When you depress the brake pedal on your automobile, do your brakes produce a lot of noise? If so, there could be a problem with one of the components in your car’s braking system.
More precisely, it can be a sign that your car’s brake rotors need to be changed to restore them to perform as intended.
You should spend some time learning more about brake rotors and their function before having your automobile serviced. Additionally, you ought to make an effort to learn about the brake rotor replacement cost. To learn more about brake rotors, keep reading.
Overview of Brake Rotors
The discs that are physically attached to each wheel on your car are called brake rotors, sometimes known as brake discs. This implies that your wheels and rotors both rotate while you drive.
The brake pads can press against and “bite” into the rotors to slow the automobile down. Your brake rotors typically feature a sizable flat surface composed of cast iron. Steel is used in some high-performance vehicles, with carbon-ceramic discs being the standard on race tracks.
The excessive friction from brake pads will ultimately cause the rotors to wear out and require replacement. You can generally find the minimum thickness on the discs or in the owner’s guide.
Furthermore, damage frequently develops due to the demanding heating and cooling cycle that brake rotors undergo over their lifetime. This might be observed as warping or even cracking of the rotor. Since the performance of the brakes is impaired, damaged rotors need to be replaced.
A Brake Rotor: What Is It?
Your car’s braking system is made up of a variety of components. This applies to all aspects of your brake system, including your brake calipers, brake lines, and brake pads. However, your brake rotors are among the largest components in your braking system, which is why they are so crucial.
To slow the car down, the brake pads can contact and “bite” into the rotors. The brake rotors generally have a big flat cast iron surface. Some high-performance automobiles employ steel, but carbon-ceramic discs are the norm on racing circuits.
If your brake rotors aren’t working properly, you’ll need to be ready to pay the brake rotor replacement cost as soon as possible to have your braking system back in working order.
When you look down on your wheels, the big metal discs that are generally positioned up against them are called brake rotors. When you press the brake pedal, they’re intended to operate in concert with your brake pads to provide the required friction to slow down your automobile.
Without them, it will be difficult for you to quickly and safely bring your automobile to a complete stop. They don’t need as much maintenance as some of the other parts of your braking system, but you still need to check on them often to make sure they’re functioning properly and keep your car’s braking system running smoothly.
Brake Rotors: How Do They Work?
Let’s discuss brake rotors in more detail in the context of your braking system now that you are aware of what they are. If you are unaware of the function brake rotors serve in slowing your automobile down, it is simple to take them for granted.
When you are unaware of how crucial brake rotors are to the whole scheme of things, it is also simple to laugh at the rotor replacement cost of brakes.
As we just discussed, brake rotors are substantial metal discs that revolve around the wheels of your automobile as you travel down the road. They will do nothing in your automobile if you don’t press the brake pedal except let the wheels keep turning. But they will activate when you depress your brake pedal.
Your brake rotors will come into contact with your brake pads from both sides, causing friction. The friction that results will then be transferred to your wheels via your braking rotors. Your automobile will ultimately slow down and stop altogether as a result of this.
What Is the Lifespan of Brake Rotors?
As you’ve already seen, the brake rotors on your automobile are crucial to the effectiveness of your braking system. Without brake rotors in good condition, you won’t be able to slow down and stop your car.
The good news is that your brake rotors won’t need to be replaced very frequently. They outlast a lot of the other components of your braking system. However, eventually, you’re going to have to replace them.
In general, you should get between 30,000 and 70,000 miles out of your brake rotors. However, such figures can vary based on a variety of factors, including your car’s kind and the driving conditions it is subjected to daily.
You should check your car’s owner’s handbook to see what the manufacturer specifically advises regarding brake rotor replacement. You’ll be able to determine how frequently you’ll need to budget for the expense of replacing your brake rotors.
When Do Brake Rotors Begin to Go Bad?
It’s rather simple to determine whether your car’s brake pads are starting to fail. When your automobile has poor brake pads, you’ll discover that stopping it will be more difficult than usual. When your brake pads are about to wear out, you’ll also notice that your brakes will generate a lot of unneeded noise.
