How to Change the Rotors on Chevrolet Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

When you inspect the brake rotors on your Chevrolet car you need to check them thoroughly. Some light grooves on the surface of the rotor may seem insignificant. The fact is, if the brake pads cannot grip the surface solidly, they will not work properly. Check to be sure there is no cracking visible in the rotor. You also want to look for warping. Check both sides of the rotor and not just the front as damage can occur on both sides. If you have any doubt about the rotor at all, replace it.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change the Rotors on a 2500 Chevy

Removing the Rotor

Park your Chevy pickup in a safe and level place. Shift the transmission to neutral (N).

Using a clean rag, clean the cap and body of the brake master cylinder reservoir.

Draw at least two-thirds of the brake fluid from the master cylinder using a clean turkey baster and an appropriate container. Set the cap back in place but loose.

With a lug wrench, loosen the wheel lug nuts on the wheel/tire assembly with the rotor you are changing.

Raise the wheel/tire assembly using a floor jack and support it on a jack stand. Finish removing the wheel/tire.

Retract the brake caliper pistons into their bore using a large C-clamp. Position the clamp over the caliper and use the clamp screw to push against the brake pad to force the pistons back.

Remove the two brake caliper bracket mounting bolts using a ratchet, ratchet extension and socket.

Lift the caliper and mounting bracket as an assembly off the rotor and secure it to the coil spring using a piece of heavy wire. Leaving the caliper and bracket hanging loose will damage the brake hose connected to the caliper.

Remove the rotor from the hub. If the rotor seems stuck, clean the hub and rotor assembly, including the threaded holes in the rotor, with brake parts cleaner and a clean, lint-free rag. Then, if you are changing a front rotor, install two M10-by-1.5 bolts into the threaded holes of the rotor. Tighten the bolts evenly and gradually with a ratchet and socket to pull the rotor free. On rear wheels, rotate as you pull the rotor off the hub. Alternatively, use a slide hammer with a hooked end and pull the rotor from the vents on the edge.

Installing the New Rotor

Clean the hub flange-mating surface with brake parts cleaner, a soft brush and a clean, lint-free rag.

Wipe the friction surfaces of the new rotor with brake parts cleaner and a clean, lint-free rag to remove the protective film.

Position the new rotor in place.

Remove the caliper and bracket assembly from the coil spring and set it in place over the rotor.

Clean the caliper bracket mounting bolts with a wire brush, brake parts cleaner and a clean, lint-free rag.

Coat the threads of the caliper bracket mounting bolts with a threadlocker.

Install and start the caliper bracket bolts by hand. Then, tighten the bolts using the ratchet, ratchet extension and socket.

Install the tire and, with the lug wrench, tighten the wheel lug nuts.

Lower the vehicle and finish tightening the wheel lug nuts.

Slowly pump the brake pedal several times to help the caliper pistons and brake pads properly seat over the new rotor.

Fill the brake master cylinder with new brake fluid to bring the level up to the "Full" mark.

Items you will need

  • Clean rag

  • Clean turkey baster

  • Container

  • Lug wrench

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stand

  • Large C-clamp

  • Ratchet

  • Ratchet extension

  • Socket

  • Heavy wire

  • Brake parts cleaner

  • Clean, lint-free rag

  • 2 M10-by-1.5 bolts, if necessary

  • Slide hammer, if necessary

  • Soft brush

  • Wire brush

  • Threadlocker

  • New brake fluid

 How to Change Rotors on a Chevy Uplander Van

Park the Uplander on a level, firm surface. Place wheel chocks behind the rear wheels.

Raise the Chevy with an automobile jack. Place a jack stand under the vehicle near its jacking point and raise it up to the frame.

Remove the lug nuts on the wheel with the lug wrench then pull the wheel from the wheel assembly. Remove the caliper retaining bolts with a socket and ratchet. Secure the caliper to the strut with a wire tie. Never let the brake caliper hang loose or you will damage the brake lines.

Pull off the brake rotor from the wheel assembly. Install the new brake rotor onto the wheel assembly.

Cut the wire tie holding the caliper to the strut with a pair of pliers. Put the caliper in place on the wheel assembly and tighten the bolts with the socket and ratchet. Remount the wheel on the Uplander and tighten the lug nuts with the lug wrench.

