Your car’s braking components are some of the most important parts, which is why checking them on a frequent basis to ensure they’re in a proper working condition is essential. Worn down brake components can compromise your vehicle’s braking ability, and they can increase the stopping distance which can directly translate to greater risks of having an accident. That being said, if you’re starting to feel like your vehicle’s stopping power is slowly declining, it’s probably time to replace its brake rotors.
How Often Should Brake Rotors Be Replaced?
Typically, brake rotors should be replaced every 80.000-100.000 kilometres, or as soon as they start showing signs of wear or damage. Some of the most common warning signals that indicate damage or wear are high pitched or grinding noise when you brake, unusual vibrations when braking, the brake pedal starts feeling softer to press than it usually is, the distance your car needs to stop when you brake, and your vehicle is pulling to one side when braking.
Are Brake Rotors and Discs the Same Thing?
Yes, rotors and discs are practically the same thing. However, you may find the term disc brakes, which is a type of brakes, describing the entire assembly on the brake, including the brake disc, the pads that contact the disc and the calliper, which holds the pads and pushes them onto the disc. The other type of brakes are drum brakes, but those are slowly losing their popularity and are rarely found on modern cars nowadays.
What’s the Difference Between Drum and Disc Brakes?
Drum brakes are made from cast iron and all of their components are within the confines of the drum itself. While these brakes were commonly seen on all cars in the past, nowadays, you’ll usually find them exclusively on the rear axles of economy vehicles. These brakes operate by forcing two arched shoes housed inside the drum to expand outwards into the inner wall of the spinning drum with the help of centrifugal and hydraulic force. This generates friction, and as a result, it slows down the vehicle.
Disc brakes, on the other hand, are the better-performing solution, and they’ve been used on American cars as early as the 1960s. These brakes are made up of a large metal rotor (hence their name), 2 a calliper and two flat brake pads. Typically, disc brakes are made from iron or some exotic material like ceramics or carbon composites for performance purposes. In order to get improved cooling effectiveness, these brakes have vanes cast into the rotors. The callipers on disc brakes use up to eight pistons in order to get the massive clamping force (stopping power).
What Are the Different Types of Rotor Brakes?
Rotor brakes can be either smooth, slotted, cross-drilled or drilled and slotted. Smooth brakes provide just enough stopping power for your everyday driving conditions, and they offer a larger surface area than cross-drilled and slotted rotor brakes, allowing them to dissipate heat more effectively. Further, they aren’t prone to cracking under extreme abuse, whereas drilled-rotors are more susceptible. Due to the fact that these rotors don’t have drill holes and slots means that they maintain maximum structural integrity.
Slotted rotor brakes feature grooves cut along the entire rotor face where the pads make contact. When put under heavy use, the slots in the rotor enable the built-up gases to escape, keeping the rotors as well as the pads cooler, thus preventing pad glazing. Slotted rotor brakes put more of the pad in contact with the rotor when compared to drilled brakes, providing more consistent stoppage and better pad bite. Additionally, these brakes feature higher coefficient friction, so you’re using less energy to slow down the same amount.
Cross-drilled rotors vent gas and dust that builds up, and they look good while doing it. These brakes can keep the temperatures down under normal driving conditions and prolong the lifespan of the pads as a result. They also allow water to escape the surface of the rotor for improved wet-weather performance, making them ideal for street use.
Drilled and slotted disc brakes combine the functionality and looks of slotted and cross-drilled brakes. In other words, they run cooler and maintain a clean contact surface, and can provide a decent amount of durability and security as a result. These disc brakes are ideally used on heavy-vehicles that frequently tow heavy loads. You can pair them with quality brake pads and get exceptional braking power.
No matter the type of rotors you decide to go for, it’s important you don’t skimp on quality. With so many different models available, you can find rotors that fit your specific application. That being said, get rotors from a brand name you can trust that feature a high carbon content. Ensuring a proper fit is easy since rotor brakes are usually made to fit a specific model and make vehicles.