As a BMW owner, you already know that your vehicle requires regular maintenance to ensure reliable performance and longevity. One crucial aspect of BMW maintenance is properly caring for the braking system.
The rotors in your BMW’s braking system can wear out or become warped over time due to repeated exposure to high heat and friction. When this happens, it may be necessary to have the rotors turned or resurfaced to restore them to their proper condition.
But what exactly does it mean to “turn” rotors? And can you turn BMW rotors at home, or do you need to take your car to a professional mechanic?
In this article, we’ll answer these questions and more so you can make an informed decision about whether turning your BMW’s rotors is the right choice for your vehicle.
“Proper brake maintenance is essential for any vehicle, but especially for high-performance cars like BMWs.”
We’ll also cover some best practices for maintaining your BMW’s braking system to minimize the need for rotor turning or replacement down the road.
Whether you’re a seasoned DIY mechanic or a BMW enthusiast looking to learn more about your car’s upkeep, keep reading to get all the information you need about turning BMW rotors!
Understanding What Turning Rotors Means
The Basics of Rotors and Turning
If you own a BMW, one thing that is inevitable is the need for maintenance or repairs. One of the most crucial parts that keep your vehicle safe on the road is the braking system. Over time, the friction between the brake pads and rotors leads to wear and tear on the rotor’s surface. Eventually, this can reduce stopping power, create uneven wear, vibrations, and even dangerous driving conditions.
This is where turning rotors come into play as part of routine brake maintenance. Turning a rotor is often referred to as “resurfacing” or “machining,” which entails removing damaged metal from the rotor’s surface. The process helps to restore smoothness, prolonging the lifespan of brakes while ensuring maximum safety on the road.
The Importance of Turning Rotors
As an essential part of the brake system, it’s vital to take note of any irregularities with your vehicle’s brake system. Signs that your car might need rotor resurfacing include increased stopping distance, vibration in the steering wheel while braking, squeaking sounds, pulsation or wobbling when applying the brakes. Any of these symptoms require inspection by a qualified mechanic before turning rotors.
It’s important to note that not all rotors are candidates for machining; some may be too thin already, making it impossible to remove additional material without weakening them further. It’s up to your mechanic to examine the rotors’ thickness and decide whether they are viable candidates for machining.
“Replacing worn-out brake parts such as brake rotors ensures quality control and their performance capabilities.” -Mark Graves (Auto Service World)
Maintaining your vehicle’s braking system saves costs associated with more extensive repairs, time and money saved in the long run. Turning rotors is an inexpensive solution to extend your brakes’ lifespan without replacing them entirely while ensuring they perform optimally on the road.
Factors That Affect Whether You Can Turn BMW Rotors
Thickness of the Rotors
The thickness of your BMW’s rotors is a crucial factor when determining whether you can turn them. Generally, if they are beyond their useful life or have been turned before multiple times, it might be time to replace them outright.
If your BMW’s rotor is too thin, you may not be able to turn it as doing so could make its surface weaker and more prone to cracking. Additionally, if there isn’t enough metal for machining, it may not truly solve any braking problems at all, meaning it would waste both time and money.
- Front rotors – minimum thickness ranges from 25mm-28mm
- Rear rotors (solid) – minimum thickness ranges from 8mm-9mm
- Rear rotors (ventilated) – minimum thickness ranges from 20mm-22mm
To determine if your rotors are thick enough to get machined, consult your BMW owner’s manual or specifications guide.
Condition of the Rotors
The condition of your BMW’s rotors will also come into play when deciding whether turning them is possible. Deep grooves, cracks, uneven wear, or other signs of damage suggest that the brake parts should be replaced entirely instead of just turned.
Turning such inefficient parts may result in further strain on the brakes’ systems and cause serious road accidents. Your mechanic or technician will run precise measurements to determine the viability of turning the rotor’s damaged area or compromising the shape of the rotor.
Furthermore, rust and corrosion buildup may happen around these surfaces with exposed bare metal being particularly prone to corroding. If this is the case, your mechanic will advise on whether to replace or turn them after a thorough inspection process.
Type of Brake Pads
The type of brake pads on your BMW matters more than you might think when it comes to turning rotors. Metallic brake pad compound materials are rougher and harder, meaning they tend to wear down rotors quickly; while organic brake pads may be gentler but also cause deposits that can build up causing severe pulsation and rotor damage.
An experienced technician who knows how to measure the thickness and surface corrosion should guide you further as well as provide recommendations based on your particular driving conditions and needs. They may suggest upgrading or changing brake pads material to prolong rotor life depending on the results obtained from their findings.
“The biggest enemy of any part in a car is its quality, not age,” -Richard Rawlings
Checking the thickness, condition, and brake pad composition always determine if you can turn your BMW’s rotors without compromising braking performance or overall safety. It’s imperative to consult a professional for expert advice before going ahead with re-surfacing rather than outright replacement so that your vehicle performs better, safer, and lasts longer.