The intense heating and cooling cycle that brake rotors must endure throughout their lives frequently results in damage. The rotor may exhibit warping or even fracture as a result. Damaged rotors need to be changed since they reduce braking performance.
It’s not always simple to determine when your brake rotors need to be replaced. As we mentioned before, they could cause your brakes to make some peculiar noises, but they might not also immediately produce any noticeable issues. Having said that, if you see any of these symptoms, you can typically determine that your brake rotors need to be replaced:
1. Grinding or Squealing Sounds
The screeching sound you hear while pressing the brake pedal is the first indication that the brake pads are worn out. The brake rotors can still be OK if you quickly replace the pads.
But as soon as you hear the sound of metal rubbing against metal, you know you’re trying to stop. This noise is a sign that the brake rotors need to be replaced since they are worn out.
2. Brake Pedal with Pulsation
The pedal will seem as though it is pulsing when the rotor becomes distorted. Because the brake rotor is no longer flat, this feeling develops.
The brake pad touches various areas of the surface differently when the brake rotor is deformed. The pulsation results from the issue, which slows down as the speeds decrease.
3. Impaired Appearance
Numerous problems may be diagnosed by looking at the rotor. It’s time to get them changed if the metal surface is corroded or has visible cracks. In every other case, attempting to halt puts you at risk.
You could also see scores or grooves on the brake rotor’s surface when it starts to wear. In these circumstances, resurfacing the rotor rather than replacing it is occasionally an option. In a moment, we will discuss that choice in greater detail.
NOTE: You shouldn’t disregard any of these indications if you notice them. Additionally, you shouldn’t disregard any advice your car’s manufacturer gives you regarding brake rotor replacement. To get new brake rotors installed as quickly as possible, you’ll have to swallow your pride and pay the brake rotor replacement cost.
Is Driving with Bad Brake Rotors Safe?
There are some automotive issues that you can keep causing damage to until you can get them remedied. But under no circumstances should you disregard any brake-related issues with your vehicle.
While you might be tempted to crank up the music in your car to block out the noise of your squeaky brakes, this won’t do anything to resolve the problem. To solve the issues you’re experiencing, you should get your brake system examined as quickly as possible.
Driving while having anything like damaged brake rotors is unsafe. If you continue to drive your automobile with damaged brake rotors, you could endanger both yourself and other motorists. When you’re driving your automobile around, it could make it challenging for you to slow down, which could result in an accident.
To avoid having to drive with damaged brake rotors for any longer than necessary, make ready to take care of the brake rotor replacement cost as soon as you can.
The car’s brake rotors are essential to the efficiency of the braking system. You won’t be able to slow down and stop the automobile if the brake rotors are not in good condition.
What Should Be Done In the Event of Bad Brake Rotors?
You should take your automobile to an ASE-certified technician as soon as you realize that your brake rotors are damaged and let them have a look at it. Your brake system will be examined by them to see what the issue appears to be.
Your brake rotors could need to be changed, or they might advise replacing a different component of your braking system. Everything will rely on what they find out.
Ideally, you should hand your car’s keys over to a mechanic that spends the whole day working on the brakes. When it comes to braking systems, these experts have seen it all, and they can identify damaged brake rotors in a split second.
Additionally, they may provide you with the most affordable brake rotor replacement cost. Installing new brake rotors in your vehicle can enable you to get it back on the road more quickly.
Should You Ever Try Replacing Brake Rotors On Your Own?
Some car owners will consider replacing damaged brake rotors themselves to avoid the rotor replacement cost. If you can get a brief internet instruction on how to accomplish it, it seems like it would be a straightforward task.
However, if at all possible, avoid trying to work on your car’s brakes yourself unless you are quite certain that you know what you’re doing.
If you’re not familiar with a car’s braking system, getting to your brake rotors so that you may remove them may seem like a difficult process. Anyone who has never worked on brakes before may find it extremely difficult to install new brake rotors.