Remove the jack stand from under the Uplander and lower the vehicle to the ground with the jack. Repeat the process on the other wheel.

Items you will need

  • Automobile jack

  • Jack stand

  • Wheel chocks

  • Lug wrench

  • Socket set

  • Wire ties

  • Pliers

 How to Change the Rotors on a Colorado

Park the Colorado on a level surface and turn the key off. Place the wheel chocks behind the rear wheels. Jack the truck up with the floor jack. Place a jack stand under each side of the truck near the jacking point and raise it to the frame. Remove the lug nuts using the lug wrench and pull the wheels off the truck. Work on one side at a time, so you will always have a completed assembly as a visual reference.

Unplug the speed sensor from the wheel hub. Remove the caliper pins with a socket and ratchet. Pull the caliper from the wheel assembly. Secure it to the strut or frame with a wire tie or stiff wire, such as a coat hanger. Do not allow the caliper to hang from the brake line.

Pull the rotor from the wheel assembly. Clean the wheel assembly thoroughly with the wire brush. Put the new rotor on the wheel assembly. Note that you must clean the new brake rotors with brake cleaner or denatured alcohol before you put them on the truck. Remove and replace the pads in the caliper. Place the brake caliper on the mounting bracket. Tighten the locking pins with the socket and ratchet.

Place the wheel on the Colorado and tighten the lug nuts with the lug wrench. Remove the jack stand from under the truck. Lower the vehicle to the ground. Repeat the process on the other wheel.

Pump the brake pedal several times to seat the pads against the rotors before driving the truck.

Items you will need

  • Automobile jack

  • Wheel chocks

  • Lug wrench

  • Jack stand

  • Socket set

  • Pliers

  • Wire ties

  • Wire brush

  • Brake cleaner

  • New brake pads

 How to Change the Rotors on a Chevy Tahoe

Loosen the lug nuts on the wheels with a tire iron. Lift the Tahoe with a heavy-duty jack and place the vehicle securely on jack stands. If your model has only front discs, then support just the front. If it has discs at all four corners, support it at all four corners and remove the wheels.

Spray brake cleaner on all of the brake components and wipe them off with a clean rag. Remove the caliper bolts with a socket or a wrench. The bolts are located behind the rotor at the top and the bottom of the caliper. You may need a breaker bar to loosen the bolts.

Slide the caliper off of the rotor. It will still be attached to the soft brake line, so support the caliper on something or tie it to a nearby suspension piece so there is no weight on the brake line, which could potentially damage the line.

Remove the two bolts for the caliper bracket. Set the bracket aside.

Pull the rotor straight off the hub. It may be frozen on from rust and dirt. If this is the case, then spray some type of penetrating oil where the rotor meets the hub. Let the fluid soak in and then tap the rotor off with a mallet.

Spray brake fluid on the rotor mounting surface and with a clean, dry rag, clean off any rust, dirt and oil.

Spray brake fluid on the front and back of the new rotor and wipe it down with a clean rag. Slide the new rotor into place.

Reattach the caliper mounting bracket with the two bolts. Slide the caliper over the rotor and insert the caliper bolts. Tighten the caliper bolts to 110 ft-lb with a torque wrench.

Replace the wheels and lower the Tahoe back to the ground.

Items you will need

  • Jack and jack stands

  • Brake cleaner

  • Rags

  • Penetrating lubricant

  • Socket set and ratchet

  • Open-ended wrenches

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace the Rotor in a Chevy Silverado

Get a new set of rotors for your Silverado. Order online or visit your local auto parts store to get a set for the front and rear rotor pairs.

Bleed about two thirds of the brake fluid from the master cylinder before you begin. This prevents too much pressure from building up in the brake line.

Raise your truck. Using the factory advised contact points for your Silverado, jack up the vehicle and use jack stands that have the weight capacity to hold your truck. Remove the tire and wheel assembly.

Undo the caliper mounting bolts on the back of the spindle. Suspend it using heavy mechanic's wire attached to the upper control arm (or frame), being careful not to disconnect the brake line.

Take off the old rotor and replace it with the new one after cleaning the area around the hub with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or corrosion on the contact points.

