When we talk about a motorized vehicle or car, the first thing that should concern us is how safe it is. And safety is determined by how efficient the braking system is. Now again, when we talk about the brake, we kind of forget that the mechanism has anything more than just the brake shoes. In fact, brake rotors, the metal disks that the pad keeps squeezing on when we press on the brake pedal, are equally important for the optimum braking performance of a car.
Over time, the force of friction causes the rotor to wear requiring a replacement. Most drivers are quick to replace the brake pads but forget about the other. However, every rotor has it's own thickness standard within which it functions at its top. You must replace it when it's time.
Today, we'll talk about the best brake rotors of the market and help you choose the right one from hundreds of alternatives. Make sure you read carefully so you don't miss out on the in-depth analysis and maintenance tips.
Why You Should Trust Us
The Gearbikesreview is a hub for a cluster of talented award-winning mechanics who spend their valuable time discovering the cream of the market and rigorously test them in the workshop. We choose the top-of-the-line products with the highest number of ratings and test them in a simulated environment in order to get their true performance. Based on the factual data that we derive from our testing and web research, we write reviews and how-to blogs.
We do not have any connection or affiliation with any particular brand or company, instead, we depend on our expertise, professional experience, and our extensive testing to describe each of our chosen models. Our aim is to give you the right information so you can make an informed buying decision.
How Did We Pick these Products?
We started by sorting 20 brake rotors out of hundreds that are available on the web. Our criteria for selection were the quality of build material, real consumer reports and reviews, price, feature comparisons, ratings from existing users, and durability.
Since we couldn’t test all the products ourselves, we had help from some community-based volunteers. The feedback they gave helped us understand the performance of the reviewed units. Apart from that, we carried out elaborate lab tests on our initially selected models for gaining factual data. Based on their actual performance we championed 10 models.
Then we consulted with other industry experts and mechanical engineers about our findings. Their invaluable insights helped us rank our top choices based on their individual features.
So, our top ten rotors were carefully chosen to ensure that they’re worthy and perfect for you. We’ve reviewed each of the models along with their pros and cons so you’ll have the right information to make a better choice.
Our Top 10 Product List
So, what is the best brake rotor brand? Let's find that out from the following section. Here, we have a list of the top Brake Rotors from which you can choose according to your car's model.
Notable Brands & Other Tested Products
During our journey of finding the top quality brake rotors, we came across hundreds of different brands and their models. Some of them were really good but somehow couldn't make it to our list as we had to short list. However, here are some name of notable manufacturers and their popular models for you if you intend to carry out further market research: StopTech, ECCPP (popular for their rotor models for Mini Cooper and Mazda 3 cars), Girodisc (popular for their 2 peice models ideal for Nissan Gt-R and Mitsubishi Evo X), CARQUEST Wearever, R1 Concepts (popular for their rotor models for Honda S2000 and Geomet & Eline series), OEM (popular for their model compatible with BMW E46 M3), Dodge Ram 1500, 2500 & LS400, and Toyota Corolla), Detroit Axle (popular for their rotor model compatible with Chevrolet Blazer S10), Ashima, ProStop, SCITOO (popular for their models compatible with Toyota Tundra), Hawk, Centric (popular for their models compatible with Ford F-250) Duralast (popular for their Gold models), Hart Brakes (popular for their rotor model for 1998 Chevy C1500), Napa, Brakewerkz (popular for rotor model compatible with C5 Corvette), TRW, Disc Brakes Australia (DBA) (popular model- T2, T3 4000, 5000), AP Racing, Avid, Brembo (popular for their rotor models compatible with BMW cars), Wilwood, EBC Brakes (popular for their GD Sport model),TARAZON (popular for their Harley-Davidson rotor models), Wagner, AM Autoparts (they make models for Toyota cars), Bosch (popular model- Quietcast), DECKAS, Akebono, 1A Auto (popular for their model compatible with Toyota Camry), Magura, Brembo, Power Sport (popular for their rotor model for 2005 Chevy Silverado), Focus RS, Sram, ACDelco (Popular for their rotor model compatible with Acura TL), Maxim (popular for their OE Spec ceramic model), Zimmermann, and Shimano (popular for their bicycle rotor models including- RT800, RT56, RT81and Dura-Ace SM-RT900).