Additionally, even a minor error might jeopardize your complete braking system and render it useless once you resume driving. If you ever get into a car whose brakes aren’t functioning properly, you can find yourself in a very dangerous scenario.
You should let the experts handle brake rotor replacement. You will be required to pay the rotor replacement cost for your brakes, but it will be money well spent. When you have professional work on your brake rotors and the other components of your braking system, you won’t have to worry about them not functioning correctly.
What Does the Brake Rotor Replacement Cost?
Now that you know how crucial brake rotors are to your vehicle, you also know why it’s critical to replace them as soon as you notice a problem.
When you take your automobile to repair, you won’t yet be aware of the brake rotor replacement cost. It will be a bit more than you anticipated.
The typical rotor replacement cost for brakes falls between $320 to $430 for most individuals. Included in that are the labor costs of between $100 and $150 as well as the parts, which will run you between $200 and $300.
Depending on where you get your car serviced and what sort of automobile you have, the cost could vary slightly. However, you should plan to spend at least a few hundred dollars on replacement brake rotors.
Reinforced carbon brake disc and rotor by The359 / CC BY-SA 3.0. As soon as you notice that your brake rotors are broken, you should get your car inspected by an ASE-certified mechanic. They will check your braking system to see what the problem seems to be.
Expect to cost between $400 and $500 for each axle including labor for a typical compact car with a moderately sized brake rotor. Due to its reduced size, the brake rotor for the rear axle will often be less expensive. Rear rotors are often solid rotors as well since they are less expensive to produce.
On the other hand, if you drive a high-end European vehicle, the cost may increase dramatically. A premium car will cost you about $1000 per axle, while a huge full-size SUV would cost you up to $2500 per axle.
This might last you your entire life if you drive a car with rear drum brakes. Unless there are grave circumstances, brake drums seldom need to be changed. If you need to replace the brake drums, you should budget around $400 for labor for each axle.
Undoubtedly, the price of the disc will increase significantly if your braking rotors have large holes or slots. Of course, you may also replace your factory brakes with performance ones but bear in mind that they will always require more frequent maintenance.
The brake rotors might not even be worn down in some circumstances. It could just be distorted, in which case the disc surface can be “skimmed” or resurfaced to allow the rotor to be reused. Without the work to remove and install the rotors, a resurfacing service typically costs $15 per rotor. If your automobile has pricey rotors, that is significantly more cost-effective.
While uncommon, it’s important to be aware that 2-piece rotors occasionally replace conventional rotors on high-end sports vehicles. These rotors have a distinct, replaceable rotor surface that is removable. However, because of the unusual structure and particular uses, the costs might be quite high.
What are the Brake Rotor Replacement Cost Determinants?
As we said earlier, several elements might influence the price of brake rotor replacement, so let’s look at some of the most prevalent ones.
1. Rear vs. Front
There may be a difference in size between the brake rotors on the front and back of your car. Because of this, the cost may vary depending on the axle being repaired.
Typically, a car’s front brake rotors will provide the majority of its stopping force. Costs will inevitably increase if they are greater than the rear rotor diameter.
2. Make or Model of the Vehicle
The cost of replacement components will vary depending on what you are driving, just like it does with all auto parts. The cost of a replacement should decrease as brake rotor size decreases.
For instance, replacing the rotors should be less expensive if you drive a tiny car rather than a heavy-duty truck. Because the task might be simpler, the labor might also be less expensive.
Finally, consider the expense of operating a premium car. Numerous German automakers want specialized mechanics, which raises the cost right away. Aside from that, the parts are often more expensive than those for a typical car.
3. Aftermarket vs. OEM
Brake rotors come in a variety of pricing ranges, just like any other item you could buy. There are also more affordable versions as well as more expensive choices.
For a normal small automobile with a reasonably large brake rotor, budget between $400 and $500 for each axle, including labor. The brake rotor for the rear axle will frequently cost less because of its smaller size. Because they are less expensive to make, rear rotors are frequently solid rotors as well.
