Regular maintenance is one of the most important things that every car owner must do. This ensures achieving the peak performance of the vehicle and your safety. It includes checking the condition of the tires, changing engine oil, and inspecting your brake rotors. In the rest of this post, we will focus on the latter.
If you are wondering how long do brake rotors last, this guide has the answer. I will enlighten you on everything that you have to know about brake rotors. From why it is an important part of your car to knowing when the right time to have it is replaced, all your questions will be answered below.
Why is Brake Rotor Important for your Car?
In layman’s terms, the importance of a brake rotor lies on the fact that it makes your driving experience safer. Also known as disk brakes, they stop the spinning of the wheel once pressure is applied to the brake pads, making the car stop.
From a technical perspective, on the other hand, brake rotors are important because it converts your car’s kinetic energy to heat energy. After absorbing the kinetic energy and transforming it to heat energy, it is then dissipated. To be able to perform its functions, there needs to be a specific amount of mass and a smooth surface.
Proper cooling is also the main benefit of having high-quality rotors. They have well-designed fin patterns that improve the ability for heat dissipation. Consequently, this makes sure of better cooling efficiency.
To fully enjoy the benefits of having the brake rotor, however, it is important to make sure that the latter has the right design and material. Upgrading your brake system is sure to be worth the spending, especially because it enhances safety.
How Long Do Brake Rotors Last?
Brake rotors, similar to other parts of the car, can be prone to wear and tear. Especially if you use your car every day and in long drives, it can be abused. They are subjected to a lot of heat and constant friction. Over time, this can lessen their functional performance and can even compromise your safety. That being said, it should be replaced from time to time.
The question is, when is the right time to have it replaced? According to many automotive experts, brake rotors will usually last 50,000 to 70,000 miles. To add, you also need to replace the rotors after about two the three maintenance services.
The 50,000 to 70,000-mile range is just a general estimate. There are different factors that can affect the functional life of the brake rotors, including the following:
Quality of the Brake Rotor: You should never compromise quality in exchange for a cheap price. More often than not, the expensive ones are made from premium materials, making them last longer.
Driving Environment: If you drive in a car-dense city and if there is a frequent need to stop and go, you need to use your brakes often, and hence, this can also minimize the lifespan of the brake rotor. When the roads are winding and hilly, more pressure is also applied to the brake rotor.
Driving Style: An aggressive driver tends to apply more pressure on the brakes, and hence, affecting the quality of the brake rotor. It produces more heat, and hence, accelerating the wear and tear of the components of the braking system.
Now that you know how long do brake rotors last, the next important concern is how would you know if it is time to have them replaced. An easy solution is to ask a local mechanic for inspection to determine if there is already a need for replacement. To add, watch out for the things briefly mentioned below:
Creating an Annoying Sound: Use your ears to determine if there is a persistent problem with your brake rotors. If they are worn out and distorted, you can hear a high-pitched noise once you apply pressure on the brakes. You might also hear a growling and grinding sound.
Noticeable Vibration: If there is too much pulsation or vibration that is produced by the brakes, this is another indication that the brake rotor is asking for a replacement. You can feel this vibration coming out of the pedal or the chassis.
Worn out Appearance of the Rotor: You also have to perform a physical inspection of the rotor and see if it is still in a good condition. A replacement is necessary if you can see scoring marks or grooves on the surface, which develops from frequent contact with the brake pads.
Pulling to One Side: This is one of the most dangerous things that can happen when your brake rotors are worn out. After applying the brake, your car will pull over to one side, which results from uneven brake pads.
Doing This Will Make Your Brakes Work Better and Last Longer
Frequently Asked Questions about Brake Rotors
Here are the answers to some of the most common questions that novice car enthusiasts have about brake rotors:
Should You Resurface or Replace Brake Rotors?
If you are noticing problems in your braking system, there are generally two things that you can do to your brake rotor: resurface or replace. A replacement will require you to buy a new one. By resurfacing, on the other hand, it requires grinding the surface, making it smoother and flatter. This restores its functions without having to cost too much.
