Nothing lasts forever, and brake rotors are no exception.
After all, brake rotors are subject to a lot of abuse every time you apply the brake.
How long it takes to wear them out depends on several factors: how easily the rotors cool down, how you apply the brakes, the quality of the brake pads and their exposure to pollutants such as dust.
Of the above factors, however, the brake pads are the most important, as they come into direct contact with the rotors each time the brakes are applied. Therefore, you should avoid buying brake pads that contain a high proportion of metal.
It is best to choose low-friction materials such as ceramics.
Resurfacing Brake Rotors
Brake rotors can be resurfaced in case of slight irregularities. In most cases, however, it is not recommended to renew the lining, as this can make the brakes of your car noisy. When you re-coat a rotor, you are essentially removing a layer of metal. This eventually makes the rotor so thin that it is no longer fit for driving due to safety reasons. Therefore, rotors should not be recoated every time you have your brake pads changed.
You should also remember that not resurfacing the brake discs when necessary can lead to unnecessarily high wear of the brake pads. The uneven surface of the brake rotor can shorten the life of the brake pads and increase your maintenance costs.
However, resurfacing the brake pads is not very expensive. Many mechanics only charge $20-$30 per rotor to recoat them. However, you can expect a higher price depending on the damage to your rotor.
Replacing Brake Rotors
The availability of OEM parts has made it easier for the average car owner to replace car parts without spending too much money. In some cases, it is cheaper to replace a brake rotor than to have it recoated, especially if you are a DIY mechanic. Renewing the surface at home can cost you a lot of money, so it is better to have a replacement than to have the surface recoated.
Fortunately for you, new rotors are very easy to install. It is not necessary to prepare them for installation, as they are already perfectly finished. All you have to do is remove your old rotor and install the new one, and you are ready to go.
You should keep in mind that the cost of replacement varies depending on the make and model of your car. A genuine brake rotor on your average sedan can cost $140 or more. In contrast, a genuine rotor for a luxury car can cost more than $300.
Essentially, it’s up to you what you prefer. If replacing the pad is more cost effective for you, then go for it. Otherwise, always look for a replacement after refreshing the brake discs twice.
Things to consider before replacing or resurfacing the rotors
Before we move on to consider the argument of whether to resurface or replace the rotors, we need to talk about the characteristics of a high quality rotor.
1. Rotor Thickness
The manufacturers used to be very considerate of the quality of the rotors, and as such, they issued rotors that could outlast at least two sets of brake pads. However, the modern race to reduce vehicle weight and costs has made brake discs a victim. Manufacturers now produce thin rotors that wear out quickly. In some cases, the brake discs even wear out before the brake pads.
In order to counteract this problem, a minimum thickness indication is provided on the rotors. This specification is necessary to ensure safe braking. If the rotor is worn to such an extent that it no longer meets the minimum thickness specification, it should be replaced. Otherwise, the brake rotor can be recoated and reused.
2. Uneven Rotor Wear
Another major problem with brake rotors is uneven rotor wear. Uneven wear can occur as a result of aggressive driving behavior. One side of the rotor can wear out more than the other and cause problems when braking.
In general, a rotor that has less than 0.002 inches of lateral wobble is in good condition. This problem can be solved by re-surfacing the brake rotors. If the problem still persists, you may decide to replace them.
Corrosion is the arch-enemy of your car. It is particularly bad for rotors, as they are an integral part of your car. Corrosion and rust can affect your car if you do not drive it for a long time. Brake discs are most susceptible to this damage because they are exposed to moisture and dust.
You can feel the effects of rust when you drive your car after about a week or so of not having driven it. It is bad because it weakens the rotors over time, and you can hear squeaking noises when you drive your car for the first time in a long time. The brake pads will eventually remove rust from the rotors, but for a while, your braking power will be reduced.
4. Effects of Heat
Brakes heat up if you apply them frequently while driving. If they are applied continuously, they lose their ability to brake effectively. This heat is caused by friction, and friction is not your car’s best friend. The friction that occurs when the brake pad presses against the rotor must be dissipated efficiently for the brakes to work.
This dissipation takes place through small slots on the back of the rotor, also known as cooling fins.
However, these openings cannot dissipate too much heat. If they do not disseminate enough, your rotors may melt and your brakes may fail completely. Overheating in the rotors is caused by aggressive driving, downhill driving, and pulling heavy loads.
5. Rotor Inspection
You must inspect your brake discs properly each time you change the brake pads. The rotors should be measured to determine if they meet the minimum thickness requirements and if they contain a sufficient amount of metal to ensure proper braking.
If the rotor does not meet the thickness requirements, it should be replaced with a new rotor. Otherwise, if the rotors show any cracks, uneven wear or rust, you can always have them recoated at a reasonable cost and keep your brake rotors as good as new.