The Ultimate Brake Rotors Buying Guide
How To Choose The Right Brake Rotor
Choosing The Right Brake Rotor
Types Of Brake Discs
Half of the friction components in the disc brake system are the disc brake rotors. These are usually a round metal surface made of cast iron. They can be found directly behind the rim with calipers that are facing either the front or the rear. You may have come across brake discs that have holes on the surface and the ones without them. They are known as flat discs and vented discs. Let's look closely at these two types.
Solid Disc Brakes
This is a basic form of the disc that is usually flat, solid, and made of iron. Flat discs are cheap and can be found on some older and smaller vehicles. They are also known as non-vented rotors, and you can usually find them on the rear of the vehicles, as rear brakes have less work compared to the front and additional cooling is unnecessary. They are also helpful as they have superb braking power because of the large surface touched by the brake pad. However, because of the prolonged braking period, they get heated, reducing its effectiveness.
Vented Disc Brakes
As the size and weight of the vehicle increase, so does the load on the brakes. This generates more heat which causes problems for brake systems. As the heat levels increase the disc needs some assistance venting away this heat quick enough to any prevent damage.
Vented disc brakes have vents or slots between the rotor and have a gap in between them. This gap allows air to pass through the two rotor surfaces which helps in cooling them through convective heat transfer. Most modern cars, trucks, and larger vehicles have front disc brake rotors that are vented. Some rotors also have curved or directional vents for improved airflow so that heat dissipation is better.
So Which Brake Rotor Should You Prefer?
Vented disc brakes are a clear choice as they provide advantages in terms of both weight and performance. Vented rotors are much lighter than solid brakes since there are vents cut through them. These vents also help in heat dissipation which reduces brake fade considerably. So vented brake discs also linger and provide better airflow and performance as compared to solid type. Although these advantages come at a more premium price as compared to solid rotors which are more affordable and a common choice in this regard.
The Best Brake Rotor Brands
Raybestos Brake Rotors
Raybestos provides a rotor for you, regardless of whether you need dependability in normal driving conditions, protection against the hardest of elements, or a specialized rotor for your niche applications or market.
Key Raybestos Brake Discs Features:
The optimum finish of the surface
The minimum difference in thickness
Minimum side escape
The TS 16949 requirements on quality structures are verified on all Raybestos rotors.
With Raybestos rotors, you can be assured that the right configuration and efficiency is possible for each application
Feel of the pedal
Long pedal life
Defense against rust
Part Numbers: 780736FZN , 680508FZN and more
Grade - Super Premium
Material Used - G3000
Coating - FULL GREY FUSION 4.0™
Ideal for - Cars in rust-prone areas, especially the rust belt and coastal areas
Part Numbers: 780960R, 7024R, 6054R, 6074R, 982356R and more
Grade - Premium
Material Used - G3000
Ideal for - The everyday driving situation
C. Police Brake Rotors
Grade - Specialty
Material Used - Enhanced Iron
Coating - FULL GREY FUSION 4.0™
Ideal for - Pursuit and patrol police fleet
D. Specialty Truck, School Bus & Medium Duty Brake Rotors
Part Numbers: 680344, 8536, 782430, 780139, and more
Grade - Specialty
Material Used - Enhanced Iron
Coating - BLACK FUSION OR FULL GREY FUSION 4.0™
Ideal for - Severe-duty and fleet vehicles
E. Performance Brake Rotors
Part Numbers: 680105PER, 981053PER, 78774PER, and more
Grade - Performance
Material Used - Enhanced Iron
Coating - BLACK FUSION AND/OR GREY FUSION 4.0™
Ideal for - High-performance street vehicles, SUVs, Trucks, and Luxury cars
For more, you can visit our Raybestos Brake Rotor Section or have a look at Raybestos Brake Rotor Catalog.
