Which Brake Rotors Are Best For Your Car?

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Introduction

Brake rotors are an integral part of your car’s braking system. They provide a surface for the brake pads to grip which in turn slows your car down. Buying the right type of brake rotors for your individual needs ensures safe stopping time after time. It can also save you money on replacement rotors and pads. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about brake rotors and give you the knowledge to choose the perfect ones for your car!

**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.

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What Are Brake Rotors?

Brake rotors take the form of a disc which are attached to your vehicle’s axles at each wheel. Applying the brakes causes the brake pads to squeeze the rotor from either side, creating friction and heat. This is the action that slows your car.

Everyday brake rotors are made from grey cast iron, which is a type of cast iron that contains graphite. This kind of rotor works well across the range of temperatures that road cars experience, is long-lasting, and dissipates the heat generated from the friction of braking quite well. The graphite it contains also helps to reduce noise generated by braking. Many race cars use carbon brake rotors and pads but these setups are poorly suited to everyday driving as they need to get up to a certain temperature before they perform properly.

Why Use Quality Brake Rotors?

Why Use Quality Brake Rotors?

First and foremost, it’s important to use quality brake rotors because they make up part of your car’s safety systems. Forget about repair bills and running costs, nothing is more important on your car than the parts that keep you and your loved ones safe.

Quality brake rotors have a long service life (much longer than a set of pads) over which they provide consistent, controlled stopping power time and time again. As with most other products, lower quality rotors stop functioning properly sooner than good ones. This decline in function usually takes one of two forms.

First, low-quality rotors can become warped by the thousands of heating and cooling cycles that your braking system experiences. Warping means that the rotor is no longer “true” meaning that if you sit in front or behind your car and spin the rotor it would wobble from side to side as it turned. Warped brake discs make your car handle poorly under braking and can negatively affect your brake balance (the amount of force the brakes exert on the front and rear axles).

Second, low-quality rotors can wear out sooner because they are made of cheaper, less durable metal. Check out this video for a simple way to test if your brake rotors are worn out!

Advantages Of Using Quality Brake Rotors

Quality brake rotors help you to stop in a shorter distance over and over again without your brakes fading and losing their stopping power. The number one advantage of using quality brake rotors and other braking components is the confidence that they allow you to drive with. Knowing you’re always in control and feeling safe on the road is a major benefit. Aside from that, there’s the obvious advantage of spending money on rotors less often because you bought quality ones last time you had to change them.

How To Keep Your Brake Rotors In Good Condition

Like any other component of your car, taking care of your brake rotors is a fairly simple thing to do. Looking after your rotors will extend their service life and keep them working as they should without vibration, noise, and excess brake dust. Driving your car gently is the main way to look after your rotors. When approaching a red light take your foot off the gas earlier and allow your car to lose some momentum by coasting. When you apply the brakes do so with plenty of room before you need to come to a stop. Slowing down gradually rather than all at once in a short distance generates less heat in your braking system and puts it under less stress. This will help your brake rotors to last a lot longer than someone with a violent driving style.

Features To Look Out For When Choosing Brake Rotors

Before you go looking for rotors you need to decide what your needs are. If you drive a powerful car, enjoy driving quickly, or take your ride to the track occasionally you’ll need higher performance rotors than the average grocery getter. Once you know what you’re going to be asking of your rotors there are a few characteristics to consider.

  • Size. Bigger rotors provide more surface area for the pads to grab and help them to slow you down sooner. Another benefit of big rotors is the fact that they have more space to spread braking heat out and allow it to dissipate. High-performance vehicles generally use bigger rotors than everyday cars with the only limit being how many rotors can fit inside the wheel. Some race cars use inboard brakes to reduce unsprung weight but that’s another story entirely! 
  • Heat Dispersion. To prevent brake fade and ensure a long life for pads and calipers, brake rotors need to be able to get rid of the heat generated by braking. Brakes that stay hot for too long can cause all sorts of problems. There are two main factors that determine how well a rotor dissipates heat: the materials that it’s made from and the way that it’s designed.
  • Materials. Cheaper brake rotors are made from lower-quality steel or iron and as such, they stay hotter longer and wear out sooner. Good quality rotors should be able to handle hundreds of thousands of heating and cooling cycles without fading or failing. It’s often better to spend a little more upfront on rotors so that you can save money down the line.
  • Cheaper brake rotors are made from lower-quality steel or iron and as such, they stay hotter longer and wear out sooner. Good quality rotors should be able to handle hundreds of thousands of heating and cooling cycles without fading or failing. It’s often better to spend a little more upfront on rotors so that you can save money down the line.
  • Design.
    All brake rotors are the same general shape but that’s where the similarities end. There are one-piece rotors (a simple solid metal disc) and two-piece rotors which have a gap between the front and back surface of the rotor. The two sides are joined in the center by metal fins, or vanes. The reason for this design is that it allows cool air to get inside the rotor and cool it down more quickly.
    Another aspect of rotor design is drilling/slotting. These methods create a larger surface area for cool air to get to by drilling holes in the rotor and cutting channels into its surface. The more surface area, the better the cooling. They also slightly reduce the weight of the rotor while keeping it the same size.

