How to Replace a Front Rotor on Vehicles

by Contributing Writer

The brake rotors on the Vehicles are key components to the anti-lock braking system. During braking, the brake pedal is depressed, which forces brake fluid through the brake lines. The fluid pushes the caliper pistons, which press the brake pads against the rotors, causing the Vehicles to slow to a stop. If the surface of the rotors is damaged by excessive or prolonged scoring by the brake pads' wear indicators, or if the rotors are damaged in any other way; the rotors need to be replaced to ensure proper function of the braking system.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace a Front Rotor on a Lincoln LS

Park the Lincoln LS on a flat paved surface. Apply the parking brake and release the hood latch. Place the wheel chock behind one of the rear tires. Open the hood and remove the master cylinder cap. Suck out half of the brake fluid from the reservoir with a turkey baster and discard. Replace the cap securely. Drop the hood down (without closing it) so the underhood light bulb on the Lincoln LS doesn't kill the battery while you perform the rotor replacement.

Break the lug nuts loose on the front tire(s) using the breaker bar and a socket. Lift the front quarter of the LS with the floor jack and place the jack stand under the front frame rail. If desired, lift the other side to elevate the front axle. It is recommended to replace both rotors on an LS as opposed to just one side. This way you won't have a thick new rotor on one caliper catching first while the other has to compress against an older, thinner rotor.

Remove the lug nuts and wheel. Position the large flathead screwdriver into the front of the caliper. In a prying motion, compress the caliper pistons (there's two on the LS calipers) by prying the outboard pad evenly against the surface of the rotor. Because it's dual piston, you'll have to apply enough force to compress them in. Go as far as the caliper pistons will allow. This will make sure there's plenty of room for the new thicker rotor.

Locate and remove the two caliper anchor bolts on the inside knuckle using the ratchet and a socket. This will remove the caliper with the pads and anchor as an entire assembly and save time. If you were replacing the pads on the LS, you would have to separate the caliper, extract the pads, then remove the anchor to remove and replace the rotor. Hang the caliper assembly to the front suspension out of the way using a bungee cord so it does not hang by the brake hose.

Remove the rotor. If the rotor is stuck to the hub, spray the center of the rotor and hub connection with lubricant, put on the safety glasses and strike the flat plate of the inside edge of the rotor with a hammer outward. Try to use force to shock the rotor from the hub, but excessive force and repeated blows with the hammer can create excessive run out. Try to avoid hitting the rotor on the front or face of the hub.

Clean the flange face of the hub with sand paper or emery cloth to remove and excess rust or buildup that caused the rotor to come off stubbornly. Apply a light coat of anti-seize lubricant around the circumference of the hub that the rotor sits around and also along the edge of the hub flange that sits inside the hub of the rotor. This will help future replacement or removal of the rotor.

Clean off the rust preventative coating on the new rotor with brake clean spray. Spray both sides liberally and wipe dry with a shop rag. Install the new rotor onto the hub of the flange and screw on one lug nut on a lug stud to hold the rotor in place flush to the flange, but out of the way of the caliper assembly.

Replace the caliper assembly and anchor bolts and tighten with the ratchet and a socket. Remove the lug nut from the lug stud and replace the wheel and lug nuts. Tighten the lug nuts flush to the hub. Repeat the steps for the other side to replace that rotor. If excessive force was used to remove the rotors and you want to check rotor run out, you'll have to keep the tires off and restore hydraulic pressure back to the caliper pistons first, by pumping the foot brake pedal until it feels normal. Then, use the rotor run out gauge to check lateral run out.

