Archive | 7:47 PM

DIY: From Rust to Redemption

13 Sep

None of us have trailer queens, but we all want our cars looking their best at all times. One area that always has gotten under my skin is the brake rotor hat. While some rotors come with a protective coating on the hat, many more do not. In this installment we will cover this easy DIY anyone can do at home.

Rotors are made of iron. When iron meets water and air, rust results. Just look at your brake disk after washing your car, or after a rainy night. You’ll see a faint amount of rust forming in no time. Now, on the disk face it’s not a big deal because as the pad sweeps the rotor, it acts like a razor on your face, and cleans the surface. But the hat never comes in contact with the pad, so the rust forms, stays, and continues to form over time. Even brand new rotors will experience this. After this installment, you’ll put an end to it for good.

What you’ll need:

320 grit sandpaper, brake cleaner, clean rags, high temp paint in your choice of color, plastic shopping bag (like from a supermarket or store), masking tape.

Start off by loosening the lugs while the car is on the ground or ramps. Next, begin jacking up your car via the factory suggested jack points. Don’t forget to set your ebrake and have the car in gear or park. Also use a chock behind one of the rear tires to prevent it rolling backwards. A small block of wood works well for this too. Finish taking the lugs off and remove each tire.

These rotors have only been on the car a couple weeks but you already see rust forming.


Using the sandpaper, scuff the rusted area well, removing the rust. If its heavily caked on you may want to consider removing the disk completed and setting it in one of the commercially available rust removers such as Evapo Rust or Krud Kutter. For very bad areas, a rust inhibiting primer can also be used prior to paint.

Use brake cleaner on the sanded area to remove any of the debris and leave a clean area for painting. Wipe it down with a clean rag.

Next use your masking tape to isolate the hub section from the rest of the disk. Don’t worry about being too perfect here. Once the disk hits the rotor face any light paint will be wiper straight off. Also be sure to mask off the lug studs as well. You don’t want paint on these as it can make installing the lugs a real pain.


Take the plastic bag and wrap it around the caliper to protect it from the paint.

Next up, shake the paint well. I used VHT Flat Black Engine Enamel. For higher temperature threshold you can use VHT or similar header paint. Each comes in a wide range of colors to suit your tastes.

Use even coats and go lightly, overlapping your prior stroke each time. Allow about 15 minutes between coats. There will be one small section under the disk while the rest is exposed. After about 30 minutes, just remove the necessary about of tape, move the disk the appropriate amount by hand, apply tape to the new section and finish up that disk. If its warm out and not humid, it will be dry to the touch in about an hour or 2. Remove the tape and plastic bag once the paint has dried, and you’ll be all done. Repeat on each disk as needed.


Here are the finished results:


Good luck!