You can pay more if you pick OEM brake rotors than if you use aftermarket components. But certain aftermarket components might cost more. Think about how long they will endure and the performance you may anticipate as you evaluate these possibilities.
A longer lifespan and good operation do come at a higher cost, but the added peace of mind is frequently worth it. You should also include warranty protection, in case something does go wrong.
4. Installation By a Professional vs. a DIY
It is better to have a professional handle the brake rotor replacement if you are unsure how to do it yourself. However, employing a repair shop will cost you extra money.
However, you may save a lot of money if you feel confident changing your brake rotors. The brake rotors are the only thing you need to purchase; the work is only a matter of time.
5. The Material Used to Make the Rotor
Depending on your demands, several materials are used to create rotors. Cast iron is used to make inexpensive brake rotors, however, this material does not offer a longer lifespan.
On the other hand, if you have a race vehicle or are prepared to spend a bit more money, you may utilize steel, aluminum, or carbon ceramic material. The quality of the rotors increases with price.
6. Rate of Performance
You might opt to spend money on performance rotors if you do a lot of hauling or off-roading. Otherwise, investing more money in high-performance rotors is unnecessary.
You can pick a variety of performance rotor types. Slotted, drilled, and vented rotors are available alternatives with various advantages.
7. Control of Corrosion
It is advisable to prevent the rotors from corrosion if you live in a region with a lot of snowfall or high humidity. Different techniques are used by manufacturers to minimize corrosion, all of which raise the cost.
There are brake rotors available with electrophoretic zinc plating, which extends their lifespan. Rotors can also be painted or powder-coated to extend their lifespan.
DIY Replacement of the Brake Rotors
While changing the pads, if the rotors need to be replaced, you can do so. Simply removing the caliper bracket that holds the brake rotors in place is all that is required. But you also need to remove any security screws that are securing the rotor to the wheel hub on some vehicles.
The rotors occasionally won’t come off easily. This is brought on by rust accumulation on the rotor-holding wheel hub. In this instance, a little WD40 and gentle hammer pressure can quickly remove it.
Is It Worth It to Incur the Brake Rotor Replacement Cost?
Many automobile owners would prefer not to pay the brake rotor replacement cost for brand-new brake rotors. In addition, if other brake parts need to be changed, the whole cost may be somewhat greater than the amount we just specified. You could start to doubt whether it’s worthwhile.
Front suspension and brake system by CZmarlin / CC BY-SA 3.0. If you choose OEM brake rotors rather than aftermarket ones, you may spend extra. However, certain aftermarket parts could be more expensive.
Some auto parts might not be pricey enough to replace. Rotors for brakes are not among them, though. Driving with damaged brake rotors won’t be an option if you intend to maintain your automobile for the near future.
Knowing that you have damaged brake rotors will make you feel unconfident when you depress the brake pedal. Simply put, they won’t function as they should every time.
You should bite the bullet and pay the price to have your brake rotors replaced even if the rotor replacement cost may be greater than you would want. It’s the only certain way to guarantee that your entire braking system will work effectively when you need it.
How Frequently Should You Incur the Brake Rotor Replacement Cost?
Your driving habits will determine how frequently you should change your brake rotors, just like you do with brake pads. Some, however, contend that every time you perform brake work, the brake rotors should be replaced.
That’s not a hard and fast rule, and if you keep throwing out perfectly fine rotors, the expenses may add up quickly. As a general rule, whenever brake pads need to be replaced, additional attention should be given to the rotors. You can replace the rotor if there is obvious evidence of significant warping or wear.
That puts the mileage between 70,000 and 80,000. You don’t want to wear the rotor down to the point where the pads have no surface to grip.
Measuring the rotor thickness is the only way to be certain. The owner’s handbook should be consulted for specifics since they differ from vehicle to vehicle. On certain rotors, it is printed directly on the hub. On the surface of the rotor, some feature an indicator.
