Question #1: When switching from organic to ceramic brake pads, on a scale of 1-10, how important is it to resurface or replace perfectly good rotors?

Question #2: Can the perfectly good rotors be hand-sanded instead of resurfaced?

Background/Additional Information

  • I am planning to give my 2018 Nissan Altima with 150,000 miles to my 23-year-old son who like most young men drive fast and brake hard.
  • The only thing flagged by a pre-purchase inspection at a local Nissan dealership was replacing the aftermarket organic brake pads and they provided me with a quote for installing new OEM organic brake pads. (They said the rotors do not need to be resurfaced or replaced.)
  • I am planning to do the brake job with parts from an online vendor.
  • A local independent brake shop said the pads need to be replaced, but the rotors are in great shape, recommended ceramic pads based on my son's driving habits, and provided me with two quotes:
    1. Installing new aftermarket OEM-compliant organic brake pads, and
    2. Installing new ceramic brake pads and replacing the rotors.
  • The brake shop said despite the excellent condition of the rotors, when changing the pad type from organic to ceramic, the rotors should be resurfaced or replaced and they recommend replacing them because it will be cheaper than resurfacing them.
  • Welcome to Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair! Feb 2, 2023 at 19:04

2 Answers 2


Just as with any brake pad replacement, the rotor condition is the key factor. If the thickness is still meeting specs and the surface is relatively smooth, then use them as they are.

If there is any scoring or other surface damage or if the surface is uneven, then resurface.

I am not aware of any hard-and-fast "resurface rule" here.

Hand sanding? I don't think this is applicable except for cases where there is just some surface stuff that you need to get off. Hand sanding doesn't allow you go ensure an even finish.

  • The rotor needs to be reconditioned. Doesn't mean it needs to be turned, but you need to take the glaze off of it. If you don't the new pads won't bed properly. There definitely isn't any "resurface rule", however, it's usually the best bet to ensure the best braking performance. That means getting it resurfaced or a new rotor. My preference is getting a new rotor so you don't have to deal with any lingering issues the old rotor might have. Feb 2, 2023 at 22:56
  • Thank you very much! Feb 20, 2023 at 16:51

I once swapped ceramic for organic. During my research, I learned there is nothing inherently better about the braking capacity of ceramic. They are rated for braking ability and wear life, just like organic, so you can choose to upgrade or not. The primary reason for switching to ceramic is that there is no metallic dust generated.

My rotors had only 20k miles at the time. I did not cut, resurface, or condition them in any way when I switched to ceramic. It's now 40k miles later and I have had no problems whatsoever. I chose ceramic pads that had the same braking specs as my original metallic pads.

  • Thank you very much! Feb 20, 2023 at 16:51

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