Do I Really Need to Replace My Brake Rotors?

So, you visit your ASE-certified mechanic who tells you that you need more than just brake pads—you need new rotors, too. Is it true?

Here’s the real deal about brake rotors and when you need to replace them…and when you don’t.

A Brief Guide to Your Brake System

Just so we’re on the same page—rotors are metal discs that attach to your wheels. Brake pads are pressed against the rotors by means of the calipers, creating friction and slowing the rate at which the wheels turn, thereby achieving deceleration.

Industry recommendations generally call for brake pad replacement when pads have been worn to  – ” thick.  If you let your brake pad wear further, the backplate to which they are attached can start to rub against the rotor, causing grooves, increased friction, heat…and as a result of it all, warping

You Need New Rotors If…

If you have let your brake pads wear too thin, you are likely going to need to replace the rotors with the next brake maintenance job. Signs that your rotors need replacing include:

  • Metal-on-metal grinding sound when you brake
  • A grinding “feel” when you brake
  • A wobbling or rocking feeling when you brake

Wobbling is the most severe sign as it indicates your rotors are already warped. Warped rotors make for an uneven braking surface, which results in uneven braking performance. That means your vehicle may not come to a complete stop when you think it will/should…and that can easily lead to rear-end accidents, if not worse.

You Can Just Change Brake Pads If…

If you do not notice any of the signs of rotor wear, likely you can just change your brake pads. Your ASE-certified mechanic will give you the “thumbs up” on this if during a visual inspection they see no grooves or other signs of wear on the rotor…and that’s pretty obvious once the brake pads are removed.

When in Doubt

If you are not sure whether or not you really need new rotors or can just make due with new brake pads, we have a few suggestions:

  1. If you have doubts about your mechanic’s advice, find a new mechanic. You need to feel confident in the recommendations your mechanic provides so that you keep your vehicle in optimal condition free of the worry that you are being scammed or paying too much.
  2. Get a second opinion. If you like your mechanic for everything else—it’s just this one issue you’re unsure about, have another ASE-certified mechanic take a look.
  3. If you know that it’s been longer than usual since your last brake pad replacement, but you just don’t feel like your car’s behaving any differently when braking, you may want to err on the side of caution. There are few systems on your vehicle more important than your brakes when it comes to accident prevention, so you want all components to be in good working order.

Quanz Auto Body is available—with or without an appointment—for brake pad inspections and replacements. Our technicians are ASE-certified and care about your safety and your pocketbook. We give you honest assessments about your brake system to ensure you get the best performance without paying for parts and services you don’t really need.