Rust and Runout

Rust and Runout

One possible cause for high speed pulsation is happens when rust builds up. This article will go over how rust causes this problem and the necessary steps to resolving the problem.


The problem occurs when one or more of the rotors installed have excessive runout. Generic specification being used by domestic OEMs is .002". Excessive runout causes disc thickness variation (DTV) over time. The average for most vehicles is 3,000 to 6,000 miles. This number can vary up or down based on the variables involved.

Rust buildup in jacking

Rust on hub's mating surface is a leading cause of runout. The rust can from to a point where it actually pushes the rotor away from the hub even with the wheel bolted on (See image above). This process has been termed "jacking". It works much the same way as a tree root under a side walk. There are tremendous forces involved as the rust "grows" between the rotor and hub.


Cleaning of the rotor and hub's mating surfaces is a critical part of the brake job. The hub to rotor mating surface must be free of rust or runout induced DTV can occur shortly after the brake job. As little as .001" of rust at the outside edge of the hub will result in .002" to .004" of runout.

The method used to clean the hub depends on the severity of the rust buildup. The hub's mating surface can be a difficult surface to clean due to the wheel studs. The area between the wheel stud and hub centering flange is the most difficult area to gain access to. Here are the best methods to clean the hub's mating surface.

Method 1 - Mild Rust Build Up

1. Use an angle grinder equipped with a Scotch Brite disc to clean the majority of the surface area. Get as close to the studs as possible and change the disc when needed.

2. Finish the process by using the tool shown in the first image below to clean the area around the studs. This tool fits over the wheel stud to allow easy cleaning of the hard to reach area of the hub. The second image shown the finished result.

OTC Tool

Method 2 - Severe Rust Buildup

The hub shown in the first image below will not be able to be cleaned effectively using the steps outlined above. The end result would look something like the second image below. The OTC tool does NOT work on mild to heavy rust. It has a tendency to polish the rust instead of removing it. The most effective method is to use the following steps.

Rust Hub
Polished Rust

1. Abrasive blasting is the most effective method for rust removal. There is a specialized blast cabinet available that allows cleaning of the hub while it is still on the vehicle. The tool uses a drawstring boot to allow the unit to be used on the vehicle as shown in the image below.

Rust Buster

2. The following image show what the final product should look like. This is the same hub as shown above. This hub will not be the source of rust induced runout. While there are other methods that can be used to clean rusty hubs the method described above the most effective. Other methods can be time consuming, yield a lower quality job and may not result in all of the rust being removed.

Finished Product

More Help

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