Worldparts Brake Rotors
For buyers who want to change the look and longevity of their car. Worldparts ® Coated Brake Rotors are resistant to rust and solvents. Field experiments have shown resistance to rain, salt, and snow damage as well.
Part Numbers: WS1-230091, WS1-231227, WS1-734144, and more
For more, you can visit our Worldparts Brake Rotor Section or have a look at Worldparts Coated Brake Rotors Brochure.
Metallurgical materials premium GG20 and GG25 have improved conductivity to survive fade and radial cracking
Built to suit the needs of your car with original equipment requirements
For better brake efficiency and life with adequate cooling and reduced fading
For decreased vibration and extraordinarily smooth and silent braking
Saves time to mount as there is no machining or degreasing
Flakes of zinc and aluminum are used to completely cover the rotor, thereby increasing the ability to secure the rotor and removing bimetal cells from most zinc coatings
Increases oil tolerance and other vehicle liquids such as coolant, bearing grease, and brake fluids
Damaged areas fill the corrosion resistance with the carbonate matrix; this protective matrix slows down corrosion reactions
The protective cover prevents the rotor edges and vanes from corrosion for efficient ventilation and cooling
They are free from nickel, chromium, cadmium, lead, barium, and mercury
They are eco-friendly
Easy to clean using water
Their odor is low
Transit Warehouse Brake Rotors
A. Top Quality- Drums and Rotors
Part Numbers: 8-980141, 8-980294, 8-680404 and more
Greater weight and greater heat dissipation compared to the competition for improved resistance.
More than 1200 available SKUs
Suitably balanced to wear equally
Returns less than 1%
Cast steel made of G3000
Produced with the best technologies in metallurgy
There are more aeration vanes
For more, you can visit our Transit Warehouse Brake Rotor Section.
B. Genius-Smartly Coated Rotors
Part Numbers: gcr-780623, gcr-980470, and more
Smartly coated rotors are the way to make the brake operation quieter and longer. The G-Coat is a water-based chromium-free, environmentally safe coating acting as a corrosion-resistant shield between the disc's surface and the elements. It conserves a rotor's appearance and safeguards its output by unlocked regions and cooling vanes by allowing maximum airflow. The uncoated braking surface often includes a shorter break-in time and a squeak-free breaking experience. The genius line of coated rotors and drums has protection from corrosion in all fields.
All information needed to manufacture Genius brake rotors was carefully measured, checked, and calibrated, to ensure that the braking experience under all situations is the most effective and consistent
Good quality cast iron G3000 and superior cooling vanes are applicable to the highest temperatures
The integration of precision manufacturing and smart coating techniques offers standardized protection from wear and tear for long service lives
Corrosion prevention and no degreasing packaging are required to be mounted before installation. Flawless rotor to the auto shop workbench from the production board
There are more than 800 items
For more, you can visit our Transit Warehouse Brake Rotor Section.
C. DS-One Brake Rotors
For regular sports cars, and for heavy loads towing, DS-One has a stylish profile and the reliability and robustness needed for pickups and minivans. With improved wet weather, extra protection, and long life to ensure a stable stop with each push of the foot pedal, this high-performance brake rotor is designed for more powerful and effective braking systems.
