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How to Tell if you Need New Rotors

How to Tell if you Need New Rotors

If your car is vibrating as you drive down the road or if everyone on the street can hear when you are about to come to a stop, you may want to check your rotors. The brake rotors (also known as discs) are an important part of your automobile’s safety system. Your brake pads clamp down on the rotors and that is what makes the wheels stop spinning. It can be very noisy when they become worn down. Rotors are every bit as important as brake pads and not maintaining them can result in damage to your car and personal injury to you and your passengers. 

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There are a few problems to be mindful of when you are driving that may be indicative of a brake problem.

Bad Vibes

If you feel your steering wheel vibrating and your brake pedal pulsing, this may be a sign that the rotors are wearing down. When a driver depresses their brake pedal, the rotors heat up a lot. Over time, heat damages the rotors and they can become worn down and unbalanced. The steering wheel and brake system are very close together. When the brake pads push down on the uneven rotors it will cause the steering wheel to vibrate. 

Screeching Brakes

Rotors develop grooves over time. When brake pads clamp onto rotors with grooves in them, it is like a DJ scratching an old fashion vinyl record while it is playing, but on a larger scale. When your car is vibrating and your brakes are screeching you will want to take a look at the rotors or have them looked at, so you can see what is wrong. 


Brake Fade

If you have to pump harder than normal on your brakes to get them to work, you may be experiencing brake fade. Fade occurs when the brake pad and the brake rotor are not creating enough friction to decelerate the vehicle at its normal rate. If you experience brake fade, remember to increase your stopping distance until you can fix the problem.

The Brake Light Is On

If you have a car manufactured after 2013, it has an anti-lock brake system. If something is wrong with your breaks, a warning light on your dashboard should notify you of the problem and its severity.


How to Check Your Rotors

If you have your own garage and the right equipment, it is fairly easy to do things like change your oil or brake pads and check the condition of your rotors. 


In order to check your rotors, you will need a jack and two jack stands, a tire iron, a torque wrench, and wheel chokes. You will also need a micrometer.


Make sure to park your car on a flat surface and engage the emergency brake. Unless you have your own lift, you will have to jack up the front of your car first and then the rear. You will want to place the wheel chokes beside the wheels that will stay on the ground. 


You should then loosen the lug nuts of the wheels that you will remove first with your tire iron. You only want to loosen them with a turn of about a quarter of an inch. Lift the vehicle until the first wheel you are to remove is off the ground and at a level that is comfortable for you to work.  Put the jack stands under the elevated side of the car and lower the car onto them. 


Now, you want to remove the lug nuts completely. You will do this with your tire wrench tool. You will then remove the wheel and the tire. You should be able to see the brake rotor clearly. It will be sandwiched in between the two brake pads. Check it for rust, cracks grooves and other damage. 


You should also check to make sure the disk is still thick enough to drive. If you look on the side of the disk, you should see the minimum number of inches thick that the disk should be. You can use your micrometer to measure the thickness. Simply put the meter across the center of the rotor. If the disc is under that minimum, you will need to have the disks replaced.


If your discs are blue, that is also a sign that you need new ones. A blue color means that your brakes are the victims of excessive heat. You should replace any damaged rotors or pads right away.


What Causes Brake Rotor Damage?

Using cheap rotors is never a good way for a car manufacturer to cut corners. If a rotor is created from a blend of irons, it is likely that it will have some weak spots.  If you continue to drive with worn down pads or rotors you will cause further damage to your brakes and possibly your entire car. 


Your driving can affect the life of your rotors. A lot of uphill and downhill driving can work your brakes hard. If you drive in the snow and rain, you are likely to wear out your breaks sooner than if you lived in a milder climate. Slamming on the breaks very quickly also can cause damage if you do it enough. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to apply the breaks when you are approaching a corner. 


Driving in stop and go traffic, such as in a metropolitan area is certainly harder on brakes than country driving. 


Most automobile owners will need to replace their brakes every 50,000 miles or so. Discs will need to be replaced between 15,000 to 70,000 miles.  

What are the Longest Lasting Rotors?

Believe it or not, there is a difference in the quality of rotors and every other component of your brake. It is best to do your research on brakes when you first buy your car. High caliber brakes are a good sign that the car itself is of a high quality. Your brakes are your car’s central safety system and safety should be an auto manufacture’s main priority.


However, if the manufacturer of your vehicle used cheap material to make the brakes, you can always upgrade. Whether you are going to replace the rotors yourself or take your ride to a garage, it never hurts to know what qualities make good brake rotors. 


