What To Know About Brake Rotors
A critical component of your braking system from tiny subcompact cars to heavy-duty pickup trucks and muscle cars, your brake rotors are essential to your safety. They vary significantly from vehicle to vehicle, providing stopping power designed to handle their weight, power, and purpose.
How Disc Brakes Use Rotors
Cars and trucks accelerate based on the engine’s power, but they decelerate or stop based on the brakes’ ability to absorb that power. Say you’re driving down the street here in Fairview Heights, IL on a rainy day and you need to stop quickly. Your brakes will need to grip, first clearing any moisture from the rotors and then holding on while the tires do their part to help you stop.
Brake Rotors Design and Materials
Each vehicle has different brake rotors: for example, the brakes vary greatly from small ones on the tiny Chevy Spark to heavy-duty, ventilated rotors for Chevy Camaros and Silverado Trucks. Other manufacturers have a similar spectrum of brake equipment. The design provides strength to handle the grip of the brake pads which can vary in material from simple resin and metal or Kevlar particles to high-temperature ceramics. A simple rotor is a metal disc attached to the wheel, but a more complex one is composed of drilled or slotted metal assembled to provide plenty of heat dissipation in heavy-duty use like racing or pulling heavy loads and stopping with them.
Rotor Repair and Replacement
Rotors can often be resurfaced or “turned” several times to restore their gripping surface. Eventually, they get too thin for proper performance and need to be replaced. Neglecting to replace brake pads when needed can damage rotors enough that they need to be replaced much sooner. Sometimes, braking styles such as repeated hard stops from high speeds can cause rotor damage as well. Brake work is typically done on a per-axle basis to keep stopping symmetrical, so both rotors on an axle will be replaced together.
Keeping Your Brake Rotors in Service Longer and Stopping Better
Brake rotors tend to last between 30,000 and 70,000 miles depending on how heavily you use your brakes and what kind of vehicle you’re driving. If you keep your vehicle lightly loaded, coast to a stop, or use engine braking to slow when it’s safe to do so, and avoid stop-and-go traffic, your rotors will last longer. Good grippy tires will also require less brake pressure.