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I was planning on replacing my rear rotors and brake pads this weekend. The rotors are rusted on. I was using a rotor puller, and was probably too impatient. Now I have about 25% of the rotor snapped off. The rotor is still rusted on.

I can gently try to use the rotor puller around what's left of the rotor. I could try switching to two bolts and nuts maybe. Does anyone else have any advice on how to proceed?

Thanks, Will

  • A late response on this. In the end. I picked up some PB Blaster from a local store and re-attached the rotor puller to what was left of the rotor. I got the rotor to the point where it was pulling on the edges and then soaked all the seams with PB blaster and let it sit over night. The next day I just slowly turned the bolt on the rotor puller. 1/2 turn on the ratchet every 1/2 hour, also adding more PB blaster every time. Rotor finally pop'ed off after 4 hours of this. For the record the e-brake wasn't engaged. There are no threaded holes on the rear rotors on my s-10 either. – monodactylus Oct 28 '14 at 10:13
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Did you back the emergency brake off, or maybe you have them on?

If your e-brake is not at issue ... Spray the center section and the stud areas down with PB-Blaster or another very good rust penetrant. Let it sit for several hours. Then beat the heck out of it with a rubber mallet from the backside. What you are looking for is just a little movement on one side, then move to the other side. Two sides should work, but don't be afraid to work it in a triangular pattern. When I say beat it, don't be afraid of it. Hit it like you mean it. A bead blow hammer will work well, also. Don't use a metal hammer, as I'd you swing and miss, you run the risk of hurting something besides the dead rotor, to include yourself. If you get a little movement out of it and it appears to stop moving, pound it back into place and start again. This will help loosen things up and will actually help.

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Will, you have DISK brakes, correct? And the calipers are off, so the park brake now has nothing at all to do with things, your rotors are just rusted onto the hubs.

There are two things you can do, and you'll probably have to do both of them.

First, find TWO ball-peen or similar hammers and a pair of protective glasses. Screw all the lug nuts on for several turns. Rest the head of one hammer lightly on the rotor surface directly between any two of the lug studs and hit the other end of the head with your second hammer. The whole point of using two hammers is to protect the lug nuts and studs - if you accidentally hit them with a hammer, you WILL damage them irreversibly; the first hammer is there ONLY to act as a means of transmitting the hammer impact to the rotor/hub face with minimal risk to the lug nuts & studs. Strike in that spot several times, fairly hard, then move to a spot between the next pair of lug studs and repeat. Go all the way around the hub face that way. SOMETIMES this is enough to get the job done - the hammer impacts transfer through the "buffer" hammer to the rotor face, then transmit through the rotor to the hub face, which "bounces" slightly but violently. That "bounce" gets transmitted back to the rotor, which vibrates in response, and that vibration helps free up the rust binding it to the hub. The hammers should be LIGHTWEIGHT (don't use six-pound hand sledges) so they can bounce, and you need to strike rather HARD with them (a sharp RAP that makes a crisp tapping sound).

If that's not enough to get the job done, Step 2 involves getting hold of two propane torches. PROPANE torches, the kind used for plumbing. They're cheap, they're common (you may be able to borrow a couple from neighbors), they're handy for lots of other things afterwards, and they're safe for everything you're going to do here. Light BOTH torches, adjust for about as high a flame as they can reasonably do without the flame "storming", and play the flames on the rotor area between the lug studs - one torch between two lugs, the other torch diametrically opposite, between two OTHER lugs studs. After heating for fifteen or twenty seconds, move both flames to different spots - still staying between the lugs. 'Round and 'round and 'round, just don't hold flame in any one spot for a great long time. You'll get tired, you'll get worried, keep at it.

The goal HERE is to heat the ROTOR, which will expand... and the center hole will grow slightly, while the hub center will not expand as fast because the rotor won't transmit heat to the hub as fast as the torches transmit heat to the rotor.

At some magical point, you'll hear a crisp SNAPping noise, which will be the rotor beginning to release. If you're lucky, it'll release completely and pop out from the hub. If not, keep after the torches until you hear a second SNAP. Have some heavy leather gloves handy to remove the rotor - it SHOULD be pretty hot by this time.

Magic, what you can do sometimes with torches. 8) I've had to do that to release WHEELS, even.

The snapping noise won't be the rotor cracking - it's just the sound of release, and doesn't indicate any damage.

Whichever way works for you - hammers or torches - let the hub cool down on its own, then sand the hub center (which registers the rotor's center hole) until you've got shiny metal there... then smear with a SMALL amount of anti-seize compound before you install the new rotor. SMALL amount, only enough to wet the metal... don't daub it on lavishly.

  • Parking brakes on these are inside the back of the rotor hat, not incorporated in the discs. Also, heating the lugs and heat treated axle shaft with a torch is not a good idea in my book as it can cause failure due to loss of structural integrity. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Aug 9 '14 at 14:24
  • For REAL? An S-10 has mechanical park brakes INSIDE the rotor? I'm astounded. Good to know. At any rate, the axle shaft carries no issues with heating because it's not a hardened shaft - it's fully annealed for maximum strength. Hardened, it'd be hard but not as strong... and neither the lugs nor the hub would ever reach annealing temperature (low glow) anyway, provided that propane torches are used. At most, the metal will reach about 300*F before it "pops". Annealing temperature is well over twice that. – TDHofstetter Aug 9 '14 at 14:47
  • Verified - the park brake uses SHOES INSIDE the rotor. RayBestos recommends driving out one of the lug studs so you can get to the park brake adjuster with a long screwdriver. – TDHofstetter Aug 9 '14 at 14:54
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Like the previous answer, the handbrake adjusment MUST BE fully wound back off. The rotors should have two threaded holes in them which allow a couple of buckshee bolts to be passed through them and bottom on the drive shaft. By tightening them equally and progressively it shoud allow the rotor to 'wiggle' off. But have that penetrating fluid and that good 2lb hammer to hand just in case. The problem lies with the handbrake shoes wearing a groove inside of the rotor drum, or just general corrosion from a lack of use preventing the drum passing over the shoes. There are rare cases of the the shoes friction material becoming un-bonded and jamming inside the drum. As happens, when the drums have to be forced off over the shoes the pins and springs that hold the shoes to its backplate can be easily damaged and may need to be replaced.

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A late response on this. In the end. I picked up some PB Blaster from a local store and re-attached the rotor puller to what was left of the rotor. I got the rotor to the point where it was pulling on the edges and then soaked all the seams with PB blaster and let it sit over night. The next day I just slowly turned the bolt on the rotor puller. 1/2 turn on the ratchet every 1/2 hour, also adding more PB blaster every time. Rotor finally pop'ed off after 4 hours of this.

For the record the e-brake wasn't engaged. There are no threaded holes on the rear rotors on my s-10 either

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