What Are Brake Rotors And When Should I Replace Them?

A car’s brakes provide one of its most vital safety features. With several parts that work together to create enough friction to stop thousands of pounds of metal, the brakes need regular service to stay in fighting shape. Though you might have heard of brake rotors, many drivers don’t fully understand their function. Sometimes called discs, the rotors provide a stable surface for brake pads to clamp down upon. As such, you’ll notice certain symptoms when they start to wear.

Screeching Noise

When almost any brake component fails, you’ll hear strange sounds as you try to stop the car. With rotors, in particular, the sound is generally described as squealing, growling or grinding. As rotors degrade, they get grooves on their surface, and these grooves produce a telltale symphony as you engage the braking system.

Steering Wheel Vibration

When you engage the brake pedal, several things happen: a lever pushes a piston into the master cylinder, which is full of hydraulic fluid; the fluid gets disbursed into pipes inside other cylinders next to wheels; this hydraulic system produces enough force to stop the car.In simpler terms, the brake pads get activated and make contact with rotors. If the rotors are warped, it causes the steering wheel to shudder or vibrate.


Rotors that need replacing will sometimes show age by changing color. If you want to get up close and personal with your braking system, you can try removing the wheels to get a look at the rotors. If they appear blue (a sign of repeated exposure to excessive heat), it’s time to have them replaced.

Fixing Rotors vs. Full Replacement

In some cases, a mechanic might be able to fix brake rotors instead of replacing them. Since these parts must maintain a smooth surface for premium performance, a machine can resurface them and extend their shelf life. For the brakes to stay functional, however, the brake pads should be replaced when the rotors get smoothed. Note: If rotors get resurfaced too often, it can thin them out, making them less efficient.

To know if you should fix or replace your car’s brake rotors, look to a trusted mechanic for advice, as well as the owner’s manual. The information from these sources should be enough to steer you in the right direction.

For all your car’s repair and maintenance needs, call the experts at Autobahn Automotive in Sea Girt, NJ, today!


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