Your vehicle’s performance depends on the attention you give to its braking system and other components. Most vehicles come with technologies like auto brake sensors and security systems that could make you feel safe. You should know that a high-tech system like the automatic braking will only work if the brake parts are in good condition.
Most drivers are quick to replace the brake pads than the brake rotors which is a major player whenever you apply the brakes to stop the vehicle. Once you engage the brake pedal, a force is created when the pads make contact with the rotors that brings the vehicle to a stop. Over time, this force will cause the parts to wear and then, needs a replacement.
Now, the market is full of different types of brake rotors making it tricky for some drivers to make the right decision when shopping. So, we’ll be looking at the ten Best Brake Rotors available as well as their maintenance tips.
How Does a Brake Rotor and Your Braking System 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.
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.
How Did We Pick these Products?
We engaged in a lot of research and tests to ensure that we’re choosing only the best brake rotors for you. So, we started by selected 20 brake rotors out of the top 40 brands that are available on the web. Our criteria for selection was good quality, good reviews, and ratings from existing users, as well as budget, material, and durability.
Since we couldn’t test all the products ourselves, we had help from some community-based volunteers. The feedback they gave helped to enrich our ideas about the performance of these products.
So, our top ten brake rotors were properly chosen to ensure that they’re worthy and perfect for you. We’ve reviewed each of the products along with their pros and cons so you’ll have every information to enable you to choose the best.
Basic Considerations for Buying Brake Rotors
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 the Best 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 best 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’ 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 when driving under normal conditions. They’re best 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 vehicle 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 hole on the surface. They allow you to enjoy the benefits of having a slotted and drilled rotor in one piece. They’re most efficient but very expensive.
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 best 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, steel rotors are good with heat and also light in weight, but aren’t as durable as cast iron rotors.
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.
Our Top 10 List
Here, we have a list of the top Best Brake Rotors on sale and they’ve been categorized by budget, point of installation as well as the vehicle’s type to make your selection process easier.
When to Replace Your Brake Rotors?
Sometimes, it’s difficult to know if your vehicle needs a rotor 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. If the corrosion is much, then it’s time for a replacement.
- 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 results 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.
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.
- 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 are 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 demands 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 buy only the Best Brake Rotors.
Sometimes you might want to replace 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.