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How to Replace Brake Rotors on a Suburban

by Jody L. Campbell; Updated November 07, 2017

Items you will need

  • Car lift (side-by style to suspend the wheels)

  • Safety glasses

  • 1/2 inch drive impact gun

  • 1/2 inch drive impact socket set

  • 1/2 inch drive impact universal swivel

  • 1/2 inch drive ratchet

  • Penetrating oil

  • 10 millimeter (size) by 1.5 millimeter (thread pitch) bolts (2)

  • Angled die grinder and coarse reconditioning discs

  • Brake clean solvent

  • Large straightedge screwdriver or medium pry bar

  • Mechanic's wire

  • Brake fluid

  • Brake fluid siphon

  • Tire crayon

  • Rubber mallet

  • Replacement rotors

The Suburban has been in the GM family for many years as a large SUV. Although the vehicle has been through many generations and redesigns, replacing the brakes has remained relatively unchanged. There are slight differences between the weight ratings of the vehicle (1/2 ton, 3/4 ton, and dual rear wheel models) but the concept is similar. Replacing the rotors usually indicates a problem with the rotor. Scoring or excessive runout (warping of the rotor which results in vibrations during braking) are common reasons for replacing rotors.

How to Replace Brake Rotors on a Suburban

Place the Suburban safely and securely onto a car lift. Before lifting, release the hood latch and remove the master cylinder cover. Remove 2/3 of the brake fluid from the master cylinder by sucking it out with a brake fluid siphon. Replace the cover.

Lift the Suburban to a comfortable height to work on the brakes (waist level). Remove the hub caps and then remove the lug nuts using the impact gun and a socket. Remove the wheels.

Remove the front wheel hub extension if applicable (dual rear wheel models). Insert the screwdriver or pry bar through the caliper port and into one of the brake rotor vents to prevent it from moving. Make a mark with a tire crayon on one of the lug studs and also on the wheel hub extension to establish the relationship between the the extension and its position on the hub. When it comes time to replace the hub extension, it is strongly suggested to put it on the hub in the same position in which it was removed. Marking the hub and the stud will ensure you are replacing it in that fashion. Remove the extension bolts with the gun and a socket and then remove the extension. Tap it with a rubber mallet if necessary to break it free from the hub. If a wheel hub extension is not present, skip this step and proceed to step 4.

Insert the large screwdriver or pry bar into the front open port of the caliper and pry the edge of the rotor against the caliper piston. This will compress the piston of the caliper enough to remove it from the knuckle. Pry the rotor inward slowly and as far as it will allow you to. The replacement rotor will be thicker than the existing one so more room will be necessary when you're ready to reinstall the caliper onto the new rotor.

Remove the caliper assembly by removing the two caliper assembly bolts with the impact gun and socket. A swivel may be required to properly seat the socket onto the caliper assembly bolts. Remove the caliper assembly and secure it with mechanic's wire to a front-end component so it does not hang by the hydraulic caliper hose.

Remove the rotor. If necessary, spray penetrating oil into the two threaded holes in the front hub face of the rotor. Insert the two 10x1.5 millimeter bolts into the holes and then tighten them alternately with the ratchet and a socket to draw the rotor from the hub. Remove the bolts to reuse on the other rotor if desired.

Clean the surface of the hub using an angled die grinder and reconditioning disc. Be sure to wear safety glasses before attempting this. Clean the face of the hub and the edges (that the replacement rotors will contact) of the hub so that they're free of burrs, rust, and corrosion build-up with the die grinder.

Clean off the oily residue on the replacement rotors by spraying on brake clean solvent. Install the new rotor onto the hub. If applicable, replace the wheel hub extension and bolts.

Replace the caliper assembly and bolts.

Replace the wheel and lug nuts. Be sure to torque the lug nuts per proper torque specifications of the particular Suburban year and model you're working on. Replace the hub cap.

Repeat steps 3 through 10 for the other rotor.

Lower the Suburban to the ground and pump the foot brake pedal to seat the pads against the new rotors. Check and add brake fluid to the master cylinder.

Tips

If applicable or desired, follow the same procedure to replace rear brake rotors.

About the Author

Jody L. Campbell spent over 15 years as both a manager and an under-car specialist in the automotive repair industry. Prior to that, he managed two different restaurants for over 15 years. Campbell began his professional writing career in 2004 with the publication of his first book.

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