Rust on Rotors: Repair or Replace?

Makes a grinding noise when initially braking, but seems to quiet as day goes on.

Any advice would be appreciated, thank you!

It seems you live in a place with high humidity and/or lots of rain and snow. It’s very common that rotors rust, even overnight, in those conditions. On the other hand the rust around the edges is pretty thick so the most cautious course would be to measure the thickness of the rotor where it’s shiny and compare that with the allowed minimum for your car.

Personally, I’d do nothing, but that’s me. With that level of rusting I’d get the car up in the air somewhere and inspect for rust all over.


every rotor will get rust on it after it rains. but the rust will be cleared away the first time or two you step on the brakes and the noise will go away.
with that said if it were my vehicle, I would put new rotors and brake pads.

I wouldn’t replace the rotors or pads.

Because the new rotors are going to get rusty too.


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I said replace them because it should not take that long for the rust to clear and still be a noise.

It’s not likely the rotors, it may be the pads. When pads wear out a metal attachment on the pad scrapes the rotor. That may be what you hear. How many miles on the car since the pads were last changed?

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Here in Western NY that much rust is normal. Ifr the back of the rotor looks as good as the front and the pads were decent thickness. I would remove the wheel and put a couple of lug nuts back on and chuck a wire brush in my drill to clean the crud from the edge. It would be safer to do it with th heen stationary but I would do it with th other wheel on the ground and the wheel tuning in gear on a jack stand and the emergency brake firmly set. I would then hold a file against the outer ridhe to reduce it back to the level of the swept area.

It sounds tedious but doesn’t take very long.

In fairness, “as the day goes on” could be anywhere from 10 minutes to 10 hours, so it’s hard to say whether or not something is wrong from that.

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Here in WNY the back of the rotor NEVER looks as good as the front. I replace more rotors that look great in the front and are completely rust jacked on the back causing noise and vibration during braking that is horrendous.

My rotors look like that. At a recent service appointment at a local dealership, they recommended replacing all four rotors because they were “delaminating”. I declined.

If the pads are good I would not replace them. When the pads need to be replaced, replace the rotors too


Find a good independent mechanic, have them inspect the brakes and body for rust.

Salt air where I live, surface rust overnight, brakes squeal like a pig when I back out of my driveway.

The noise might also be something stuck in the brakes. When a mechanic gets your car in a lift that becomes obvious if present.