Driving is pretty dangerous sometimes. Accidents could happen even if you are a careful driver as there are drivers who drive carelessly. This is the reason why you need a good brake system on your car, to ensure that you stand a slim chance of getting involved in accidents. However nothing lasts forever and your brake system is no exception. Over the years, it wears out and needs replacing. Many of you may think that what we are trying to say is replacing the brake pads. Yes, brake pads are extremely important for your safety when driving, but in this article we will present to you another part of the brake system which is not less critical than brake pads: brake rotors. These are the heaviest and largest pieces on each axle of the brake system and once they wear out, they do not give a clear sign. By having said that, we will walk you through some need-to-know information about replacing brake rotors and recommend some of the best of these circle-shaped things to you in this comprehensive guide.
How do brake rotors work?
When you want to stop your car or slow down, you just simply need to stamp on the brake pedal. That’s easy. But the process behind it requires a harmonious cooperation of the entire brake system. When you hit the brake pedal, the brake fluid will be forced to come out of the reservoir by a plunger in the master cylinder. After that it flows to the wheels through the rigid lines and gets carried into calipers by flexible lines. In calipers the pressure of the fluid pushes out brake pistons and these pistons press on the back plate of brake pads, which causes brake pads and brake rotors to rub each other. These rotors will be squeezed and as a result your car is slowed down. And a great amount of heat is produced due to the friction of two metal pieces. That’s the reason why these two metal pieces are made of cast iron and cast steel, which are resistant to wear and high temperature. In conclusion, you can see that it’s the brake rotors that help your car decelerate (of course with the help of other components of the brake system).
What causes your car’s brake rotors to wear out?
Why do we mention this part in the article? The answer is we think that if you know what factors affect the lifespan of your brake rotors, you can find a way to expand it. According to experts at cars, there are 6 main elements that pay tribute to the wearing process:
+ Quality standards: as mentioned above, your car’s brake rotors suffer from friction and really high temperature so the quality of the materials of which they are made plays a key role in maintaining their good performances.
+ Physical characteristics: how they are designed (drilled or not drilled, vented or not vented etc.) also affect the amount of heat they can endure.
+ Quality of brake pads: as they directly collide with brake pads, their longevity depends on their partner too. If your car’s pads are made of hard and poor quality materials, your car’s rotors are damaged when the slowing down process is activated.
+ Driving style and environment: if you usually use the function of the brake system or you usually drive on rocky or mountainous paths, you will put rotors in a quicker wearing process.
+ Car weight: the heavier your car is, the quicker your rotors wear out as they will have to work harder to create a stronger force to slow down or stop your car.
+ Axle position: the front axle usually bears more weight than the rear one so you can infer that the rotors installed in the front axle will need replacing in a shorter amount of time than those in the rear axle.
You almost can do nothing with the sixth factor to help your rotors expand their lifespan as that is how they are made. However you can do something with the rest factors to ensure a long lasting performance of your car’s brake rotors.
When should you replace your rotors?
Although the wearing process is inevitable and it could happen at any time, you can know when your car rotors need a replacement if you notice these following signs:
+ Your car’s brake rotors are too thin: you can know when is the perfect time to replace your rotors if you usually check their thickness. You can find your car’s rotors behind the hub cap. And to check whether they have reached their limit or not, you can look for the number showing the minimum thickness on their surface or check it on the vehicle’s service book and then measure their thickness. If their measures are under the minimum ones, you should replace them to ensure your safe driving.
+ You feel a light vibration in the steering wheel and/or the brake pedal when you hit the brake: this is the result of deposits on your pad when your brake system is overheated or underheated. So when you experience this event, it’s a high likelihood that your rotors need replacing.
+ Your brakes give out very loud noises when you hit them: this is the result of a low thickness happening to your brake pads. When your car’s brake pads are considerably thinned out, they will give out loud noises to warn you that there is something wrong with the brake system and you need to give it a check. Although this is all about your car’s pads, it’s highly recommended by mechanics that you should check your car’s rotors too.
+ There are cracks on the outer or inner edge of your car’s brake rotor: this is a serious sign showing that you need to replace your rotors at once as they have reached their limit. Delaying on replacing them may put you in dangerous situations.
+ The working surface has been damaged or grooved: this is obvious as you can see those grooves with your eyes. If you see grooves and damages on the working surface of your rotor, you should plan to replace it as soon as possible.
+ The rotor has been warped: when you see this kind of distortion, don’t hesitate to replace the rotor as this is an extremely rare occurrence.
What are the best replacement brake rotors?
As mentioned above, the quality of brake rotors can greatly influence their lifecycle. That’s why choosing rotors of high-grade quality can help them to perform well in a long period of time and you can save quite an amount of money. We have consulted some experts and here are replacement rotors you can trust.