Lower the LS and tighten the lug nuts alternately with the torque wrench set at 100 foot pounds and a socket. If you didn't check rotor run out, pump the foot brake pedal now to restore pressure to the caliper pistons. Check and adjust the level of brake fluid in the master cylinder reservoir and only add new DOT 3 or 4 brake fluid. Fill and replace the cap securely. Close the hood and remove the wheel chock.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stand(s)

  • Wheel chock

  • Turkey baster

  • DOT 3 or 4 brake clean

  • 1/2 inch drive breaker bar

  • 1/2 inch drive ratchet

  • 1/2 inch drive socket set

  • 1/2 inch drive adjustable torque wrench

  • Large flathead screwdriver

  • Bungee cord

  • Safety glasses

  • Hammer

  • Anti-seize lubricant

  • Spray lubricant

  • Emery cloth or light grade sand paper

  • Brake clean spray

  • Shop rags

  • Rotor run out gauge (optional)

 How to Replace the Front Rotor on an RX330

Park the Lexus RX330 in the area that you are going to be working in and set the emergency brake.

Open the hood and remove the cap from the brake fluid reservoir.

Loosen all of the lug nuts on the front driver side of the Lexus RX330 with the lug wrench.

Jack the front of the Lexus RX330 up and put a jack stand under each frame rail behind each front tire. Lower the jack so that the Lexus RX330 is resting evenly on the jack stands.

Finish unscrewing the lug nuts from the lugs and pull the wheel off the hub. Set the wheel to the side.

Locate the brake caliper that is sitting on top of the brake rotor. Take the pry bar and stick it between the rear brake pad and the brake rotor. Pry the rear brake pad toward the back side of the brake caliper. This will compress the cylinder inside of the brake caliper enough for you to be able to swivel the brake caliper.

Remove the lower, caliper-mounting bolt on the rear of the caliper with the 1/2-inch breaker bar and a socket. The brake caliper on the Lexus RX330 has a bolt on the rear bottom of the caliper and a swivel pin on the top of the caliper. Once you remove the bottom bolt from the rear of the caliper, swivel the caliper upward. Put the bungee cord on one end of the caliper and hang the other end of the bungee cord on the frame rail. This will give you the room needed to remove the brake rotor from the hub.

Remove the Allen-head bolt that is holding the brake rotor in place. The Allen-head bolt is on the facing of the brake rotor. Insert the Allen wrench inside of the Allen head bolt and turn the Allen wrench counterclockwise to loosen and remove the bolt.

Slide the old brake rotor straight off of the hub. Set the rotor to the side and slide the new brake rotor onto the hub. Screw the Allen-head bolt back into the facing of the rotor and tighten the Allen-head bolt down tight with the Allen-head wrench.

Unhook the bungee cord and slide the brake caliper back over the new brake rotor. Screw the rear bottom-mounting bolt back into the caliper. Tighten the rear-caliper bolt down tight with the 1/2-inch drive breaker bar and a socket.

Slide the wheel back onto the hub. Screw the lug nuts on and tighten them down with the lug wrench. Then, jack the Lexus RX330 up and remove the jack stands. Lower the Lexus to the floor.

Finish tightening the lug nuts down tight with the lug wrench. Screw the cap back onto the brake fluid reservoir. Follow these same steps for replacing the brake rotor on the front passenger side also.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Lug wrench

  • 1/2-inch drive breaker bar

  • Socket set

  • Pry bar

  • Bungee cord

  • Allen wrenches

 How to Replace the Front Rotor on a Ford Ranger

Open the hood, and disconnect the negative terminal cable from the battery. Loosen the wheel's lug nuts with a lug wrench, and raise the front of the Ranger until the front wheels clear the ground. Support the vehicle with jack stands.

Remove the lug nuts from the wheel, and slide the wheel off the axle. Use a ratchet and socket to remove the two mounting bolts from the caliper. Pull the caliper off the rotor, and suspend the caliper with mechanic's wire.

Pry the dust cap from the spindle with a flat-head screwdriver. Pull the cotter pin out of the spindle nut with a pair of pliers, and use a crescent wrench to remove the spindle nut. Pull the bearing and race out of the spindle. Grasp the rotor, and pull it off the spindle.

Pack the new bearings and race in a liberal amount of grease. Slide the rotor onto the spindle, and insert the bearing and race into the spindle. Tighten the spindle nut with a crescent wrench, and reinsert the cotter pin into the nut. Attach the dust cover over the spindle.