The Pros and Cons of Turning BMW Rotors
Pros of Turning Rotors
Turning rotors, also known as machining or resurfacing, can improve the braking performance of your BMW by smoothing out surface irregularities. This process involves removing a small amount of material from the rotor’s face to create an even surface that allows for better brake pad contact.
To understand more about the benefits of turning BMW rotors, let’s take a look at some of the pros:
- Better brake pad contact – A smoother surface improves the grip between the brake pads and the rotors, allowing for better stopping power and reduced wear on both components.
- Cheaper than replacing rotors – Turning rotors is often cheaper than replacing them entirely, especially if they are not severely damaged.
- Eco-friendly option – By resurfacing old rotors instead of throwing them away, you reduce waste in landfills and help the environment.
Cons of Turning Rotors
While turning rotors may seem like a great solution, there are also a few downsides to consider. It’s important to weigh these cons against the pros when considering whether to turn your BMW rotors or replace them altogether.
Here are some common cons associated with this process:
- Potential decrease in lifespan – Once you machine a rotor, its life span decreases because it becomes thinner. Therefore, this process should only be used when maintaining an older vehicle and not as a routine maintenance item on newer vehicles
- Inconsistent results – Some machining shops might not have the right equipment or personnel who lack experience handling luxury cars such as BMW
- Dangerous vibrations – If the rotors are not machined according to manufacturer’s specifications, this could lead to dangerous vibrations during braking which can be even more dangerous than unturned but evenly worn down rotors.
When Turning Rotors is a Good Option
If you experience any of these problems while driving your BMW, turning the rotors may be a good option:
- Dramatic reduction in stopping power caused by uneven rotor wear or warping.
- Budget constraints for replacing rotors entirely with new ones.
- Noise coming from brakes due to rust buildup on the rotor face or resurfaced before with positive results (and does not require replacement).
When Turning Rotors is Not Recommended
In some situations, turning rotors might not be recommended. For instance:
- Rotor damage – Extensive damages such as heavy scoring or deeply cracked rotors require replacements rather than surface repairs.
- Thin / wearing rotors – Rotors that are thinner than manufacturer’s stipulated thickness should go directly for replacement unless the car will be immediately retired soon after the machining.(It’s impossible for a machining shop technician to know how close they are without measuring each rotor)
- Spoiled brake calipers – Badly damaged brake calipers cannot properly push the brake pads into the rotors leading to brake failure which might put the driver and others on the road at risk of accidents
“The quality of work done while machine a rotor mainly depends on the expertise of the technician handling it,” says Gary Wlodarski, Director of Training & Development at Brake Parts Inc’
The decision to turn or replace your BMW rotors depends on a number of factors, including the severity of damage and budget constraints. It’s best to have an experienced mechanic inspect your vehicle before you make any decisions.
Alternatives to Turning BMW Rotors
If you’re wondering whether or not you can turn BMW rotors, the answer is no. This is due to the rotor’s design, which features a thin layer of coating on top of the metal surface that makes it difficult to resurface. As such, the best alternative is to replace them altogether.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options available for replacing your BMW’s worn-out rotors. The most common solution is purchasing new OEM (original equipment manufacturer) rotors from a dealer or online retailer. However, more economical aftermarket versions are also available and will perform just as well if installed properly.
“While there are various grades of brake rotors available in the market, OEM ones would be one of the best choices since they were designed specifically to meet your car’s braking system needs.” – Consumer Reports
If you want something more performance-oriented, upgrading to drilled and slotted rotors can improve cooling efficiency and reduce stopping distance. These types of rotors have channels machined into their surfaces that allow heat and gases to escape, providing better airflow and improved braking performance.
Upgrading Brake Pads
In addition to replacing your BMW’s rotors, another way to enhance braking performance is by upgrading the brake pads. High-performance brake pads offer superior stopping power compared to standard OEM pads and can help prevent pedal fade during heavy use.
Organic pads offer low levels of dust, minimal noise production, and are relatively inexpensive. Ceramic pads provide better endurance, with less wear on both the pad and rotor, while metallic pads provide maximum stopping power but tend to produce more dust and can be noisy at times.
“When choosing brake pads, especially when looking to upgrade, it’s important to choose ones that match your driving style and vehicle. For example, if you do a lot of city driving or have a heavier car, you may want pads with more stopping power.” – Car and Driver
It’s worth noting that changing the brake pads on BMWs requires additional steps compared to other cars due to their complex braking system design. As such, it’s recommended to leave this task to experienced professionals who can ensure proper installation.
When to Seek Professional Help for Rotors
To ensure your BMW’s braking system is working efficiently, it’s imperative to maintain its rotors. While the thought of turning BMW rotors may sound like an easy alternative to save some money, you must determine whether your car requires professional help or not.
Squeaking or Grinding Sounds
If you hear squeaking or grinding sounds while pressing down on the brake pedal, it’s a sign that your BMW’s rotor needs immediate attention. These noises can be unbearable and are one of the most common indicators that something isn’t right with your brakes. According to Chris Longhurst from Your Mechanic, “If this is happening, you should drive straight to a mechanic and have your vehicle inspected.”