You will find that there are many choices when it comes to both rotors and brake pads. The function of the rotor is to convert kinetic energy into thermal energy. The rotors disperse the heat in the engine. The cooling ability and thickness of the component are important things to take into consideration. 


Varieties of Rotors

There are several different types of rotors. They include basic, premium, and drilled and slotted. 


Basic rotors are comprised of recycled steel. These rotors often have fewer fins than their more expensive counterparts and those fins are thicker. This lets brake parts manufacturers use thinner cheaper disks while still creating a rotor that is bulky enough to pass the thickness test. Thick fins will not allow air to pass through the rotor and that can make it get too hot too quickly. The rotor will wear down rapidly and it may also wear down your brake pads.


Premium Rotors are made from a superior quality of steel. They are designed to ensure the correct amount of cooling and they are also easy to install. Some of them even have an electro-plated hub which helps to eliminate rust build-up. They are also balanced for trueness, so they are uniform with one another. They have a thick braking surface and that means they can last a really long time and even be reused.


Drilled and Slotted Rotors 

Slotted rotors have grooves that suck cold air into the spaces in between the brake pad and rotor. This allows for additional heat dispersal. The brake operation will also be cooler. The brake dust will be more evenly dispersed and they will be more resistant to the elements.


There are some performance rotors that are cross-drilled to assist in the even distribution of heat throughout the braking surface. rotors that have cross-drilled holes are cut away on the ends. this reduces the chance of the pads cracking when they slide over the drilled openings. Rotors that are both slotted and cross-drilled will have the best cooling and dust dispersal of all the rotors.


The staff at an auto parts store or a professional mechanic may be able to help you decide what rotor is best for you. 


What kind of Cars Have the Best Brake Systems

Toyotas are known for having great safety features and a stellar brake system is one of those features. US News rated the 2019 Toyota Sequoia as having the best brake system of any large SUV. The Sequoia monitors blind spots and even has pedestrian detection.


Toyota is another manufacturer known for it’s attention to safety. The 2019 Hybrid Camry has a state of the art emergency brake system and forwards collision warning, lane assist, and a rearview camera.


Where to go for Repairs

If you are not an especially mechanical person, or if you just don’t have time to work on your car, you will have to take your car to the shop to get it fixed. You can take it to the dealership or an auto body shop for repairs. 


The average cost of brake rotors is between $248 and $359. The cost of labor will depend on where you go for service.


As you probably know, taking your car to a dealership for service is almost twice as expensive as going to an independent body shop. However, a mechanic at a dealership will be certified in your particular make of car. They will have top quality parts on hand, so you will not have to wait a long time for repairs. They will charge you by the job rather than by the hour which will make the final cost of your repairs easier to predict.


Most drivers will advise you to go to an independent auto body shop for repairs. They will not charge you nearly as much money as the dealership and they are likely to be able to give you more individualized attention. There are many auto mechanics that are certified in repairing certain makes and models of automobiles. If you do a bit of research, you should be able to find an independent mechanic who is well versed in your type of engine.


AAA maintains a list of approved auto body shops. Angie’s List is also a good place to find recommendations for independent tradesmen of all varieties. Be sure to ask for references and get a price quote and a time estimate for all repairs.


If you are getting the rotors replaced as the result of an accident, you may want to file an insurance claim on the repair. Before you call the insurance company, remember to take the amount of your deductible into consideration. The deductible can often be higher than the cost of the repairs themselves.


Selling Your Car

There are sometimes when a car’s bad breaks can cause damage to a vehicle’s engine, rendering it undrivable and not worth the money to fix it. If this is the case, you may want to consider selling your car.


You can sell the car to the dealer from which you buy your new car. Although a dealer may give you a good price for your totaled car as a trade-in, they are likely to tag the money they gave you right back onto the price of the new car.


You can donate the old car to charity and get a tax donation for it. The charity should be able to give you an idea of how much your tax write off will be.


You can try to sell the car yourself, but you may want to consider the time and effort this will take. You will have to spend money to advertise that the car is for sale and you may have to show it many times before you have a buyer.


Sell the Car to Us 

Cash Cars Buyer can give you an excellent price for your car. All you have to do is fill out our online form with some basic information about your vehicle. We will call you and make you an offer. If you accept the offer, we will come to your house, do a quick inspection, give you your cash and tow the car away for free. All you have to do is click here to get started.


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