Place the caliper over the brake rotor, and tighten the two caliper mounting bolts. Place the wheel onto the axle, and insert the lug nuts by hand. Remove the jack stands, and lower the vehicle to the ground.

Tighten the lug nuts using a lug wrench. Reconnect the negative terminal cable to the battery, and close the hood.

Items you will need

  • Brake rotor and bearings

  • Crescent wrench

  • Ratchet and socket set

  • Pliers

  • Mechanic's wire

  • Lug wrench

  • Flat-head screwdriver

  • Packing grease

 How to Change the Front Rotors on a 1999 Honda Accord

Loosen but do not remove the lug nuts on one of the front wheels of your Accord, then raise the front wheel with the floor jack, making sure the floor jack head is placed on a frame rail. Pump the lever until the wheel is in the air, then place a jack stand near the jack head for extra support. Don't place the stand or jack head on the suspension or body of the car, as this can cause serious damage.

Remove the lug nuts , then pull the wheel and tire off the hub. Set the wheel aside, away from the car.

Remove the caliper from the brake assembly by turning the rear mount bolts counterclockwise. Slide the caliper and pads from the rotor and secure them to the control arm with twist ties--don't allow the caliper to dangle by the brake lines. The pads are held in place by small clips. Remove the clips by using a screwdriver to pry them out. The pads will then come off the caliper pistons.

Remove the rotor by turning the center spindle nut counterclockwise and pulling the rotor from the hub assembly. Replace or resurface the rotor, then slide the new or refurbished rotor onto the hub and return the spindle nut to the original tightness. Replace the caliper and wheel in the reverse process as removal, and lower the Accord.

Repeat the entire process on the opposite brake assembly.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stand

  • Socket set

  • Screwdrivers

  • Lug wrench

 How to Change the Front Rotors on a Ford Taurus

Park the Ford Taurus on a level surface and shut the engine off. Set the emergency brake and open the hood.

Unscrew the cap to the brake fluid reservoir and set it in a safe place.

Jack up the front of the Ford Taurus and put the jack stands behind each front tire along the frame rail of the Ford Taurus. Lower the Taurus onto the jack stands. Inspect to make sure that the Taurus is sitting securely and evenly under the frame rails.

Remove the driver side front tire with the lug wrench. Turn the lug nuts counter-clockwise to loosen and remove the lug nuts.

Slide the wheel off of the wheel hub and set the wheel to the side.

Remove the two upper and lower 12mm caliper mounting bolts in the rear of the caliper with a 1/2 inch drive ratchet and a 12mm socket. Turn the bolts counter-clockwise to loosen and remove.

Slide the flat head screwdriver into the top rear of the brake caliper and pry the rear brake pad inward. This will compress the caliper cylinder and allow you to slide the caliper off of the brake rotor.

Slide the brake caliper straight off of the top of the brake rotor. Hang the brake caliper to the front coil spring with a bungee cord to keep the caliper from hanging by the brake line.

Put on the safety glasses to keep any debris and trash from getting into your eyes when hammering. Tap the rear of the brake rotor with the rubber mallet all the way around the rotor until the rotor loosens from the hub. Slide the front rotor straight off of the hub.

Line the new rotor up with the lugs on the hub and slide the rotor straight onto the hub. Slide the caliper back over the top of the brake rotor.

Screw the two upper and lower 12mm caliper mounting bolts back into the rear of the brake caliper. Tighten these two bolts very tight with the 1/2 inch drive ratchet and 12mm socket.

Slide the wheel back onto the hub and screw the lug nuts back onto the lugs. Tighten the lug nuts by turning the lug nuts clockwise with the lug wrench. Follow these same steps for replacing the front brake rotors on the front passenger side of the Taurus.

Jack the Taurus up and remove the jack stands. Lower the Taurus to the ground.

Add DOT-3 brake fluid to the brake fluid reservoir if needed. Screw the cap back onto the brake fluid reservoir and close the hood.

Crank the Taurus and pump the brakes until you feel the brakes get tight. Pumping the brakes will compress the brake pads back to the original distance from the brake rotor. Turn the engine off. Job complete.