Additionally, there are signs and symptoms that the driver should be aware of that call for a rotor replacement. For instance, if you apply the brakes and feel the pedal vibrate, the rotor is rattling as the brake pads are applying pressure on it. A twisted rotor may cause this.
When this occurs, you ought to get your braking system inspected and maintained. This implies that the braking parts must be completely cleaned and changed as necessary.
The fluid that keeps the brakes from locking up is a frequently forgotten aspect of brake system maintenance. Even though it has an access cap when was the last time you checked the brake fluid in your car?
Are All Four Rotors Required to Be Replaced At Once?
Not all four brake rotors need to be replaced. Most of the time, replacing the brake rotors on the same axle is adequate. If your brake pads aren’t already brand new, you should replace them at the same time.
Both sides will argue their positions if you conduct an online search for this answer. Consequently, it’s crucial to consider the brake rotors in the same way that you do the tires. The car’s four tires will eventually need to be changed, but why would you want to replace any of them before you have to?
Enjoy the other axle if you can get another six months or so out of it. Yes, you will need to visit the repair business again, but generally, you are saving money.
Close-up of a disc brake on a rotor by David.Monniaux / CC BY-SA 3.0. The four brake rotors do not all require replacement. Changing the brake rotors on the same axle is usually sufficient. You should also change your brake pads at the same time if they aren’t brand-new already.
Is Resurfacing Possible for Brake Rotors?
Instead of replacing them, some brake rotors can be resurfaced. With the use of a lathe, a little piece of the surface is removed during the resurfacing process. For a longer lifespan, any rust or deposits can be removed while the surface is being smoothed down.
Resurfacing the rotors could be suggested if the technician replacing the brake pads notices slight flaws in them; the procedure is inexpensive.
It’s crucial to understand that not all rotor surface flaws can be corrected by resurfacing. Cast iron cannot be polished to remove hard areas. For resurfacing, some rotors are already too thin. Thankfully, the technician should be aware of when it is and is not suitable.
If in doubt, it is usually preferable to replace the rotors rather than simply resurface them. The rotor shouldn’t deteriorate to the point where it falls short of manufacturing requirements. The rotor material is more prone to warping at this point, which results in a hazardous drive.
Furthermore, the rotor should never be tampered with if it has significant damage. Install a fresh set to save yourself the hassle.
Tips from a Mechanic On Brake Rotor Replacement
- The brake rotor and pads should always be replaced together.
- When you reassemble everything, make sure the brake pads, caliper piston, and sliding pin all smoothly move.
- The parking brake shoes occasionally use the interior of the brake disc as a friction area if the rear brake rotors are replaced. If your car’s model has this issue, you might want to think about changing the parking brake shoes at the same time.
- Make sure to include new gliding pins and parking brake components when estimating the price of a brake rotor replacement. Some brake rotor replacement projects necessitate these components.
Knowing the typical price to replace brake rotors can help you plan your budget for your car’s required maintenance.
When they begin to show symptoms of wear, brake rotors—a crucial component of a car’s braking system—should be changed.
Knowing the typical cost to replace brake rotors will help you maintain the condition of your vehicle and prevent more expensive repairs in the future.
Reinforced carbon brake disc and rotor by The359 / CC BY-SA 3.0
Jim Wicks is the founder of MotorVehicleHQ. With over two decades of experience in the automotive industry and a degree in Automotive Technology, Jim is a certified car expert who has worked in various roles ranging from a mechanic, car dealership manager, to a racing car driver. He has owned more than 20 cars over the past 15 years. Ask him about any vehicle you see on the road and he can tell you the make, model and year. He loves the aesthetics of all things cars, and keeps his vehicles in pristine condition.
In his free time, Jim enjoys getting his hands dirty under the hood of a classic car or taking long drives along the country roads. His favorite car? A 1967 Shelby GT500, a true classic that, according to Jim, “represents the pure essence of American muscle.”