Bidirectional Slots For Increased Braking Performance - Expel hot gases from disc surface friction, disperse heat and reduce the chance of overheating warping. It also ensures optimum contact between the rotor and brake pads as brake dust particles are separated from the friction ground
Precision Drilled For Exceptional Heat Dissipation - Increases air movement so that the spinning disc cools more rapidly and uniformly. The transfer of heat to the other elements of the braking system is less. It also improves the efficiency of rainy weather by allowing water to evacuate through integrated channels. They also extend the existence of the brake pad in normal conditions of driving
G3000 Cast Iron - They are built to reach a tensile ratio of 1.25:1 for improved resistance, toughness, and longevity. It is also generated by the IATF 16949 Quality management System in advanced automotive facilities
Uncoated Braking Surface For a Faster Break-In Period - They ensure smoother breaking out of the box. The friction on the uncovered brake surface stops rust from accumulating
Black E-Coating For A Pristine Look & Anti-Corrosion Protection - Corrosion safety on all non-frozen structures. Unlike spray-painted coverings, they resist losses from a solvent-based brake cleaner
One Of A Kind Bidirectional Design For Installation On Either Side Of The Vehicle - Purchase can be made quickly! This two-way rotor can be mounted on either side of the engine. You will not need any special equipment or adjustment
Optimal Vane Configuration For Superior Cooling Performance - For optimum performance, the vane design fits the original OEM equipment
Brake Cleaner For Professional Strength Degreaser - Strong and persistent pressure can be fulfilled in the whole field. They have a non-chlorinated formula
RS Parts Disc Brake Rotors
A. Standard Disc Brake Rotor
Part Numbers: RS980402, RS780459, and more
OE configuration for optimal vibration prevention. And hence they are shimmed, slotted, or chambered
All applicable wear sensors are included
Has applicable hardware for installation
For performance and wear, they are dynamometer-tested
Meets the copper reduction law specifications
Free of Asbestos
Crafted in factories accredited to ISO 9001 / TTS16949
For more, you can visit our RS Parts Brake Rotor Section or have a look at RS Parts Standard Brake Rotors Brochure.
B. Black Hat Rotor
Part Numbers: RS780459B, RS980402B, and more
The black hat and rim have been painted for a better appearance over normal rotors
Computerized machining with strict levels of efficiency
Built from premium materials to constant fading resistance and efficiency
Premium G3000 Metallurgy to ensure resistance and longevity
Quality construction and development in compliance with OE requirements
Non-directional finish – Proven technologies to minimize noise and squeal
For more, you can visit our RS Parts Brake Rotor Section or have a look at RS Parts Black Hat Rotors Brochure.
Know Your Performance Options
Blank or Smooth Brake Rotors
Most of the vehicles that come straight out of the factory have blank (also known as the smooth) brake discs. This rotor provides a full-face friction surface for the brake pads to clamp down. This generates friction to slow down your vehicle. Most buyers chose smooth rotors as they are affordable, inexpensive to manufacture, and offer durable braking performance under normal conditions for thousands of miles.
- They are cost-effective.
- As there are no drill holes or cracks, there is less room for cracks to develop.
- Suggested for vehicles that don’t use extreme or harsh driving.
- As there are no drill holes or slots, heat doesn't pass through quickly which makes the brake pads wear out faster.
These rotors have drilled holes on the surface of the rotor so that the generated heat dissipates quickly. This provides a long braking performance for the vehicle and reduces the brake fade during heavy braking. Also, the holes help the water escape quickly during wet weather before it affects the initial braking. If you are a car enthusiast looking for a rotor upgrade that performs great in all-weather, then the cross-drilled rotors are the best choice.
- Best suited, if you're living in hilly areas, as water escapes quickly.
- Less water means improved brake performance.
- Helps in cooling the rotors.
- If the rotors are aged, the drilled patterns may wear out affecting the aesthetics of the vehicle.
- Poor choice if used in a racing vehicle as they wear out quickly and develop cracks
- They fail sooner because of repeated heat and cool cycles.
You can find thin slots or lines on the surface of the slotted rotors. Similar to the cross-drilled rotors, slots are an effective measure to improve cooling and remove water quickly. One of the major advantages of the slotted rotors over the cross-drilled is that mud, dirt, dust, debris don’t get clogged on the rotor surface which makes them best suited for trucks and off-road vehicles. Also, the gases formed because of excessive heat can escape through the slots minimizing the brake fade.
- Delivers improved consistency with every stop and reduces the friction in the brake pads.
- They work well for heavy trucks, SUVs, off-road vehicles, tow trucks.
- As they shave down the glaze from overheated brake pads, they offer effective braking.
