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Why Do Brake Rotors Fail?

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What are Rotors?

A key part of your vehicle’s brake system, rotors are the large metal discs that are inside of each wheel. Found on disc brakes, the rotor is attached to the wheel by the vehicle’s axle. Depending on the design of your hubcaps, they may be visible.

rotor-location-diagram

How Rotors Work

Brake rotors work with the brake pads to safely stop your car every time you hit the brake pedal. The rotor rotates with the wheel and when you apply the brake pedal, the brake pad clamps down on the rotor to bring your vehicle to a stop. When it comes to stopping your vehicle, rotors are as important as the brake pads.

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Do Rotors Wear Down?

A new rotor has a smooth and even surface. As the brake pad makes contact with the even rotor, you’ll enjoy smooth braking performance. Over time, your rotors can lose their smooth finish. Worn rotors result in increased stopping distances and diminished braking performance.

Common Causes of Worn Rotors

SUDDEN STOPS

Panic or emergency braking at high speeds can cause rotor wear. The friction from the brake pad grabbing the rotor can cause high enough heat to result in wear.

RIDING THE BRAKE

Constantly hitting your brakes can result in a buildup of excessive heat that may lead to wear. When driving down a hill consider switching to a lower gear rather than riding your brakes on your way down.

WORN BRAKE PADS

Driving too long on worn brake pads can cause rotor damage. As the brake pad wears down, the metal becomes exposed leading to metal-on-metal contact when you apply the brakes. This harmful contact between the pad and rotor can cause deep grooves to develop in the rotor.

Signs of Worn Rotors

Rotors are durable, but like other parts on your vehicle, they need to be replaced periodically. Driving on damaged rotors is dangerous; it can lead to increased stopping distances and a loss of braking power. If you notice any of these symptoms as you drive, it’s time to make an appointment with your mechanic:

  • Vibration when braking
  • Squeaking, grinding or squealing noises when braking
  • Grooves worn into the rotor
vehicle-with-old-rotor

Learn more about Wagner brake rotors, find your car part, or find a local car repair shop today.


The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be used in lieu of seeking professional advice from a certified technician or mechanic. We encourage you to consult with a certified technician or mechanic if you have specific questions or concerns relating to any of the topics covered herein. Under no circumstances will we be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on any content.

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