The pads squeeze into the rotor as soon as you apply the brake pedal to produce friction, bringing the car to a halt. Brake dust and heat generated during the process create wear and tear on rotors, causing them to warp over time. When you hear these sounds, it indicates uneven pressure distribution in your calipers, which leads to scoring, pitting, or glazing of the rotor surfaces. Turning won’t fix this issue since there isn’t enough metal left on the rotor surface to remove the grooves present on them non-uniformly. Meanwhile, professionals diagnose the actual problem by taking precise measurements and review if some brake parts require replacement.
Vibrations While Braking
Another clear indication that you need assistance turning your BMW rotors is when you feel vibrations while braking. Vibrations happen when the uneven surface of your worn-out rotor interacts with the rest of the braking components and cause a wobble effect during application. This effect becomes more intense each time you hit the brakes, producing different levels of shaking until it feels impossible merely to mount your vehicle any longer. What’s more worrying about these vibrations is that they increase the risk of catastrophic accidents, given their ability to cause loss of brake control altogether.
If you notice vibration while braking, a professional examination of the braking system is necessary. While rotor turning may solve minor irregularities in the surface of the rotors, it can eradicate not all forms of warping or grooves on the disk. A mechanic who specializes exclusively in BMW vehicles will troubleshoot each aspect to determine the exact source of those vibrations and replace components that require replacement so you can be confident in getting back on the road safely again.
Uneven Wear on Brake Pads
If one set of brake pads has worn out before others due to uneven wear, it’s critical to check whether the rotors are out of balance as well. It would result from either accumulation of debris on the hubs where the wheel fits or improper installation of new parts under several conditions. If this occurs, you must seek professional services immediately. Note that once pad friction material starts wearing off in an irregular pattern, it results in less stopping power produced by your car. Turning isn’t always the right option since severe overheating causes microscopic damage to the metal structure beneath the pad material as well.
The best solution for uneven wear is to identify why it’s occurring in the first place. Professionals address the issue and correct it through specialized procedures to keep your vehicle functioning correctly and optimize its performance. To perform effective maintenance, reaching out to specialists with modern machinery enhances your vehicle’s longevity and overall value.
“Preventive measures are important when driving,” says Direct Auto Insurance. “Checking brakes regularly and making the right repairs saves money, time, and resources.”
Taking care of your car by maintaining and fixing problematic areas like the BMW rotors is crucial. While rotor turning could be an option in certain circumstances, it’s essential to seek professional assistance when indicators such as grinding sounds, vibration while braking and uneven wear of brake pads occur. Seek the services of trustworthy mechanics that specialize in BMW vehicles for optimal solutions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can BMW Rotors Be Turned?
Yes, BMW rotors can be turned if they meet certain criteria. The rotors must have enough material remaining after being resurfaced to maintain their structural integrity. Additionally, the rotors must not have any visible cracks or other signs of damage that would make them unsafe to use. It is important to note that not all rotors are able to be turned, and a professional mechanic should always be consulted to determine if turning is a safe and appropriate option for your specific vehicle.
What Are The Signs That BMW Rotors Need To Be Turned?
The most common sign that BMW rotors need to be turned is when they start to produce a pulsating or vibrating sensation when the brakes are applied. This is usually caused by uneven wear on the rotor surface, which can be corrected by resurfacing. Additionally, if the rotor surface is visibly scored or grooved, this may also indicate the need for turning. A professional mechanic can inspect your BMW’s brakes and provide recommendations for any necessary maintenance or repairs.
What Tools Are Needed To Turn BMW Rotors?
To turn BMW rotors, a professional mechanic will typically use a brake lathe, which is a specialized machine designed to resurface brake rotors. In addition to the lathe, the mechanic may also use a variety of other tools such as a micrometer to measure the thickness of the rotor, a dial indicator to check for runout, and various hand tools to remove and reinstall the rotor on the vehicle.
What Is The Cost To Turn BMW Rotors?
The cost to turn BMW rotors can vary depending on several factors, such as the type of vehicle, the severity of the damage or wear on the rotors, and the location of the repair shop. Generally, the cost for turning rotors ranges from $100 to $200 per axle. However, it is important to note that the cost may be higher if other brake components need to be replaced, such as brake pads or calipers.
Can You Turn BMW Rotors Yourself?
Turning BMW rotors is a complex process that requires specialized equipment and knowledge. While it may be possible for a skilled DIY mechanic to turn their own rotors, it is generally recommended that this task be left to a professional mechanic. Attempting to turn rotors without the proper equipment or expertise can lead to serious safety issues, such as brake failure or loss of control of the vehicle.
How Can You Tell If Your BMW Rotors Need To Be Replaced Instead Of Turned?
In some cases, BMW rotors may be too damaged or worn to be safely turned and must be replaced instead. Signs that your rotors may need to be replaced include severe scoring or grooving on the rotor surface, cracks or other signs of structural damage, or if the rotor has been previously turned and is now too thin to be safely resurfaced again. A professional mechanic can inspect your brakes and provide recommendations for the appropriate course of action.