Should I replace or resurface my brake rotor

Should I replace or resurface my brake rotor to save more money? Your brake pads may be worn out, a caliper may be dragging, or your rotors may be damaged if you’ve been experiencing braking problems. The question of whether to replace or resurface rotors that require maintenance is one that is frequently discussed.

Not all rotors require replacement, but not all rotors can be kept intact. Rotor prices typically range from $50 to $80 for each piece if you need to replace them. Furthermore, the cost is typically reduced to half or less if you can resurface them. Thus, in this article, we’ll be discussing the following;

  • What is a brake rotor?
  • What is rotor resurfacing?
  • Should I replace or resurface my brake rotor?
  • Signs of brake rotor damage

Should I replace or resurface my brake rotor

Read more: Brake rotor replacement cost

So, let’s dive in!


What is a brake rotor?

A brake rotor is a part of the disc brake system found on the majority of modern vehicles. The heavy metal disc that joins your wheel to the wheel hub is called the rotor. The rotor rotates along with the wheel and tire whenever they are in motion. Your rotor is encircled by your brake pads. The brake caliper, a hydraulic clamping device, squeezes the brake pads against the sides of the rotor when you depress the brake pedal, causing friction that slows and stops your car.

Your brake pads’ friction substance, which may be made of organic, semi-metallic, or ceramic materials, will deteriorate over time and with use. For this reason, you should frequently change your brake pads. Even though they are not strictly intended to be sacrificed like the brake pads, your rotors will eventually deteriorate. They lose weight. Additionally, overheating from hard braking or towing large weights can cause glazing and hot patches on your rotors.

The type of brake pads you use, the quantity of salt and moisture exposure they receive, and your driving technique all have an impact on the lifespan of a rotor. Semi-metallic brake pads wear down a rotor more quickly than organic or ceramic brake pads. Your rotors will deteriorate more quickly if you frequently drive forcefully or ride your brakes. The lifespan of the rotors might also be impacted by their quality. As a result, you also need to service your rotors.

Read more: Brake rotor resurfacing, benefits and when to perform it

Types of rotors

It’s crucial to keep in mind that not all automobiles require the same rotors while choosing the best course of action. There are four main categories of rotors. Understanding the four types of rotors can help you order the correct machinery if you decide to replace them.

  • Smooth and Blank.
  • Drilled Rotors.
  • Slotted Rotors.
  • Combo Drilled and Slotted Rotors.

Smooth and Blank

These are the most prevalent rotor types used on typical automobiles, and they are distinguished by having a blank surface covering the entire rotor face. The ideal alternative for everybody who drives a regular car is this type of rotor, which is available in a basic and conventional style. If you drive more aggressively than usual in a basic vehicle, you might simply think of an alternative.

Drilled Rotors

Rotors with holes in them appear exactly as they do. To allow heat and dust to dissipate from the components’ outside, holes have been deliberately positioned all over the surface of the rotors. These rotors are fantastic if you live in an area where there is a lot of rain since they increase your braking power. This might not be the ideal rotor option if you drive a high-performance vehicle, like a sports car.

Slotted Rotors

Slotted rotors have slots all over their surface instead of punched holes. In the event that you drive a huge pickup truck or larger SUV, this may be your best option. These can be particularly useful if you frequently tow equipment. The fact that these particular rotors don’t last as long as the typical rotor is their only drawback.

Combo Drilled and Slotted Rotors

The demands of sports cars and other high-performance vehicles are catered for by these kinds of rotors. Any modified or high-performance car typically needs better braking, especially since they frequently travel at faster speeds. To serve as pathways for heat and water to escape, these openings and slots are present. Similar to the first option, these rotors can have a significantly shorter lifespan.

What is rotor resurfacing?

Every time new brake pads were put in the past, brake rotors were machined, or resurfaced. In order to determine whether the rotors met the manufacturer’s minimum thickness recommendation, a technician would measure the rotors. If so, and if there was enough material left over for resurfacing, the technician would disassemble the brakes, remove the rotors, mount them on a device (a brake lathe), and remove just enough material to restore their smoothness and ability to spin.

However, earlier brake rotors were bulky and hefty. They were durable enough to withstand numerous resurfacing procedures and numerous brake pad replacements. Modern cars, including the one you drive, have lighter-weight rotors. They are consequently narrower than older rotors and frequently lack sufficient margin for resurfacing.

Rotor resurfacing is thus no longer as common as it once was, but still being done frequently (in fact, new tools like on-car brake lathes make the operation more effective and exact). Resurfacing is still an option if it is found that a rotor has enough thickness for it and is not fractured or distorted.

Should I replace or resurface my brake rotor

Why you should resurface a brake rotor

Here is where rotor resurfacing can really payoff:

  • Still thick enough for resurfacing, the rotor
  • There are no more severe damages to the rotor, such as gouges caused by worn-out brake pads.