Replace the caliper and brake hose and then tighten and torque the two caliper mounting bolts. Put the wheel assembly and tire back on and then repeat this process for each additional rotor.

Refill the master cylinder with new brake fluid. Once finished, lower the truck and pump the brakes to reset the new rotors and to get any air bubbles out of the brake line. Road test your Chevy Silverado to make sure that the installation was successful.

 How to Replace the Rotors on a 1996 Chevrolet 1500 Two-Wheel Drive

Lift up the front of the Chevrolet truck using the jack and set it onto jack stands to support its weight. Remove the wheels with the tire iron and move them out of the way. Use the hammer to tap off the center dust cap on the rotor. Unbolt the brake caliper from the spindle with the 3/8-inch ratchet and socket, then suspend it by a bungee cord on the frame or front suspension.

Remove the cotter pin in the center of the rotor using the needle-nose pliers. Unbolt the center nut on the rotor with the 1/2-inch ratchet and socket, then pull off the washer and slide the rotor off the spindle. Discard or recycle the rotor and bearings.

Pack the replacement bearings with the bearing grease, then install the rear bearing into the rear of the rotor by hand and tap the seal onto the rotor with the hammer. Slide the rotor onto the spindle.

Slide the replacement front bearing over the spindle and into the rotor. Reinstall the washer, then reinstall the center nut. Tighten it down using the 1/2-inch ratchet and socket until it is tight, then back it off one-quarter rotation. Install the replacement cotter pin with the needle-nose pliers and reinstall the dust cap.

Reinstall the rotor using the 3/8-inch ratchet and socket, then reinstall the wheels using the tire iron. Lower the truck off the stands with the jack.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Tire iron

  • Hammer

  • 3/8-inch ratchet and socket set

  • Bungee cord

  • 1/2-inch ratchet and socket set

  • Needle-nose pliers

  • Replacement bearings

  • Replacement wheel seal

  • Bearing grease

  • Replacement rotors

  • Replacement cotter pin

 How to Change Rotors on a 2005 GMC Canyon

Park the Canyon on a flat stretch of road or driveway and open the hood.

Remove the master cylinder cap located near the firewall on the right side of the GMC's engine. Remove half of the brake fluid in the reservoir with a turkey baster. Lay the cap over the container.

Loosen all of the lug nuts on the wheels relating to the rotors you seek to replace. Turn the lug nuts one-quarter turn with a lug wrench or 21-mm socket and breaker bar.

Place the jack beneath the truck's frame and lift the vehicle. Place jack stands beneath the axle.

Remove the two caliper pins on the back side of the caliper with a 13-mm wrench.

Lift the caliper from the caliper bridge and suspend it above the brake assembly with a bungee cord or wire coat hanger.

Remove the brake pads from the caliper bridge. Use a flat screwdriver to pry the pads from the bridge.

Remove the two bolts on the back side of the caliper bridge with a 15-mm socket and ratchet.

Lift the bridge from the rotor and set it aside.

Remove the rotor from the wheel bolts by pulling it straight from the wheel hub. Use a hammer to strike the center section of the rotor if it is stuck to the hub by rust.

Clean the area behind the rotor with brake parts cleaner and a wire brush.

Clean the new rotor with brake parts cleaner and a clean cloth towel. Remove all of the packing oil and excess brake cleaner before installing the new rotor.

Place the new rotor onto the wheel bolts.

Return the caliper bridge over the rotor and screw in the bridge bolts with the 15-mm socket and ratchet.

Apply anti-squeal brake grease to the back panels of the new brake pads. Place the new pads into the slots of the caliper bridge on either side of the new brake rotor.

Place the channel lock pliers over the caliper piston and the back of the caliper. Squeeze the piston into the caliper to allow room for the thicker brake pads and rotor.

Place the caliper back around the new brake pads. Screw in the caliper pins and tighten them with the 13-mm wrench.

Return the wheel to the wheel bolts and screw on the Canyon's lug nuts by hand.

Lift the truck and remove the jack stands. Lower the vehicle to the ground and tighten the lugs with the lug wrench or 21-mm socket and breaker bar.