How To Install Brake Rotors

Installing new brake rotors at home is a good way to save money on a costly brake job. However, you should only attempt it if you have confidence in your DIY mechanic abilities. If that’s the case you can find out all you need to know from the entertaining and informative Scotty Kilmer video below!

The Best Brake Rotors Reviews

Ready to take on that brake job? Below you’ll find a list of pros and cons for some of the best everyday rotors on the market. Race car stuff this is not, but they’ll keep you safe going to and from work, the grocery store, and anywhere else you travel in normal motoring.

1

Bosch is a huge player in the braking industry. The company claims that one in three American, European, and Asian vehicles uses their braking parts. That scale of OEM production makes it extremely likely that their rotors will work with your vehicle. Their QuietCast range of brake rotors is designed to provide smooth, consistent stopping power over a long service life.


Pros

  • The rotor contains a center layer of cooling vanes to dissipate heat
  • Precisely balanced to give a smooth pedal feel and minimize noise
  • Consistent wear
  • Clean-look coating so they look good behind your vehicle’s wheels

Cons

  • Sold individually, not in a set of two or four

2

Dura has been in business for more than 45 years. While these rotors may not be as advanced in their design as others on the list they do come with an electrophoretic coating. Dura says that this coating makes their rotors highly resistant to corrosion and salt build-up. One downside is that the rotors are quite heavy which can have a negative impact on handling thanks to increased unsprung weight.


Pros

  • Corrosion-resistant finish
  • Balanced to ensure smooth braking

Cons

  • Solid construction means that they aren’t as good at dissipating heat as other rotors on this list.

3

Wagner states that its rotors are manufactured with very tight tolerances so that their customers get consistent and reliable stopping power every time. The vanes between the front and back of the rotors are cast in a patented design that’s specific to the rotors’ intended application. The design also takes into account the run-in process required for new rotors and aims to shorten it with a smooth surface finish and clever packaging.


Pros

  • Same kind of anti-corrosion coating as the Dura rotors above
  • Vane design to help cooling and reduce noise
  • Smooth finish and vapor-inhibiting shipping bag mean less prep and run-in time

Cons

  • Quite heavy at 14 lbs each

4

ACDelco’s Advantage brake rotors come backed by a 12-month warranty with unlimited mileage. That’s confidence in a product for you! They’re manufactured to replace OEM rotors with very tight tolerances to make sure they provide smooth and consistent stopping. The only downside is weight. 20 lbs is quite a lot of unsprung weight compared to other rotors on this list.


Pros

  • 12 month/unlimited mile warranty
  • No machining needed, can be installed right out of the box
  • Designed to match OEM brake rotors exactly

Cons

  • Rotors weigh a hefty 20 lbs each

5

Prime Choice’s offering is unique on this list because the purchase price includes two rotors and four brake pads. When replacing a brake rotor it’s important to also replace its counterpart on the other side of the vehicle to maintain brake balance. Prime Choice Auto Parts may not have the brand recognition of other companies on this list but its bundle deal is certainly worth considering.


Pros

  • Ships with a set of four brake pads and two rotors
  • Durable coating to inhibit rust and other corrosion
  • Manufactured with exacting tolerances

Cons

  • Not as established a name as other manufacturers on this list

In Conclusion

Brake rotors need to be able to stop your car before they do anything else. After that, lightness and clever design are important too. In this comparison, we’re going to give the win to the Bosch QuietCast rotor because it provides reliable stopping power, smart design, and lower weight than the other rotors on the list. There are, of course, higher performance rotors available but we feel the QuietCasts are the best all-around performer for everyday driving. Thanks for reading our brake rotors guide and happy stopping!

Jason Trevino
 

Jason is a talented and advanced author, blogger and auto expert. He is determined in researching thousands of products so as to make it easy for the owners to find the best products. He focuses on giving users better understanding on products they are using and ones they anticipate to buy.

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