Bosch Quiet Cast Premium Disc Brake Rotor
These discs are definitely worth your money. This product from prestigious Bosch has received tons of positive reviews from customers. Not only are these discs precisely balanced, but they are also exclusively designed in the shape of a vane. Therefore, when you install this Bosch product into your car, you can experience the smooth operation with no pedal pulsation and the efficient heat dissipation at the same time. In addition, you will not be bothered by the loud noise when hitting the brake. The only drawback of this Bosch product is that not all types of cars can be equipped with.
Upgrade King: Power Stop Drilled/Slotted Rotors and Ceramic Brake Pads
These brake rotors are impossible to ignore for car owners who love luxurious and stylish looks. They are festooned with drilled holes and spots, which ignites the viewers’ imagination about something extremely strong and aggressive. Not only that, they are covered with zinc which helps to prevent the rust process and maintains their good performance for a long period of time. One more strong point of these rotors is that they are packed with carbon fiber brake pads so you can purchase pads of excellent quality at the same time. If you worry about the price, you don’t have to as the whole set is sold at an affordable price.
Cheap Trick: ACDelco Advantage Non-coated Disc Brake Rotors
These are the cheapest rotors among those we recommend in this article. However, the quality is not poor at all. These round silver discs are designed with a vane configuration which keeps the rotor cool while being kicked off. Not only that, they are sold at many shops so you can easily find them.
EBC Brakes GD1697 3GD Series Dimpled and Slotted Sport Rotors
These EBC discs are quite expensive but believe us when we say that they are worth every penny. These platters are designed with wide slots so they can stay much cooler than normal discs. You don’t have to worry that your brake system is damaged when you hit the pedal at a high speed for a long period of time. Not only that, the brand new look can last longer thanks to their high-quality chemical composition. But that’s not all about these rotors. Truck and SUVs drivers can experience a great brake system too as the EBC product is available for trucks and SUVs.
Wilwood Brake Kit with Drilled Rotors
If you are looking for the best brake rotors, you can’t miss out on these Wilwood ones. Wilwood has been well known for making top-notch products with an appropriate price so you can stay insured when purchasing their products. Rotors from this famous brand provide customers with corrosion resistance and thermal retardant qualities so the long lasting performance is unquestionable. Not only that with the killer look, they can turn many heads when you drive your car out on the street.
R1 eLine Plain Brake Rotors
These rotors are not plain as they are called. In fact they are made of supreme quality materials. These discs are made of G300-grade iron, which is really hard and strong so you can set your mind at rest that they are really sustainable and greatly powerful. Then why do they have the word “Plain” in their name? It’s because the price at which they are sold is very affordable. You can even find these wonderful discs in an array of applications. The only thing that could be annoying to some users is that their spots are designed in a lightly bad way.
Raybestos Professional Grade Disc Brake Rotors
These rotors from Raybestos are incredibly highly rated by customers and mechanics. These hat-shaped silver discs are used by a large number of car owners whose cars are imported or domestic cars, SUVs and even light trucks. So you can see that this product from Raybestos is very universal and trustworthy. Moreover, these discs are incredibly convenient and time-saving as they are designed with non-directional ground finish so you can easily install them into your car right after you unpack their cover box. However, they can be exposed to rust so it’s advisable that you pour some high-temp paint on their surface and the pub portion to ensure their good performance.
Wagner Premium E-coated Brake Rotors
The last brake rotors that we would like to recommend are Wagner Premium E-coated ones. These discs are exclusively researched and designed by the Wagner’s engineers so you may find them quite appealing if they love something unique. These rotors are coated with anti-corrosion material so great performance is ensured for quite a long time. Not only that, with the vane-shaped design, they can effectively slow down your car without heating up themselves. In addition, when applying these discs to your car, you can experience a smooth running without much noise, vibration and harshness. The thickness variation and lateral run-out are also reduced thanks to the tight tolerance feature.
That’s all we want to present in this article. We hope that you find these pieces of information are interesting and useful. And we also hope that you can find your discs that meet all your requirements. One last thing we would like to say is that you should check your brake rotors usually as most of the signs showing that they need replacing are visible and easily seen. It’s not just for maintaining your car’s good performance but above all it’s for your safety when driving.
Is it difficult to install brake rotors?
It depends on your skill. In fact, the most challenging step is not installing brake rotors into your car as it’s just like replacing a new tire. The most difficult step when replacing rotors is passing through some delicate components to get to the rotors. If you are confident with your mechanic skill, it’s not a big deal but if you are not, you should take your car to mechanics.
Do you need special tools to install brake rotors?
Actually, you’ll need special tools to deal with the calipers when replacing new rotors but if you are only asking for special tools used to install rotors then you don’t need any of them.
How much does it cost to install new brake rotors?
On average, it may cost you from $180 to $275 per axle including $30 to $75 for rotor cost and $150 to $200 for labor cost. If you wish to replace your old rotors with new high-grade ones, the cost will go up a little bit.