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How to Remove Brake Rotors From a Saturn

by Jody L. Campbell

Whether your brakes are pulsating or making noise or someone just told you the rotors on your Saturn were getting thin, replacing them does not have to take place at the local brakes and repair shop. If you have some tools of your own and want to save some money on labor charges, you might consider taking on the moderate challenge and doing it yourself. Many Saturn models have lug nuts like most cars, but some have lug studs. There's no difference in the procedure to remove tires and replace rotors. The only difference is how the tires come off.

How to Remove Brake Rotors From a Saturn

Park the vehicle in a flat, level paved or concrete surface. Apply the parking brake. Turn the ignition off and remove the keys. Place the wheel chock behind one of the rear tires.

Remove the hub caps and break the lug nuts or lug studs loose on the left tire with the breaking bar and a 19 millimeter socket.

Lift the left front quarter of the vehicle with the floor jack and place jack stand on the frame rail.

Remove the left front tire.

Locate the caliper bolts in the inside of the caliper. Match up a 1/2 inch drive socket and remove the bolts using the socket and ratchet. Pry off the caliper using a large straight-edged screwdriver and support the caliper with a bungy cord to keep the coil spring out of the way. Do not allow the caliper to dangle by the brake hose.

Remove the pads from the bridge, but take note of their position (up/down, inside pad, outside pad) in order to replace them in the same position when it is time to put everything back together.

Locate the caliper bridge bolts behind the backing plate and remove them with the appropriate-sized socket and breaking bar. When they're broken free, switch to the ratchet to speed things up.

Remove the rotor from the hub. If it is rusted or seized onto the hub, you may need to hammer it off with a ball peen hammer, taking care not to hit the fender or backing plate. Hit the fins of the rotor and avoid hitting the hub near the studs if you can help it.

Clean the hub facing and edges with a medium grade sandpaper as best as you can.

Spray the new rotors with brake clean spray. New rotors are coated with an anti-rust oil coating to prevent condensation in the air from rusting them. This coating will need to be cleaned off thoroughly, so be liberal with the brake clean spray and wipe dry with a shop rag.

Place the new rotor onto the hub. Replace the bridge and tighten bridge bolts very tight. Replace pads appropriately into the bridge.

Squeeze the piston of the caliper in with a C-clamp until it bottoms out. Place the caliper over the edge of the rotor and the bridge. Tighten caliper bolts, but do not over-tighten.

Replace the tire and the lug nuts or the lug studs. Tighten them as tight as you can get them with the wheel elevated and then tighten them again with the torque wrench set to appropriate foot pound specifications (probably 100 foot pounds will suffice) and the 19 millimeter socket in an alternate fashion when the vehicle is lowered back on the ground.

Repeat these same steps for the opposite wheel.

Be sure to pump the foot pedal when you're done to restore hydraulic pressure to the caliper pistons. Failure to do so could result in a serious accident because you will not have any hydraulic pressure when you go to apply the brakes while test driving. Four of five pumps should do the trick until the foot pedal feels normal. Pop the hood open and check and adjust the level of the brake fluid, but only after you have pumped the foot pedal. Remove the wheel chock and test drive.

Warning

  • When lifting a vehicle on a paved asphalt surface, remember that on hot, sunny days asphalt can become very soft. Keep this in mind when placing the jack stands under the weight of the vehicle. You may incur damage to your driveway or worse, if the jack stand fails due to soft asphalt.

Items you will need

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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