Here are other models we tested:
How Does a Brake Rotor Work?
Brake rotors are disc-like metals on the wheels of the vehicle which you’ll see clearly by removing the tires. They connect the wheel to the axle and helps to slow and stop the vehicle. Many of them are made from cast iron, steel, and ceramic composites. Despite being made from a range of tough materials, they are formed from precision cutting.
So, how does the braking system work?
All braking systems have calipers that hold the brake pads. By engaging the brake pedal you’re pulling the caliper which in turn, pushes the brake pads together. The coming together of the two brake pads against the rotor will create a frictional force that tries to stop the spinning tires. Upon the release of the pedals, the caliper and the brake pads open, freeing the brake rotors for the vehicle to move again.
Brake Rotors: A Comprehensive Buying Guide
Since rotors are among the most important parts of your vehicle’s braking system and since they wear over time due to friction, it’s necessary to be serious when shopping for a replacement. Here, are the basic things you need to consider before buying.
1. Purpose of your vehicle
How and what you use your vehicle for is very important when buying a brake rotor. Here is a list of Brake Rotors for a commuter, towing, off-road, and street performance vehicles.
In reality, there is no special brake rotor for commuting vehicles because you can use any good quality OEM rotor. Yet, if you’re in the habit of carrying more load in your vehicle and cruising the steep roads, then, drilled rotors will be ideal.
Towing is like loading your vehicle while traveling on a hilly road. Once this happens, there is no doubt that the braking system will develop heat. So, you’ll need to buy drilled brake rotors for this purpose.
If you’re going through rough tracks like deserts or an area with many potholes, it’s ideal to avoid conventional rotors. This is because the clogs on the wheel often result in poor performance. So, you’ll need to buy either slotted or drilled rotors for off-road rides.
- Racing & Street Performance
Racing vehicles are often associated with speed-brakes and sharp turns which generates more heat. The only rotor type that will meet your vehicle’s demands is the drilled brake rotor.
2. Type of rotors
Before you buy a new brake rotor, it’s important to know their types and how they can affect your vehicle’s performance. The different rotor types are smooth, drilled, and slotted.
These are the most common rotors on the market. They have smooth surfaces that are without holes or markings. So, you’ll appreciate their efficacy during daily driving under normal conditions. They’re ideal for low-class vehicles and seldom produce noise or dust when operating. Smooth brake rotors are cheap, long-lasting, and are perfect for less aggressive driving.
These rotors have holes on the surface that makes for quick dissipation of heat since the buildup of heat could result in cracks. Besides, if you’re driving in the rain, the wheels will remain dry since the water will flow through the holes.
The only disadvantage with this rotor type is that the holes will reduce the binding force between the pads and the rotor. And this could limit the performance even though it’s a minor drawback considering other benefits.
These are brake rotors with lines or markings to quicker heat transfer and removal of water. They’re suitable for powerful vehicles that apply high-speed brakes which often increase the system’s stress level. Such high-performance vehicles can’t use drilled rotors since the braking system will likely fail. The slotted rotors are often expensive and tend to wear faster than drilled types.
These rotors have both slots and holes on the surface. They allow you to enjoy the benefits of having a slotted and drilled rotor in one piece. They’re the most efficient but very expensive.
Now-a-days, very much like the motorcycles with disk braking systems, advanced bicycles including Mountain Bikes (MTB), Road Bikes, and Cruisers have brake rotors for their disk braking system. This is because, by definition a rotor is essential for a disc braking system. These bicycle rotors have lesser thickness. Common sizes include--140mm,160mm, 180mm, 200mm, 203mm, and 220mm.
3. Material & Color
Brake rotors are mostly made from metals like cast iron, aluminum, and steel, but you’ll also find ones from carbon or ceramic materials. We can’t say which material is ideal since they have their merits and demerits. Cast iron rotors will perform excellently in heavy-duty trucks, but can’t withstand much heat and may even break. Yet, stainless steel rotors are good with heat and also light in weight, but aren’t as durable as cast iron rotors. For higher quality and performance you'll find titanium rotors that would be expensive. There are companies that offer custom made rotors where you can select your material they would use for your kit.
