How Can I Tell If My Rotors Need to Be Replaced?

by Nick Davis

Your vehicle's disc brake system consists of a number of components including pads, calipers and rotors as well as mechanisms for lubricating the parts. When you press down on the brake pedal, the calipers squeeze the brake pads against the rotors and your automobile begins to slow down and stop. The rotors eventually wear down due to the pads pressing against them again and again. Your vehicle's rotors do emit warning signs to tell you when it is time for replacements.

Visually checking

Park your vehicle on a level surface and turn your car's steering wheel to the far left or right so the tires are at an angle.

Use a crowbar or tire iron to remove one of the wheel covers from the right or left tire, if a cover is in place.

Shine a flashlight into the wheel--you will see the brake rotor and caliper. Look at the rotor's surface. If it has deep grooves, a burned appearance, ridges and brake dust caked in the grooves, the rotor needs replacing.

Go to the other wheel and shine the flashlight. Look at the rotor's surface. If it too has deep grooves, ridges and brake dust caked in the grooves, the rotor needs replacing.

Repeat steps 2 through 4 if your rear wheels contain disc brakes.

Driving

Drive your vehicle on a street that is quiet and doesn't contain a lot of automobiles.

Press on the brake pedal. If you feel the pedal bouncing or pulsating back toward your foot, one or more of your vehicle's rotors are failing.

Listen for a grinding noise--metal against metal. This is an indication that your brake pads are bad and grinding into the rotors which are also in need of replacement.

Look at your vehicle's dashboard warning lights. If the “ABS” light is on, this is an indication of a brake problem including one or more of the rotors failing. The ABS, anti-lock braking system, contains sensors that monitor the rotors, pads and other brake components.

Tips

  • check If you experience any of the tell-tale rotor signs, repair your car or take your car to a repair center immediately. Driving with worn brake rotors is dangerous and your brake system will fail.
  • check Rotors have a two to three brake pad replacement lifespan, but depends on the type of brake pads installed on your car.

Items you will need

About the Author

Nick Davis is a freelance writer specializing in technical, travel and entertainment articles. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Memphis and an associate degree in computer information systems from the State Technical Institute at Memphis. His work has appeared in "Elite Memphis" and "The Daily Helmsman" in Memphis, Tenn. He is currently living in Albuquerque, N.M.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera brake image by Jan Will from Fotolia.com