The braking system of most vehicles consists of brake pads, calipers and metal discs called rotors that work to slow down a vehicle. When the vehicle needs to stop, the calipers squeeze the brake pads against the spinning rotors. Because a lot of friction is generated, rotors, like brake pads, need to be replaced periodically. However, drivers may not know when these components need to be changed or if other services can be done to prolong the life of the rotors a little longer.
The first step is to inspect the braking system. A healthy brake rotor will be smooth and have an uninterrupted surface that is free of dust, grooves and grit. If brake pads have caused grooves to form, the pads or the rotors may need to be replaced.
Another tactic is to listen for brake noise when driving. Mechanics state that noise is commonly associated with bad brake rotors. If the rotors produce squealing or squeaking noises or even scraping noises while braking, they may need to be replaced.
Warped rotors also may produce vibrations that can be felt when the brakes are applied. A pulsing or rough feeling can vibrate through the entire chassis.
Speak with a qualified mechanic to see if a lathe can be used to shave off a little of the rotors and get a few more miles out of them. Otherwise, to ensure safe, adequate braking, rotors will need to be replaced anywhere from 30,000 to 70,000 miles depending on the type of brake pads and motorists’ driving style.