Repeat steps 4 through 18 for each of the remaining rotors that you need to replace. Return to the Canyon's engine compartment.

Lift the master cylinder cap and place a funnel into the reservoir. Pour DOT-3 brake fluid into the reservoir until the container is full. Remove the funnel and replace the master cylinder cap.

Start the Canyon's engine.

Press the brake pedal three times, holding the pedal down for five seconds after the third depression. This returns the pistons to their proper position against the brake pads.

Items you will need

  • Turkey baster

  • Lug wrench or 21 mm socket and breaker bar

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • 13 mm wrench

  • Bungee cord (or wire hanger)

  • 15 mm socket

  • Ratchet

  • Flat screwdriver

  • Hammer (if necessary)

  • Brake parts cleaner

  • Wire brush

  • Cloth towel

  • Rotors

  • Channel lock pliers

  • Brake pads

  • Funnel

  • Brake fluid

 How to Replace the Rotor on a Chevrolet Malibu

Park the Chevy Malibu on a level and paved surface. Apply the parking brake and release the hood latch. Place a wheel chock behind on of the rear tires.

Open the hood, remove the master cylinder cap, and suck out half of the brake fluid in the reservoir using the turkey baster. Discard the fluid appropriately and replace the master cylinder cap securely.

Put on the safety glasses and break the lug nuts loose on the front tires using the breaker bar and a socket (unless the air compressor you have supplies enough power to the 1/2-inch gun, in which case skip this step and proceed to Step 4).

Lift the left front quarter of the Malibu with the floor jack and place the jack stand under the front left frame rail. You can lift the right side as well or choose to complete one side at a time.

Remove the lug nuts and the left front wheel. (Use the pneumatic gun if it is powerful enough combined with the air compressor.)

Place the large C-clamp over the entire caliper housing to compress the caliper piston inward. If you're replacing the pads as well, you're better off removing the top of the caliper first to extract the pads, but if you're replacing just the rotor, remove the caliper and anchor with the pads as an assembly to save time. Once the caliper piston is bottomed out, remove the C-clamp, locate the two caliper anchor bolts and remove them with the ratchet and a socket. (Again, you could use the pneumatic gun if it has enough power, but it might be hard to get the socket on the anchor bolt head.)

Remove the caliper assembly and support it to the coil spring with a bungee cord. Remove the rotor. If the rotor is stuck to the hub by rust or corrosion, strike the flat plated fin if the rotor from behind with the hammer with blunt force.

Clean the surface of the hub flange thoroughly with the die grinder and reconditioning discs. If you did not do this, excessive lateral run out could occur and warp the new front rotors. Clean the face of the hub flange and the ends where the rotor hub sits against.

Wash new rotor with canned brake clean spray. Clean both sides thoroughly to remove the rust preventative coating. Wipe the rotor dry with a shop rag. Place the new rotor on the hub and replace the caliper assembly over it while holding the rotor in place. Replace and tighten the caliper anchor bolts. Replace the wheel and tighten the lug nuts flush to the hub to hold the tire secure. Lower the Malibu and re-tighten the lug nuts using the adjustable torque wrench (set at 100 foot pounds) and a socket.

Repeat Steps 4 through 9 for the right side (or 5 through 9 if you lifted the right side already). Once the Malibu is complete and back on level ground it is extremely important to restore hydraulic pressure back to the compressed caliper pistons. To do so, pump the foot brake pedal several times until it feels normal and no longer drops to the floor. Check the level of the brake fluid in the master cylinder only after you've restored the hydraulic pressure back to the pistons and only add new DOT 3 brake fluid. Release the parking brake and remove the wheel chock. Test drive the Malibu.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stand(s)

  • Wheel chock

  • Turkey baster

  • DOT 3 brake fluid

  • Air compressor with air hose

  • 1/2-inch drive pneumatic air gun

  • 1/2-inch drive breaker bar

  • 1/2-inch drive ratchet

  • 1/2-inch drive pneumatic socket set

  • 1/2-inch drive adjustable torque wrench

  • Large C-clamp

  • Bungee cord

  • Ball peen hammer

  • Safety glasses

  • Brake clean spray

  • Shop rag(s)

  • Angled die grinder

  • 2-inch reconditioning discs (course)

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.