Easily Remove Orange Rust From Rotors

1999 Grey Ferrari 550 Maranello with Rust on Brake Rotor

Ever noticed that nasty looking orange dust that takes over your rotors after a while of no driving, periods of humidity, or a rain storm? Your brakes are fine, but they’re rusting. In basic speak, rust is a form of corrosion (read more). Over time this rust can begin to etch and cause pitting in your rotors – not fun. Problem is you can’t really clean off the rotors with a cleaning product unless you take the wheels off, and even at that point you’d have to be awfully careful not to create problems for your brakes. Luckily there’s a free, easy, five minute way to remove rust from your rotors…

Removing the rust is extremely simple: hit the brakes a few times at a low speed (5-10mph). I recommend doing so in a parking lot or while no cars are present on a quiet street, as this could lead to you getting rear-ended if you’re not paying attention.¬†Also, consider that when you brake while driving you’re typically pressing gently on the brakes as you make your way to an intersection; this doesn’t provide enough force for the calipers to grip and remove the rust. You’ll want to add a little more pressure to the brake pedal for this little trick to work properly.

1999 Grey Ferrari 550 Maranello with Rust on Brake Rotor

It won’t do any damage, won’t harm your car, and won’t get you hurt unless you mistakenly crash into something (legally I guess I should say that if you’re not comfortable hitting your brakes for some reason, don’t do this).While people in humid or wet regions of the world will see more rust than others, it’s no stranger to anyone’s rotors. Take a look on the street, you’ll see dozens of cars with filthy rotors and it really is an eye sore. You might be surprised how much dirty rotors take away from the appearance of your car, but once you remove the rust you’ll see what I mean. Give it a try and let us know how it goes. Better yet, get us some before and after pictures and we’ll feature them on facebook!

  • cam

    My Granddaughters VW has not been driven for 3 years and the rotors are rusty, a friend told her not to worry just drive the car and the rust will go away, Grandpa says its dangerous to drive this way, her commute is 28 freeway miles each day. Your opinion please.

    • This is a very common question. As stated in the article, an easy way to remove the rust is to hit the brakes hard (in a safe environment such as a parking lot). The majority of cars on the road have rusted rotors, mostly because of moisture.

      If you are worried about the condition of the rotors, take the car to your local mechanic and get them measured. It might be time for new ones, or it just might be time for the above suggestion.

  • Oliver St.John-Mollusc

    “USE anti-rust oil!” – can you believe an idiot did that?

  • Flipside

    I don’t drive much, especially in inclement weather, but when I did, I heard the brakes squeal. Last time it was pretty loud. At first I thought it must be the ceramic pads I had installed last May, but you’re saying it’s rotors. I own my bug a couple of years, the rotors were replaced about 2 yrs ago and this is happening only now. You still think it’s rotors? Is there a way to prevent this in the future?

    • There are many reasons a brake could squeal. My guess is the new ceramic pads don’t match up with the rotors. Because they wear into rotors, when you get new brake pads they won’t exactly match the wear of your old brake pads. This leads to them rubbing the rotor, hence the squealing noises. I would advise getting new rotors and then making sure you brake them in immediately by applying the brake at moderate speed 10-20 times.