You can select your model from tons of colors matching the color of your vehicles. Popular colors include black, red, cream, cyan, yellow and blue.
4. Ease of Installation
If you’re installing the brake rotors yourself, then it’s essential to buy one with simple installation steps. Smooth rotors are easier to install than the slotted and drilled types. You’ll find some help by watching videos online and adhering to the manufacturer’s installation guide.
When buying a brake rotor for your vehicle, it’s important to get one that’ll provide good value for the money. You may not have to focus on extremely cheap models since their quality is often low, neither do we recommend the high-priced models. Yet, it’s better to opt for the top-rated brands with a reasonable price range since their features are more dependable.
When to Replace Your Brake Rotors?
Sometimes, it’s difficult to know if your vehicle needs a rotor resurfacing or turning or an entire replacement by simply inspecting the wears. To clear all doubts, here are the top signs that will help you know when it’s time for a new rotor.
- Rust – Although it’s normal for rust to appear on rotors since they’re mostly made from cast iron. A rusty and pitted kit would be subjected to fast wearing, so it’s ideal to do replacement as soon as too much rust is detected.
- Measure the wear – you can use a micrometer to know the extent of the wear on the rotor and it will show the exact thickness variations in millimeters that is resulted from the wear. Try to measure from the position of contact between the brake pads and the rotor. If there is a great difference between the measured rotor thickness and the original, then you need a new one. Also, if there are many uneven wears, it should be replaced.
- Pay attention to odd sounds – If you hear some unwanted sounds while engaging the brake pedal, it’s trying to warn you about a problem with the brake pad or rotor. If this sound persists, then you’ll need a rotor or pad replacement to prevent a complete breakdown of the braking parts. High-pitched sounds are the results of uneven friction between the pad and the brake rotors which are caused by markings on the rotors. Once these markings which are produced by a decaying brake pad becomes too deep, it means the rotor must be changed.
- Notice of vibration: A warped brake rotor or bad tire will cause excessive shaking of your vehicle once you apply the brakes. If the problem is from the rotor, then its surface is no longer even and should be replaced.
Please note that you might not get the genuine rotor replacement from your vehicle manufacturer all the time. In that case you'll have to buy one from a third-person manufacturer.
Brake Rotors Maintenance Tips
Once you’ve seen the right rotor to buy, the next thing is knowing how to keep it in good condition to prolong its life. The following tips will help you in the proper maintenance of these rotors.
- Check your brake fluid – the function of this fluid is to reduce friction between the pad and the rotors. So, it’s important to check if it’s in good condition and also if it’s at the appropriate level.
- Change the brake fluid – Once your brake fluid becomes milky in color, then it’s been contaminated and no longer fit for use. Refusal to change a bad brake fluid might destroy your wheel cylinder or master cylinder.
- Change the brake rotor if it reaches at its breaking point.
- Add new fluid – Change your vehicle’s brake fluid by emptying the master cylinder and then add a new lubricant.
- Bleed your brake lines – this is the process of removing air from the brake pipes. This task involves two persons so that when one is pumping the brakes, the other is watching the valve to cover it once the oil begins to flow.
- Inspect the brake pads and rotors – you’ll only be able to look at the brake pads to know its condition after removing the tires. So, if there is too much wear on the pad such that only a little portion is left, then it needs a replacement.
Brake rotors are among the most essential components in your vehicle and demand caution when buying. The fact is, a great percentage of your safety and performance on the road is linked to the condition of your braking system which is the reason you must pay attention to choosing the Best Brake Rotors.
Sometimes you might want to replace it with the same rotor type that came with your vehicle. But, if you want a better braking experience from what you’ve had so far, then you need to get something different. It’s often important to know your car type and its purpose to buy the rotor that will be the perfect fit.
Thus, we’re hopeful that this buying guide will provide the help you need in shopping for the model that suits your preference.