One of the things that you should do is to measure the thickness of the rotor. Depending on the rotor that you have, there is a minimum thickness that the manufacturer specifies. If it is already way below the minimum, this means that it can no longer be resurfaced and a replacement is the best option.
The physical state of the brake rotors will also be a critical concern. Rust and corrosion are two of the things that can happen. They will inevitably lessen the functionality of the brake rotor and can even compromise your safety. With this, I suggest that you replace instead of resurfacing.
In a nutshell, although it can be costly, a replacement is better than resurfacing. Resurface can smoothen surfaces and lessen vibrations, but take note that due to the nature of how it is done, it removes metal and makes the rotor thin, which will minimize its functional life.
What are the Different Types of Brake Rotors?
When looking for a replacement and to have a better understanding of how brake rotors work, it is important to be familiar with the different types that are available, which include the following:
Drilled Rotors: This rotor is known for improving street performance and is perfect if you live in a place where there is a lot of rain. However, if you have a race car, stay away from this rotor as it is sure to perform poorly.
Slotted Rotors: This type of brake rotor is designed for heavy trucks, competition cars, and off-road vehicles, among others. They are designed with drilled diagonal slots, which is where dirt is directed away from the rotor and pads.
Drilled and Slotted: This is able to deliver the best of both worlds. It is common for newer vehicles, especially luxury cars. Nonetheless, for performance racing cars, these rotors can be easily prone to cracks.
What is Brake Rotor Made Of?
The materials that are used in brake rotors can vary depending on its manufacturer. Most of the standard replacement rotors are made from a material known as grey iron, which is simply cast iron mixed with other metals to enhance its quality. The higher-end options, on the other hand, are made from carbon ceramic, a material with hardness that is already comparable to a diamond.
What Causes Rotors to Warp?
One of the common reasons why you need to replace rotors is warping. The most common cause of the latter is when the brake pads operate at a temperature range that is outside its specified limit. Too much heat on the rotor can damage its physical appearance and overall functionality.
Where Are Brake Rotors Used?
The brake rotor is a part that is found not only in cars, but also in motorcycles and bicycles. The design and type of the rotor that you need will depend on where it will be used. For instance, racing cars demand a different type, one which can withstand excessive braking.
Can Brake Rotors Be Treated?
In some instances, rotors can still be salvaged instead of replaced. One of the main procedures to do this is through cryogenic treating. The latter is a one-time stress relief process, which uses heat and cold cycling to improve the quality of the rotor.
Tips for Brake Rotors in Cars
In this section, I will share with you some tips about brake rotors, including how to choose a viable replacement and how to maintain their optimal performance.
The performance of your brake rotors will depend on the brake fluid. Check the latter and make sure that it is at the right level. This will also provide the lubrication that is needed to lessen friction, and hence, minimize wear on the discs.
Bleeding the brake line is also necessary to achieve the peak performance of the rotors. This is important as it lets out air.
As you shop for an aftermarket brake rotor, make sure to consider the type, material, and overall construction, providing you with a guarantee that it will perform at its best. Price should not be the primary consideration.
If you are resurfacing rotors instead of replacing them, make sure that the last step is to wash it with soap and water, which is important in preventing the brake from making noise.
If you want to improve the stopping power and distance of your vehicle, you will need to use a bigger brake rotor. Nonetheless, keep in mind as well that if the rotor is larger, the wheel clearance will be decreased.
How to Replace Brake Pads and Rotors Top 10 Brake Job Tips
By now, I hope that you already know how long do brake rotors last. As discussed above, on average, it will last 50,000 to 70,000 miles. Nonetheless, this will depend on a number of factors, such as the quality of the rotors that you have, the environment where you drive, and your driving style.
Did you enjoy reading this post? Is there anything else about brake rotors that you would like to add? Do not hesitate to leave a comment below.