- The outer edges can crack if they are not machined properly.
- They don’t withstand for a longer time when compared to other rotors and can also shorten the lifespan of brake pads.
- Unpleasant noise when coming to a stop from a high speed.
Drilled and Slotted Rotors
Just as the name suggests, these rotors have the advantages of both the drilled and slotted brake rotors. Drilled and slotted brake rotors are best suited for any car enthusiasts, street performers, or any drivers who are looking for the ultimate driving performance for their vehicle. Some of their features are - quick response in wet and dry conditions, heat dissipates quickly, reduced brake fade, and longer life span. They are an expensive option available in the market.
- Best suited if you are living in wet climates where there is frequent rain.
- The best option for carrying heavy loads.
- As heavy vehicles need more energy to come to a stop, these rotors are the best in delivering them
- These rotors are not recommended for racing, as the drilling may cause them to crack.
- They cannot be resurfaced. If something happens to your drilled and slotted rotors for some reason, then a full replacement is necessary.
Slotted Disc Brake Vs Drilled Disc Brake Vs Blank/Smooth Disc Brake
If you are still confused as to which type of performance rotor should you select for your vehicle - Here is a simple comparison between blank/ smooth, slotted, and drilled disc rotors if you are looking for better performance levels.
- Grip: Slotted and drilled rotors have a better grip when compared to smooth rotors, and you can notice this in the initial phase as you press the brake pedal.
- Fading resistance: As the heat and gas can dissipate quickly, slotted and drilled disc rotors have better fading resistance. These types of rotors are specially used in race vehicles.
- Brake wear: Blank and smooth rotors have less friction on the surface of the brake pads and so they will not wear quickly. With the other two options, the brake wear will be more.
- Crack resistance: Blank/smooth rotors will not crack easily as the surface is smooth and solid. This is one of the biggest advantages when compared to the other two options. When used under extreme situations, drilled rotors will eventually crack.
- Cooling: Drilled rotors dissipate the heat and gases quickly which cools them by lowering the temperature of the brakes when compared to blank/smooth and slotted rotors.
- Wet conditions: Drilled and slotted rotors allow water to escape quickly because of the presence of slots and drillings. Hence they are best suited for wet conditions when compared to blank/smooth rotors.
You can always choose the drilled and slotted rotors for best performance, as it has the advantages of both the drilled as well as slotted disc rotors with minimal side effects. The slots can help you eliminate the gas and dust and the drilled holes help in cooling the heat that is generated because of heavy braking.
Are You Choosing The Right Disc Brakes Material?
Choosing the right material for your vehicle’s braking system is highly essential as they have to function properly. You will start facing issues if your disc rotors are under-performing. Disc brake rotors are made of different materials and their performance is not the same. Look below to make the right choice.
Cast Iron Brake Rotors
Cast iron is the most frequently used material for the production of brake rotors. They’re available as either one or two-piece parts and can work in most types of vehicles. (High-performing vehicles will need a two-piece cast iron rotor). But the heavy material increases the total weight of the vehicle. This added weight falls straight onto the front wheels, making it a little difficult to manage.
Steel Brake Rotors
Layered Steel Brake Rotors
In this process, sheets of steel are placed one upon the other and laminated together. They are durable and provide resistance to warping. And, hence they have become the recent favorites among the racers. The main advantage of layered steel rotors is that you don’t have to repair or replace them frequently. As this rotor is not popular among general people, their production is limited.
Aluminum Brake Rotors
Though aluminum brake rotors dissipate heat quickly, they have a lower melting point which means they can potentially melt at lower temperatures and can not be used in high-performance vehicles. Hence they are used only in motorcycles, as they take less pressure when compared to the rotors in the car, trucks, or SUV.
