I had brake rotor rust on a GM car stored in a garage from approx April to November. The rotors rusted so badly that the pads would fuse to the rotors. It took a little effort to break it free. Every time this happened over the years, a few brake applications would clear off the rust and everything was fine after that. Brake life was normal; got 70k from the original pads/rotors.

A VW kept in the same garage had no rotor rust.

I later took steps to ventilate the garage with openings at both ends and the rotor rust problem on the GM car went away.

Does your “ventilated” garage permit some kind of flow-through ventilation that is effective? Does the garage have a dirt floor and if so, I suggest that you convert it to concrete.

The brake rotors are exposed raw steel. And if they’re not used they’re going to rust just from the moisture in the air.

The only way to prevent the rotors from rusting from nonuse is to coat them with a sealer to the air. A fogging oil works good. Then before the vehicle is put back into service, clean the rotors with a brake parts cleaner. Just like you do before installing new brake rotors to remove the rust protectant.


I store a Crown Vic outside on Cape Cod October through May. It still has the original rotors after 6 years of this…If it can rust, it WILL rust here…WD-40 doesn’t even CLAIM to prevent rust…

RV wheel covers won’t do anything. They’re just tire covers. Open in the back, so moisture can still get in. Their only function is to keep sunlight off the tires.

Well, if you have tools and know how to use them, I suppose that you could put the car on blocks, take the rotors off, and store them in the house. On many cars, that’s not as much work as it sounds like. Jack up the car. Remove the lug nuts. Take the wheel off. Remove two caliper bolts. Wire the caliper out of harms way. Lift the rotor off the car. It should come off easily being as it is new and won’t be rusted in place. Put a block in some reasonable place. Lower the jack. I’d put the caliper back where it belongs and turn the caliper bolts in a couple of turns. That’ll keep them from getting lost over the Winter and keep the caliper from dangling at the end of its brake hose if the wire doesn’t hold over the winter. I’d guess maybe 15-20 minutes a wheel. Are there two rotors or four? Many cars have drum brakes on the rear because it is much easier to design a reliable parking brake for drum brakes than disk brakes.