The brakes are a critical safety feature in a car. The brake rotors or discs are the metallic round plates attached to the wheel. When the pads push against the rotors, they (rotors) stop the wheel from rotating. Unfortunately, like other parts of the vehicle like tires, the rotors also wear with time, and that's when you start hearing unusual noises and vibrations from the brake-wheel assembly.
The primary function of the rotors is to absorb and dissipate the immense heat produced during braking. In fact, heat is the primary cause of rotor wear and warping. It can also be caused by glazing, which occurs when the rotor material hardens and develops a smooth, shiny surface that can no longer create friction with the brake pad.
While you need to have the rotors replaced because of excessive wear, it is critical to understand how long the brake rotors should last. In other words: When should you have the brake discs replaced?
How Long Should Brake Rotors Last?
Typically, the lifespan of a vehicle's brake rotors is about 30,000 to 70,000 miles. However, they might wear at varying rates, depending on the rotor design and type, road conditions, and driving behavior. For example, if you apply the brakes often and more aggressively, you generate more heat, causing rotors to wear quicker.
Additionally, mechanical problems can also impact rotor longevity. Issues like sticking brake calipers, semi-metallic pads that rub against the rotors, and poor wheel alignment can also cause excessive rotor wear. Apply excess torque when tightening the rotors can also cause the rotors to warp, resulting in reduced durability.
Should You Replace or Resurface Worn-Out Rotors?
If your brake rotors are still in a functional state despite slight wear, you can continue using them by resurfacing them. That means grinding the metal surface until it achieves an even and smooth surface. However, if you have heavily corroded, cracked, warped, or glazed rotors, the chances are that they have exceeded the manufacturer's recommended limit. Hence, replacing them is the best option. It is worth noting that resurfacing is but a temporary solution. It would be best to partner with an automotive care technician for professional advice.
If you are unsure about your car's rotors or the safety of your vehicle, we invite you to bring your car to ASE-certified master technicians at our auto repair shop today!