High Carbon Brake Rotors
These rotors dissipate heat quickly and they do not crack under pressure. They are also lighter meaning you will shed at least 10 pounds of rotating weight, thereby increasing the braking performance. They make less noise and vibration and hence they are best suited for high-performance-oriented applications like drag cars. The only downside to this rotor is the high-price.
Ceramic Brake Rotors
Benefits Of Upgrading To New Rotors
The potential reason why you must upgrade your brake rotors is improved performance and better vehicle safety. Upgrading brake rotors will help you in the following ways:
Better Braking Performance - If the disc brake rotor on your vehicle is worn out, then they can affect the braking performance. Your vehicle will take a longer time than usual to come to a stop. Upgrading your vehicle with top-rated disc-brakes will shorten the braking distance minimizing brake fade.
Smooth Braking - Disc brakes will make your brake pedal feel less spongy and responsive every time you step on it. You may also feel that the vibration is less, as you apply the brakes.
Better Performance In Wet Weather - If you upgrade your vehicle with premium disc brake rotors such as cross-drilled, drilled or drilled and slotted rotors, they will enhance the braking performance in wet climates as water escapes quickly through the slots or drilling.
Longer Lifespan - The brake pads along with the disc brake rotors can enhance the braking performance and withstand for a longer lifespan if they are upgraded together at the same time. You are also sure to get maximum mileage out of them.
How Do You Know It'’s Time To Change The Worn-Out Disc Brake Rotors?
Though the disc brake rotors are designed to withstand for a longer time, they wear out eventually. If your disc brake rotors are worn out, they will show you a few signs, which means you will have to look out for a replacement before they damage other parts and result in expensive repairs. Some of these signs are:
A. Squealing Noise While Applying Brakes The very first symptom of a failing disc brake is the squealing noise as you apply the brakes. There can be several reasons such as the improper installation of the brake pads, warped disc brakes, damaged rotors, or worn-out brake pads. Brake pads will wear faster than they normally would if the disc brakes are warped.
B. Vibrations Your disc brake needs a check if there are heavy vibrations as you apply the brake. This vibration can also arise if the rotor is damaged or warped. The damage can be as small as a score mark on the rotor’s surface to something big like bad grooves because of a repetitive contact between a thinning rotor and brake pads.
C. Longer Time To Stop You notice that the brakes are failing if they are taking a long time to stop. They can be dangerous as you cannot stop your vehicle in case of an emergency or during normal situations. Get them checked with a professional mechanic. Complications with the brake lines, damaged brake calipers, leaky brake fluids can also be the underlying reasons for longer stopping distances.
D. Warning Light
Some cars have a warning light on the dashboard to let you know when your brakes need attention. Most sensors have the same lifespan as the brake pad, so they need to be replaced along with the brake pads. Before you rely on this method, it’s best to check your owners’ manual as not all cars are fitted with brake pad sensors.
E. Car Pulling To One Side
If your car feels like it is pulling to one side or the other while you’re driving, it could be a sign of worn-out brake pads or that the caliper guide pins or piston are sticking.
Essential Brake Rotors Buying Tips
Trusted Name - The brakes are an important component of your vehicle. So do not seek a big bargain on any of the brake parts.
Choose Carbon-Ceramic Composite - This material is usually costly and if you can afford them, then just go for it. If a component has a higher carbon content, then it has a longer lifespan and offers better braking performance.
Close Attention To Warranties - Pay close attention to warranties for disc brake rotors, as they are limited and specific. Replacements are available only if there are any defects. Only a few high-performance brake companies provide lifetime warranty where the parts will be costly. So you will have to decide and balance between price and warranty.
Cost Of Brake Rotors
Though you can find brake rotors between $30-$75, some of the best replacement brake rotors are more than $90 per rotor. Buyers will find all sorts of high-performance and affordable brake rotors and full kits that contain everything they need to repair old rotors. While many cost-effective rotors are well designed and reliable, there is no lack of badly produced rotors, so be sure to consider the quality of brake rotors before purchasing inexpensive rotors.