Brake Lathes:The Difference Between a Heavy Duty Lathe and a "Regular" Lathe

Autos & TrucksMaintenance

  • Author Nick C
  • Published November 16, 2007
  • Word count 406

It seems as if there is always some kind of catch or limitation when it comes to the equipment available to mechanics. Their car lift, for example, may only be able to lift 7,000lbs, restricting which vehicles can be loaded on it. The welding machine may only be able to operate on certain types of metals, restricting how it can be used and necessitating the purchase of additional equipment. The brake lathe, of course, is no exception to this rule.

There are numerous differences between a light-duty brake lathe and a heavy-duty brake lathe. In Texas, it is actually more common to see heavy-duty brake lathes as there are more large vehicles, SUV's, and trucks in Texas than there are in other parts of the country.

Aside from the price tag, what are the major differences between a heavy duty brake lathe and a light duty brake lathe?

  • Capability - Many light-duty brake lathes are quite limited in what they can actually work on. Where a heavy duty lathe may not have had a problem working on both rotors and drums, a light-duty model may only be able to work on one or the other. In today's market, that is not very practical.

While it may seem wise to save a bit of money and purchase a rotor-only brake lathe it would be limiting the work that you could handle. Many new cars, from trucks to economy cars, still use drum brakes on the rear of the vehicle.

  • Bigger is better - A heavier duty brake lathe will be able to take larger components that weight more, whereas a light duty brake lathe will not be able to take larger components. It could even be argued that heavy duty brake provide more value simply because they can handle and accomplish more than a light duty model.

  • Reliability - Heavy-duty equipment isn't exactly known for its reliability. In the case of the brake lathe, heavy duty equipment tends to point towards a longer life and increased capability. It is less affected by weight, bumps, vibrations, etc. simply because it has been engineered to better handle increased stresses.

  • Speed - A heavy duty brake lathe is usually capable of completing its work faster than light duty lathes. This is because the motor has more horsepower and the components themselves are ruggedly designed. In the end, it´s wise to have these aspects in mind when deciding to purchase.

Nick C recommends Equiptool which provides a wide range of accessories for your car, truck or motorcycle. We specialize in Car Lifts, Tire Changers, Brake Lathes and Wheel Balancers. Visit our online store at and check all our stuff.

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