Understand Your Car's Air Brake Rotors Better

One of the most essential maintenance tasks drivers face is brake servicing. Your car brakes are directly associated with your level of safety in your automobile, and should be checked or serviced regularly. Although they generally need less frequent servicing, brake rotors can wear out just like any other part of the brake assembly. The quality and condition of your automobile’s brake rotors is essential for your own safety, and that’s why it should be taken care of. Keep on reading further to know everything about car brake rotors.

What Are Car Brake Rotors?

The brake assembly of your car involves many other different components, all of which serve many essential functions. One such part is the brake rotors. Talking about the looks, the brake rotors look like large metal plates which are attached to the wheel. The primary function of the car brake rotors is to act as a grip for the brake pads to latch onto when the pressure is applied by the calipers as the brake pedal is pushed down. It ultimately shows the rotation of the wheel, and it brings the automobile to a stop. In normal brake servicing, brake pads need to be restored far more times than rotors or calipers; however, if brake pads or other brake assembly parts become exhausted and remain that way for an extended period, the rotors can become defective and need servicing or even replacement.

What Type Of Brake Rotor Is Ideal For My Car?

Do you want to replace your car rotors? If yes, then keep in mind that not all rotors are same. In fact, there are four different types of rotors to choose from, so before you restore your car’s rotors, make sure that you are selecting the correct one for your needs. The four different rotor types are:

  1. Cast Iron
  2. Steel
  3. Layered Steel
  4. Aluminium
  5. High Carbon
  6. Ceramic

If you are willing to know more about the type of brake rotor material which is perfect for your car, then you should visit our “Are You Choosing The Right Kind Of Disc Brake Rotor Material?” section. 

How To Choose The Right Brake Rotor?

What Are The Common Brake Rotor Problems?

Want to know the kinds of brake rotor problems which are faced by a lot of mechanics? If yes, then keep reading. Have a look at three common brake rotor issues.

  1. Corrosion - Brake rotors are made of cast iron and other similarly strong yet corrosion-prone metals by a lot of manufacturers. Most of the car owners become anxious when they come to know that their rotors contain a coating of rust after a casual inspection.
  2. Warping - Warping can be something misnaming when we are concerned about the brake rotors. Sufficient thickness and toughness are possessed by the rotor to save its metal from deforming. Now when a mechanic would discuss warping, then they would surely refer to rotor surfaces which are no longer perfectly flat.
  3. Galling - The rotors, which are of inferior quality, they often suffer from one more issue which is called galling, ribbing, or scoring. Galling is a form a wear which is caused by adhesion between sliding surfaces.

How Can I Protect My Car Brake Rotors From Failing?

The best way to keep your rotors in excellent, functioning condition is to be consistent and follow routine brake care practices. Have a look at a few other things which you can do to keep your rotors in excellent condition moving forward:

  • You should find alternate routes which do not involve stop-and-go traffic
  • Change your driving habits
  • Your car should be kept as light as possible
  • You should attend ongoing, routine maintenance tasks
  • A specialized service should be hired for your car

What Are The Symptoms Of My Bad Brake Rotors?

If there would be some issues with the car brake rotors, then they would generally produce the following symptoms, which would alert the driver that they require attention. They are mentioned below:

  1. Noisy Brakes - First symptom which is related to the faulty brake rotors is noise. If the rotors would not be perfectly flat or are severely worn, then they might start producing squealing or squeaking sounds.
  2. Vibrations from the Brakes - One other symptom of defective brake rotor is a lot of vibration or pulsation which might start coming from the car brakes and rotors.
  3. Grooves or Score Marks on the Rotor - There might be visual scoring or grooves on the face of the rotor if there are some flaws in the car brake rotors. If there is a repeated contact, then the brake pads can produce these marks with the passage of time.
  4. Increased Stopping Distances - If there is scoring and grooves in a rotor, then it can impede its capacity to slow down the automobile and can also cause vibration and pulsation which can be felt in the pedal.

How Long Will My Car Brake Rotors Typically Last?

Brake rotors can last for an extensive time interval, which highly depends on the driver’s distinctive habits and situations, the age of the automobile, the condition of the other brake assembly parts, and the quality of parts which are utilized in previous replacements. However, on average, the brake rotors last anywhere between 30,000 to 50,000 miles. It is essential to refer to your owner’s manual and an automotive specialist should be consulted for optimal car rotor and brake pads care.

When Can I Check My Brake Rotors?

The amount of stress which is given under car brake and rotor replacement is not an uncommon repair. Still, rotors can hold up for tens of thousands of miles before they need to be swapped out. With passing time, the metal material coating the disc simply would wear away because of friction, which is the most common reason for the replacement of the brake rotor. Sometimes there might be some problems with the rotor warping, which is the term used when it’s no longer perfectly circular and flat. It would lead to uneven contact with the brake pad and it would translate into vibration and decreased stopping power.

When Do I Need To Replace My Brake Rotors?

