Over time, your car’s brake rotors will wear out and need replacing. While you may not enjoy shopping for new brake rotors, doing that will keep you safe while driving. Your brake rotors typically need replacements every 20,000 to 60,000 miles, but tough conditions, your driving style, and the brake pad type can impact when you’ll need to replace your brake rotors.
Knowing when it’s time to replace your brake rotors can not only save you money and time but also keep you alive on the road.
If you’re looking for the signs your brake rotors are bad, your car is likely making questionable sounds or acting out of manners, making you question the health of its brake rotors. And you’re probably on the right track. That said, here are seven signs your brake rotors are bad and need replacing.
What Are Brake Rotors?
Brake rotors are metal discs sitting on the wheel hubs behind the hub cap. As you compress brake pads against a rotor, the friction generates gasses and heat that may get trapped in the system. Although solid rotors are the cheapest option, they tend to overheat.
On the other hand, high-quality rotors are vented in different ways to reduce the heat. Machining slots and drilling holes into the surface interacting with the brake pads allows heat to dissipate faster and prevents debris and gasses from being trapped, prolonging the rotor’s and brake system’s life.
If you’re looking for quality rotors but don’t know where to start, check this comparison between EBC vs. PowerStop rotors.
How Brake Rotors Wear Out
Various causes, circumstances, and how those factors are combined over the car’s life can indicate that your brake rotors are worn out, such as:
- Quality standards: Quality standards refer to the quality control standards and materials used by the manufacturer over the course of brake rotor production, treatment, and distribution.
- Physical properties: There are solid, slotted, drilled, and vented brake rotors, and they each affect heat dissipation differently.
- Brake pad quality: Hard, cheap, or pads that aren’t properly installed can damage your car.
- Environment and driving style: Extreme conditions and aggressive driving can cause rotors to wear more quickly.
- Weight of the car: Cars that are heavier or have more added modifications or upgrades can also cause pads and rotors to wear faster.
7 Signs Your Brake Rotors Need Replacing
Brake rotors are a vital part of your car’s safety. Here are seven common signs they aren’t functioning properly and need replacing.
1. Vibrating Steering Wheel
If your steering wheel is vibrating and the brake pedals are pulsing when slowing down, it may be a sign there’s something wrong with your brake rotors. When you push the brake and the pads press the rotors, they become too hot, causing them to become uneven, wrapped, and worn over time.
Because your brake pads will press onto an uneven surface, your steering and breaking won’t be smooth, resulting in a vibrating steering wheel. This can be a sign you need to replace your brake rotors.
2. Intermittent Screeching
Intermittent screeching occurs when the braking system connects with rotors that have generated grooves. If you hear this sound, something is wrong with your brake rotors, and you’ll need to replace them with new ones.
3. Blue Color
When your brake rotors become blue, it means they overheated. To see whether that’s the case with your rotors, squat next to one of the wheels and check behind the wheel spokes. If the rotor looks blue, you’ll need to get a brake inspection and probably replace it with a new one. Note that the heat that damaged your rotors may have harmed the entire braking system.
This issue can happen if your brakes are engaged while you’re driving, so avoid doing that if you want to prevent this type of problem.
4. Excessive Wear
Over time, brake rotors will wear out like many other car parts. If you believe something is wrong with your rotors, check them for scoring or grooves. You may also want to check when was the last time you inspected and replaced your brake rotors. Note that brake rotors need to be replaced every 20,000 to 60,000 miles. However, this will also depend on your car, brake pads, and driving style.
Many times, excess rust is a hazardous rotor condition. Since rotors contain iron, they will rust if exposed to excessive moisture. While little spots of rust don’t necessarily mean you need to replace your rotors, too much of it means it’s time to replace them.
6. Your Car Takes too Long to Brake
Another sign your brake rotors are bad is when they stop working. However, you shouldn’t allow your rotors to arrive at this point because it can jeopardize your safety. To prevent this, replace your brake rotors as soon as you notice your car is braking more slowly.
7. Chemical Fumes
If you notice chemical fumes coming from your car, it can indicate malfunctioning calipers or overheated brakes, which can cause brake failure. That’s especially true for defective brake calipers, which can cause a brake rotor to become warped or off-balanced.
In some cases, the smoke will come from the afflicted wheel and the rotors will generate a sharp smell because of excessive heat without any smoke.
If you notice such issues, allow your brakes to cool down. Then, take your car for an inspection and get it repaired.
Stay Safe on the Road
After reading this article, you know some of the common signs your rotors are bad and need repair or replacing. Safety should be your top priority when driving, so make sure every part of your car is functioning properly, including your brake rotors.
There are various reasons your brake rotors wear out, like the vehicle’s weight, style of driving, and environmental factors. Although they can last for a long time, they will need replacement or repair, at least, if you notice any of the signs described in this article.
To be on the safe side, check your brake rotors regularly, and fix or replace them at the first sign something might be wrong.