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HOW TO RESURFACE DEFENDER BRAKE DISCS

HOW TO RESURFACE DEFENDER BRAKE DISCS

by Dave Barker, 20th May 2016

How to

Replacing brake discs can involve considerable time and money, but a re-face can be a cost-effective cure for judder, vibration and corrosion. Dave Barker explains

Less than 5000 miles ago I replaced all the brakes on my Defender. As well as fitting new discs and pads, I also replaced the calipers. Recently, however, the Defender started to suffer from juddering when braking. The problem was diagnosed as a warped disc, or more than one. But, with no signs of damage, we were uncertain which disc was causing the problem, though I suspected it was the rears. The warping could be due to a disc or discs getting very hot at some point, and then suddenly cooled. Other reasons for brake judder or vibration can be disc/hub run out or, with older discs, corrosion or even a thickness variation in the disc. Whatever the cause, my bad case of brake vibration needed to be fixed. With my discs showing little sign of wear, instead of replacing them, it was suggested that I had them re-faced by taking a skim off the surface on each side.

I wouldn’t normally have considered this option because I expected the cost of having discs re-faced to be far more than the cost of replacing them, especially with aftermarket brake discs being so reasonable. However, when you add the labour cost of fitting new discs on a Defender, especially the fronts, it does work out cheaper to have them skimmed. 

And on, say, a Range Rover where a genuine brake disc is listed at over £83 then provided your discs are not worn, having them re-faced is an even more cost-effective option, as it is for high performance vehicles with vented, cross slotted and drilled discs. Re-facing can also be useful on vehicles that are not used all year and laid up, often resulting in the disc brakes becoming rusted through lack of use. The equipment used to resurface my discs is known as a Pro-Cut On-Car Brake Lathe. As the name suggests, it resurfaces the discs on the vehicle, taking into account any run out, and ensures the disc is matched to the hub and machined at 90 degrees to the axle. The complete caliper assembly first needs to be removed, which is a relative easy job, then the Pro-Cut is attached to the hub by means of an adaptor.



The machine then auto-adjusts itself for lateral run out of the disc, before a manual first rough cut is taken off the disc, cutting inwards, and normally removing around 0.1 to 0.2 mm off the disc. Once that is complete the Pro-Cut machine is set to automatic mode and it then works outwards with a fine cut, again taking off 0.2 mm, making a total cut of around 0.3 to 0.4 mm. The Pro-Cut On-Car Brake Lathe is approved by leading manufactures including Land Rover, and also by brake component specialist, EBC, if a customer has brake vibrations after fitting EBC pads and discs. In my case, we first resurfaced the rear discs because we suspected they were causing the juddering. But during a subsequent road test the brake vibration had only improved slightly, so it was decided to re-face the front discs as well. Doing that cured the juddering completely.

Hopefully, I can now look forward to several years of vibration and judder free motoring. Because of the specialist equipment needed, this job is not a DIY prospect. This feature shows what can be done and how a commercial garage would carry out the work. Not all defective discs can be reclaimed in this way, and there are limits on the remaining thickness of the disc after surfacing work has been carried out. So a well worn disc may already be too thin to be re-faced. A good repairer with access to the appropriate specifications will advise what, if anything, can be done to restore the discs in a safe manner, and whether the process is applicable to your particular Land Rover model.

This is not a DIY job, simply because specialised equipment is required

TIME: 2 HOURS COST: FROM £30

PARTS AND COSTS:
From around £30 per pair, plus new pads. Cost depends on the vehicle and size of the discs being skimmed.

CONTACT:
Station Auto Services, who carried out the work shown here. Contact them at Unit 6, Carlton Minott  Business Park, Carlton Miniott, Thirsk YO7 4NE. Tel: 01845 524934. Email:stationautoservice@tiscali.co.uk

1
STEP 1
STEP 1

The Defender is lifted off the ground for a full brake inspection prior to any remedial work being done.

2
STEP 2
STEP 2

The rear wheels were removed and the discs inspected for signs of damage that could be causing the vibrations, but no damage was seen.

3
STEP 3
STEP 3

Before the disc can be resurfaced the brake caliper assembly is removed and supported safely out of the way.

4
STEP 4
STEP 4

Before attaching the equipment, the face of the hub is cleaned of dirt and any corrosion to ensure the Pro-Cut lathe is aligned correctly.

5
STEP 5
STEP 5

The Pro-Cut lathe is attached to the Defender’s hub via a special adaptor, ensuring correct alignment to the hub.

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