Items you will need

  • Car jack

  • Jack stands

  • Lug wrench

  • 1/2 inch drive ratchet

  • 1/2 inch drive 12mm socket

  • Long flat head screwdriver

  • Bungee cord

  • Safety glasses

  • Rubber mallet

  • New front brake rotors

  • DOT-3 brake fluid

 How to Change the Front Rotors on a 2005 Chevy Silverado

Raise and support the truck on jack stands for safety. Remove the wheels using the lug wrench.

Compress the brake caliper piston by using the ¼-inch drive ratchet and a 10 mm socket and loosen the brake caliper bleeder valve on the top of the caliper. Put the drip pan under the caliper to catch the lost fluid. Insert the common screwdriver in between the brake pad and the rotor, pry the caliper out, moving it closer to the rotor, and push the caliper piston inward. Close the bleeder valve and tighten.

Remove the caliper using the ½-inch drive ratchet and socket and removing the two bolts holding the caliper to the bracket. Hang the caliper up so it is not hanging by its hose.

Remove the caliper mounting bracket using the ½-inch drive ratchet and socket, and remove the two large bolts behind the rotor holding the bracket to the spindle. Remove the rotor by pulling it straight off the hub. Push the new rotor on the hub and clean it with brake cleaner or a solvent to remove the protective coating.

Install all parts in reverse order of removal. Start the truck and pump the brakes slowly until the front brakes adjust and the pedal comes up to normal height.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Lug wrench

  • ½-inch drive ratchet

  • Set of ½-inch drive sockets

  • Set of ¼-inch drive sockets

  • ¼-inch drive ratchet

  • Common screwdriver

  • Drip pan

 How to Change the Front Rotors in an Escape

Apply the parking brake on the Ford Escape. Put the transmission in park. Loosen the lug nuts with the socket of the tire iron.

Lift the vehicle with the lifting jack. Place jack stands beneath the frame of the Ford. Remove the lug nuts and pull the wheels from the wheel bolts.

Turn the steering wheel to the left to access the caliper bolts on the right caliper.

Remove the caliper bolts with a 13-millimeter wrench. The caliper is the metal bracket that surrounds the rotor. It contains the brake pads and is connected to the Escape by the brake line. Once the caliper bolts are removed, pull the caliper from the rotor.

Pull the rotor from the wheel bolts. If the rotor is rusted to the steering knuckle (the part of the vehicle directly contacted by the back side of the rotor) you will have to use force to remove the rotor. If you are not going to be using the rotor again, you can use a hammer to pound the rotor free from the vehicle. Be sure to strike the rotor and not the other parts of the braking system.

If you plan to use the rotor, tap the rotor, with a hammer, on the top hat surface (the smaller ring of the rotor that protrudes from the larger plane of the rotor). The tapping will break the bond of the rust and allow you to pull the rotor from the bolts.

Remove the new rotor from its packaging. Spray all sides of the rotor with brake cleaner. The rotors are shipped with packing oil on them, to preserve the rotor's surfaces. The oil must be removed before the rotors can be installed. Once the surfaces are sprayed, wipe the rotors to get rid of excess cleaner and dissolved oil.

Place the rotor onto the wheel bolts, with the top hat surface side facing out. Replace the caliper around the new rotor and screw in the caliper bolts with the wrench.

Turn the steering wheel to the right to replace the left rotor. Remove the caliper bolts, remove the caliper, remove the rotor, spray and wipe the new rotor, and place it onto the wheel bolts.

Replace the caliper to the left rotor and tighten the bolts with the 13-millimeter wrench.

Turn the steering wheel so the wheels are pointed forward.

Put the wheels back on the Escape's wheel bolts and screw on the lug nuts by hand.

Lift the Ford with the jack and remove the jack stands. Lower the vehicle to the ground.

Tighten the lug nuts with the tire iron.

Items you will need

  • Tire iron

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • 13-millimeter wrench

  • Hammer

  • New rotors

  • Brake cleaner spray

  • Clean towel