Rotor Turning FAQs

Turning the rotors, also known as resurfacing, uses a machine to return the rotor surface to a perfectly flat state. In this post we’ll share info and answer some common questions about turning brake rotors.

What Does “Turning A Rotor” Mean?

When a brake rotor is brand new, the friction surface of the rotor is perfectly flat. (The friction surface is the area where the brake pads make contact with the rotor.) As the brakes are used, the pads wear down, and the friction surface of the rotor also wears. Often it will develop small grooves, and it may develop a buildup of deposits left by the brake pad. Afterward, it is no longer perfectly flat. Turning the rotor, also known as resurfacing a rotor, uses a machine to return the friction surface to perfectly flat. The machine is a specialized type of lathe. The rotor is mounted in the machine, and the machine turns the rotor as it is resurfacing it.

Is Rotor Resurfacing A Common Practice?

Brake rotor resurfacing is not as common as it used to be. Many of today’s brake rotors are thinner than their predecessors to save weight. The rotor has a safe minimum thickness, and if it is worn too thin, it can’t be turned. It’s possible the manufacturer may not recommend turning the rotors at all. 

Can You Turn Or Resurface Your Rotors Yourself?

Resurfacing rotors is not a “do-it-yourself” job. This procedure requires an expensive piece of machining equipment called a brake lathe. Operating the equipment also requires a qualified mechanic with training. The mechanic must also know the rotor tolerances. This will determine if the rotor is warped and how much material can be removed without compromising safety. 

How Much Does It Cost To Turn/Resurface Rotors?

Labor rates can vary, but expect to pay around $200 per axle for resurfacing brake rotors. You can save on labor by removing the rotors yourself and taking them to a shop. Depending on your vehicle, replacing the brake rotors may not be much more expensive than turning them. 

How Long Does It Take To Turn Rotors?

Shops usually quote about 2 hours of labor for turning brake rotors. This includes placing the vehicle on a lift, removing the wheels, and unbolting the brake calipers to free the rotors. Depending on the shop, rotors might be turned on a bench or by using an on-car brake lathe. 

How Many Times Can You Turn/Resurface Rotors?

Brake rotors should never be turned more than once. There are many variables that determine if you can turn brake rotors. The design and thickness of the rotor material will affect the tolerances. These specifications will indicate how much material can be safely removed without compromising the rotor integrity. It’s possible the manufacturer may not recommend turning the rotors. Otherwise, conditions that can prevent rotors from being turned at all are:

  • Scoring
  • Cracking
  • Corrosion
  • Warping 

Do Auto Parts Stores Like O’Reilly Or Autozone Or Advance Auto Parts Turn Rotors?

O’Reilly and Pep Boys are the only major auto parts chains that offer brake rotor resurfacing. AutoZone and Advance Auto Parts do not offer this service.

Learn More About Brake Rotors

Buying The Right Brake Rotors For Your Vehicle

Have you determined that new brake rotors are the best repair for your vehicle? BuyBrakes is here to help you find the right parts and help you get the job done yourself. Take a look at our guide on all the tools you’ll need to replace brake pads and/or rotors. Next, refer to our post on how to remove and replace your brake rotors. BuyBrakes is your one-stop shop for brake parts and do-it-yourself repair information.  

  • BuyBrakes has the best selection of brake rotors at the best price. 
  • We have (8) warehouse locations across the US for the best availability of parts and the fastest shipping times!
  • We offer free shipping on all orders over $99.

Do you have more questions? We’re here to help. Feel free to contact us.