CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

What next? Rotors

Hi
I am hoping someone here will know what to do with this.
I went to get my brakes and rotors replaced yesterday, no big deal right?
The mechanic (25yrs experience) spent over 3 hours on one Rotor and was unable to get it to come off. He used grease, then some kind of heating lubricant then went to town on it with massive hammers. Never moved…
After 3 hours he gave up and I had to leave. Is it possible to saw them off? Has anyone ever heard of this before?
Where can I go to get the job done right? I have a big road trip I need to take next week, yikes!

Thank you for your reply!

25 years and he does not have a torch? I never seen one that I could not get off with heat from a torch. You will need to find a shop that will use a torch on them. You could cut them off but it will take some time and blades.

Will a place like STS have a torch and know how to do that?

Call and ask. Any good brake shop should be able to do it.

I ran into a similar problem a couple years ago on my Camry. Posted about it back then. I cut them off with a sawzall. It took all of 5 minutes and it cut through them like butter. Fortunately, there was a relief in the knuckle that allowed a cut through the entire rotor. Once I got close to the end, it popped open like a hot kernel of popcorn. The rust was so bad on the inside of the “hat” portion, it was wedged on and no amount of pounding would have gotten it off. No way I’m using heat near the bearings so torching them off was out of the question. Amazed at how easily they cut with the sawzall…

What kind of car?
On some imports, two tapped holes exist in the rotor that you can thread bolts into that subsequently push against the hub so it eventually cracks loose.
It always works for me.

It’s a 2004 Hyundai Elantra

Anyone available in Somerset NJ to tackle this job? I need it done over the weekend…

If you don’t have those threaded holes in the rotor, how about you take the brake caliper bracket off and use those mounting holes:
put a larger bolt into that hole, through the mounting hole, and put a washer and nut behind it. Use both mounting holes.
Then start threading the bolt while holding the nut. It will push the rotor away from the hub. Bang the rotor with a dead blow rubber mallet once in a while to help loosen the crud. Loosen and turn the rotor a couple of times and use the bolt/washer/nut method to help loosen the other side.
Eventually you will win and it will break loose.

Note it will damage the rotor but you want to replace it anyway.

Edit: HA! I found a video of the procedure. It is an old trick but this one was even done on a Hyunday so that’s got to be a common problem on that car;

First, make sure he’s removed any retaining screws. Sometimes people forget to do this. . .

HAHA - yea good point. One would hope his mechanic found those, huh…

Agree with @shadowfox The first time I saw retaining screws were on a Kia, and Hyundai uses the same system. Mine stripped out right away, and made a 10 min a job a hour plus job… I was not happy

This is what I was talking about:

Although I did think it was a Phillips head screw…

If the retaining screws strip or round off, a skilled hand with a cutting torch can remove the head, then the rest of the screw can be threaded out with Vise Grips. If it gets trashed, the car can live without it. If the rotors still will not come off, a bigger hammer may be needed. Many times on 4WD Expeditions and F150s, the rotors were so badly rusted on that they had to be beaten to pieces with a four pound sledge hammer. This can happen on other cars, too, but it seems very common on those trucks, which is why I mention it. I do like the Sawzall idea, though. Let us know the outcome.

Yikes… The screws you are talking about actually broke the guys impact screwdriver, then he ended up drilling through them to get them out. After about two hours of hammering them, the rotor still didn’t budge.
Anyone know a trustworthy place that would be willing to do the labor near 08873. I have the new rotors and pads already (which is why I can’t take it to a STS or other chain)
I’ll keep you posted for sure. Thanks to all for your excellent advice, I have learned a lot!

Might be time for a Sawzall. Cutting through them will make them break apart much easier so you can replace them. If for some reason your mechanic does not have a Sawzall, I recommend against the one from Harbor Freight. The plastic gears inside do not like to be worked hard.

I had this problem w/a VW Rabbit once. I battled with the retaining screw using a screwdriver but couldn’t get it to budge. I figured out eventually that to remove the retaining screw I had to use a manual impact driver gadget. I don’t know what this tool is called, but it’s a miracle when you need it and it’s inexpensive (<$20), I got mine at Sears I think. You simply configure it w/ a Phillips drive head, match it up with the screw head, and whap it a good one w/a hammer, which causes it to twist 1/4 turn. That worked like a champ. One or two whacks and the screw was loose as a goose.

I can’t imagine someone w/25 years experience would forget to remove the retaining screw, but I suppose it’s possible. It’s good that the parts folks are putting some threaded removing holes in their rotors, but I suppose this car belonging to the OP’er doens’t have that feature.

Back to the Rabbit. The retaining screw was out but the rotor on the Rabbit was still stuck. Rusted on steady and not moving a twiddle. I pulled and I pried and I whacked it with a hammer from behind. No go. So I put some Liquid Wrench on the places it looked like it was stuck, let it soak a couple hours, and brought out the propane torch. I think I told this story here before, but what happened next was rather humorous – if you happened to be a third party watching me do it that is. After alternately heating the rotor with the torch and whacking w/a hammer for 15 minutes or so, I was taking a little break laying under the car wondering what to do next. All of a sudden the rotor simply fell off! Not only wasn’t I whacking it, I wasn’t even touching it! It just up and fell off! The downside issince I was laying under the rotor, it fell right onto my leg. It was particularly unfortunate that I was wearing short pants! Whap! My bare leg! Hot! Ouch! lol

Anyway, that’s how I got the stuck rotor off the Rabbit. And to remind me of this event, I had the outlines of it sort of tatoo’d on my leg for several weeks!

Beat me to it, @RemcoW - I had a rotor seize on my 97 Taurus once. I used bolts just like this, and they worked like a charm. Never read about other people doing it, but it only made sense to me. At least in my case, it was incredibly easy…

At this point you might have to go to a Hyundai dealer. Since the job was botched to this point.

I just had a tough time pulling a prop on my inboard ski boat. The issue was I couldn’t get enough clearance to use the “prop puller” and banging on the sucker wouldn’t break it loose. I had to disconnect the drive shaft from the transmission (not really bad, just 4 bolts). Then I was able to get the shaft to move enough to get the prop puller in place. Some pressure from the puller and a few more good whacks and it popped off.

You are dealing with rust which can be like “glue” and internal pressures from torque and heat/cooling cycles that make a rotor stick. Heat from a torch should be a great help in freeing it up. The screws other posters mentioned are like my prop puller and put pressure on the rotor to break it free, and a few good whacks can break the rust bond. A dealer has dealt with this before on this specific car and now is the best bet to get the rotors off without further damage to the hub, brake, and suspension assemblies.

You are at the point where your “cheap” job has failed and it might possibly turn into a disaster causing more expenses you didn’t plan on at the outset.

@eraser1998: No doubt it is old Yankee ingenuity because I learned it from someone that always made his own tools. Plain old bolts and nuts make for excellent presses in a pinch.

Doesn’t your mechanic have a large three jaw puller? The problem with beating on it is all the rubber compliance bushings in the suspension take out a lot of the impact, that’s why it doesn’t work. I have found that with slightly stuck rotors, if you pull on the rotors by hand and tap the center hub with a hammer, they are much more likely to pop off.