Resurfacing helps to increase braking performance to like-new levels by restoring smoothness to the rotor’s surface. When a rotor is too old, resurfacing it may not be a good idea. The best time to do it is when the rotor is still fairly young.

It’s crucial to understand that resurfacing does not restore the rotor’s structural integrity. It won’t resolve any security-related problems brought on by warping. The rotor’s surface is just being smoothed out by a procedure.

Why you should replace a brake rotor

It’s not always a good idea to get your rotors resurfaced. It only makes sense as a solution if;

  • Your Brake rotors are still quite fresh.
  • Your Brake rotors have only a little wear, such as no significant scratches.

Replace your rotors if the damage is more obvious. Your decision may also be influenced by the expense of replacement versus resurfacing. Resurfacing the rotors is almost usually less expensive when having a shop perform the operation. Many times, if you can change the rotors yourself, it will be less expensive than resurfacing.

It’s crucial to get replacement rotors of the highest caliber when you decide to repair your rotors. Rotors of lower grade deteriorate significantly more quickly than rotors of higher quality. Your car won’t stop as quickly if your rotors are deformed. Invest in high-quality rotors if you want them to endure a long period.

Signs of brake rotor damage

The wearing down of brake rotors is unavoidable. High temperatures and abrasion are produced as a result of the extreme pressure brake pads exert on them from both sides when they squeeze inside a caliper. It also makes sense that corrosion could form since they are made of bare metal that has been exposed to a harsh environment.

One or more of the following frequent symptoms may be present when your brake rotors need to be replaced:

  • Unusual brake noises, such as squeaking, screeching, or grinding.
  • Feeling of pulsation or vibration in the steering wheel or pedal when applying the brakes.
  • On the rotor surface, there are obvious deep grooves or scoring.
  • High heat can result in discolored or bluish heat spots on the rotor.
  • Rotors are no longer flat or even, which results in uneven brake pad contact.
  • On the rotor surface, particularly close to the edges, small or big cracks.
  • Excessive rust buildup around the edges or on the rotor surface.

Read more: Brake pad and rotor replacement cost


Is it better to replace or resurface rotors?

When the rotor face is consistent, it will probably be less expensive in the long run to replace the rotors. Damaged rotors may cause your brake pads to wear more quickly than new ones will, and resurfacing the rotors will only give them one more “hoorah” before they need to be replaced.

What are the disadvantages of resurfacing rotors?

Although some people machine rotors to increase rotor life, resurfacing rotors rather than replacing them has drawbacks. Poorer-quality rotors and safety problems can result from machining. Additionally time-consuming, and the procedure can be challenging to complete accurately.

Should brake rotors be turned or replaced?

Your rotors may get deformed as a result of frequent braking use and hot spots; having them rotated can help them survive as long as possible before needing to be replaced. In most cases, turning your rotors is unnecessary if their surface is smooth.

Does resurfacing brake rotors work?

The best time to do it is when the rotor is still fairly young. It’s crucial to understand that resurfacing does not restore the rotor’s structural integrity. It won’t resolve any security-related problems brought on by warping. The rotor’s surface is just being smoothed out by a procedure.

How long do resurfaced rotors last?

Resurfaced brake rotor lifespan varies depending on driving style, brake pad quality, and rotor construction, but it normally ranges from 30,000 to 70,000 miles.

How do I know if my rotors need resurfacing?

  • The steering wheel trembles when you brake.
  • When you apply the brakes, your brake pedal vibrates.
  • Possibly due to worn-out wheel bearings, wobbly wheels might cause uneven brake pad wear or warped rotors.

What are the signs of bad rotors?

A vehicle taking a long time to stop, loud bangs while braking, vibration or pulsation in the steering wheel, high-pitched squealing noise when braking, shaking steering wheel, large edges on the outer part of the brake rotor, and scratch marks on the rotor are some common signs of bad rotors.

Do new rotors improve performance?

It is frequently advisable to upgrade both the rotor and the pads simultaneously. When you pair a decent rotor with a pad made for that rotor, you’ll receive better braking performance than you would with an improperly matched combination. The price of a brand-new set of rotors and brake pads is its only drawback.

Do rotors last longer than pads?

Standard brake rotors can live far longer than brake pads, however, this is highly dependent on how well you maintain your brakes and how you drive. In order to extend the lifespan of rotors, they can also have their surfaces resurfaced as needed.

Is it OK to reuse rotors?

Many of today’s automakers advise against resurfacing the rotors when changing brake pads regularly. If they meet the minimum thickness and runout requirements set forth by the makers, are unscored, and show no symptoms of corrosion, they are advised to be reused. Rotor reuse has never caused me any issues.

That’s all for this article where we discussed the followings;

  • What is a brake rotor?
  • What is rotor resurfacing?
  • Should I replace or resurface my brake rotor?
  • Signs of brake rotor damage

Hope it was helpful. If so, kindly share. Thanks for reading.

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