Heat is produced where there is friction. With passing time, heat in combination with driving style (performance vs street driving) and climate can affect the integrity of your rotors. While your everyday driving rarely calls for specialty rotors, the continual force and heat with off-road or track driving does.

To minimize these negative effects of high performance driving, rotors are many times ‘drilled’ or ‘slotted’. Slotted rotors have small trenches which are grooved into the surface, acting as gutters for water and heat.

These benefits of performance rotor types have their own setbacks, the biggest being durability. Just because the material has been removed from the surface, the edges could wear away brake pads faster and become more prone to cracks.

What Are My Car Brake Rotors Made Of?

The extensive majority of brake rotors are cast iron. They can also be made from a handful of other materials: steel (better cooling, prone to warping), layered steel (warp-resistant, more expensive), and aluminium (lighter, melt easier), high-carbon (high-performance, expensive) and ceramic (top-end performance cars, such as, Ferrari). The performance of these other materials greatly exceeds the demands of normal driving situations, and in nearly all cases do not explain the added expense. Coatings enhance rotor cosmetics, adding colour to non-braking surfaces and also protect it against rust, but keep in mind that braking performance is not enhanced by coatings.

Which Tools Do I Need To Repair My Car Brake Rotors?

Are you thinking of repairing your car brake and rotors on your own? Then there is one thing which you must have, that is the right tools needed for repairing your Brake Rotors. It is essential to make sure that you are outfitted with the right tools to get the work done properly. Have a look at some tools which you might need to get started with your car brakes and rotors repair work: -

Tools needed for repairing car brake rotors:

  • Ratchet and Socket Kit
  • Torque Wrench
  • Brake Pad Spreader or C-Clamp
  • Torx / Allen Set
  • Brake Bleeder Wrench
  • Jack and Jack stands
  • Lug Nut Wrench
  • Gloves
  • Dust Mask and Safety Glasses

Which Top Brand Brake Rotors Should I Choose?

When it comes to vehicle owner’s choice, the brands really matter a lot. You might pay a premium for a specific car part brand, over time, as it has created a perception of quality, stability and trust. There are some leading car parts brands which are more than just products or services as they give rise to memories and emotions related with the quality. So have a look at some top brands for Brake Rotors.

To know more about top brand brake rotors, visit our “Best Brake Rotors Brands Buying Guide section. You can also visit our “Brake Rotors” page. 

Which Parts Are Related To My Brake Rotors?

The brighter you are, the more you have to learn! That’s why we are here to provide you more knowledge about the related parts of the car Brake Rotors. They are mentioned below as follows: -

  • Front Brake Rotor Shim
  • Rear Brake Rotor Shim
  • Front Rotor Upgrade Kits
  • Rear Rotor Upgrade Kits

What Are The Steps Of Changing My Car Brake Rotors?

Want to know the steps to install new brake rotors? Have a look at them below:

Step 1 - First of all, you must clean off the oil and other protective coatings from the rotor. Then a special brake cleaner solvent should be used as well as a clean cloth to wipe off the residue from the new rotor.

Step 2 - After that, the replacement rotor should be placed over the wheel studs. Then the new rotor should be put over the wheel hub. The wheel studs should be thread through the corresponding holes on the rotor. The rotor should be pushed back into its place around the wheel hub.

Step 3 - Then the next step would be to restore the castle nut and/or cotter pin on the hub assembly. If the previous cotter pin has been bent while removing, then you must restore it with a new one.

Step 4 - Carefully restore the caliper mounting brackets if they have been removed. Now if your automobile’s caliper mounting brackets have been disassembled, then they should be replaced. The brackets should then be re-aligned and then carefully secure them in place with the bolts which were previously unscrewed.

Step 5 - If you want to compress some caliper pistons, then you can always use a C-Clamp or caliper compressor. After that the caliper with pads and spring clips should be put back in its proper spot over the rotor. The caliper should be unhooked or untied from its out-of-the-way location and then the caliper pistons should be compressed with a C-Clamp or a specialized tool which is known as a caliper compressor. Now when the pistons would be fully compressed, then the caliper would be able to fit over the rotor.

Step 6 - After that the next step would be to carefully re-install the caliper. Then the bolt holes should be lined up and then carefully reinstall the bolts which were removed when the caliper was taken off the rotor.

Step 7 - Then the automobile’s wheels should be reinstalled. Then the wheel should be lifted back to its real place over the lug bolts. The lug nuts should be screwed back on over the wheel bolts. Then carefully lower the car to the ground.

If you are still confused about which type of car brake discs you should buy, then you can visit our The Ultimate Brake Rotor Buying Guide. You should always look for the essential brake rotors buying tips. With us, you can find brake rotor at the most economical costs.


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John Framigllia
Technical Writer
Our technical writer is known for simplifying automotive parts and services. Intuitive with various vehicles and manufacturers, he knows how to simplify complicated problems.