How to Tell if Rotor Is Bad (Signs Of a Bad Rotor)

Are you suspecting that your rotors might be damaged and want to know how to tell if the rotor is bad? Look no further because you are in the right place.

This article explains some of the signs that tell you that your rotor is bad. It also gives you step-by-step information on checking your vehicle’s rotor and examining it for any form of damage.

Read on!

Brake rotors are discs made from metals bolted right to the vehicle wheel hub, allowing them to spin in direct proportion to the speed of the wheels. They work with brake calipers and brake pads to slow the vehicle.

With the brake pedal pushed on or pressed, the calipers immediately get the brake pads squeezed against the spin rotors to slow down and put a total stop to the spinning wheels and the vehicle.

Since brake rotors can carry out this function – slowing the vehicle using friction from contact with the brake pad, they become prone to wearing out over time and, like other crucial components, need replacement.

A faulty brake rotor produces so many symptoms that inform the driver that a replacement is needed.

Also Read: Car Shakes When Braking (Why & How To Fix)

What Are Other Signs of a Bad Rotor?

Here are other signs that tell you that your rotor is bad.

1. Noisy Brakes

Noisy brakes are the most common symptom associated with bad rotors. A warped rotor ( not perfectly flat) or a worn-out rotor produces squeaking or squealing sounds.

Warped rotors usually make a squeaking sound, while worn-out rotors make a scraping noise. It is also important to remember that worn-out brake pads will also make a squealing sound.

2. Brakes Vibrations

Another sign of a bad rotor is excess vibration or pulsation. Brake pedals vibrate irregularly when the rotors are warped or worn. The vibration can also be felt through the chassis or steering wheel.

Additionally, the pedals have this pulsation when it is stepped on due to warped rotors. This happens because the pedal no longer has direct contact with the rotor surface.

3. Increased Stopping Distances

Grooves and scoring would reduce the working effect of the rotor, i.e., slowing the vehicle, and as well cause pulsation, which will be directly felt in the brake pedal.

Additionally, the pedal’s inability to interact with the rotor will give the impression that the vehicle won’t stop because of the ensuing vibration.

If the vehicle refuses to stop or its stopping distance increases, it could be a dangerous threat, especially when the driver has no other option than to make an urgent stop.

Rotors are one of the major components of the braking system and, therefore, very crucial to the vehicle’s handling characteristics and overall safety.

If your brake rotors are worn out, get an expert to inspect your vehicle to be aware if you need to replace the brake rotors.

4. Crack on the Rotor

how to tell if rotor is bad

Excessively high temperatures will cause cracks and gouges to develop in the rotors. This heat causes the rotors to produce dents on the surface.

These cracks do not affect the brake rotors as long as they remain on the surface. But if it goes deeper, it poses higher risks and may be a symptom of a rotor breaking in half.

It is only necessary to replace tires when they reach their tread limit, but this is not the case with rotors. Rotors require replacement as soon as a fault is detected rather than at the point of runout.

Even before that stage is reached, you might have experienced a whole lot of inconveniences stopping your car.

Continuous driving even with a detected bad rotor is absurd and proven dangerous.

5. Score Marks or Grooves on the Rotor

Grooves or visual score marks on the rotor are another sign that a rotor is bad or faulty.

The rotors having constant contact with the brake pads will bring out these score marks over time.

Usually, rotors are designed to be very thick, but the thickness wears down over time.

6. Oversensitive/Insensitive Brakes

If your vehicle features hydraulically-operated disc brakes, observing their behavior at an early stage can save you a lot of money on the cost of replacing worn-out parts.

In this symptom, two situations can occur: First, you almost touch the brake pedal, yet the brakes still engage; second, you depress the pedal so hard that it snaps off before it engages.

Regardless of which out of the two situations you notice when you press the brakes,

It implies that either your rotors are bad, brake fluid is low, brake lines filled with air, thin brake pads, or a much larger problem that involves the hydraulic system.

7. Strong Chemical Fumes

Chemical odors that come out from your car indicate an overheated brake or faulty and locked calipers), leading to your brake failing.

If calipers are faulty, they can place a lot of stress on the rotor, making it warped or off-balanced.

In most cases, you see smoke from the affected steering wheel, but the brake rotors are responsible for the unpleasant odor caused by overheating but will not emit any smoke.

If you experience any of these situations, pull over and let your brakes cool. After that, continue driving but be sure to moderately apply the brakes. Replace the brake pads, rotors, and calipers as soon as you reach a safe location.

Also Read: Squeaking Noise While Driving but Not Brakes Applied (Solved)

How to Tell if Rotor Is Bad by Checking the Rotor?

How to Tell if Rotor Is Bad by Checking the Rotor

There are so many ways to find out a bad rotor. One is a physical indication, which is vibrations in the car, which can be is caused by several reasons.

Alternatively, a brake rotor can be physically inspected and measured. To begin, the tires and brakes have to be removed.

Step 1

Take the vehicle for a test drive.

Step 2

On a deserted highway, accelerate to roughly 30 miles an hour and apply your brakes strongly, do not stop or squeal the tires.

When braking hard at low speeds, warped rotors emit a striking pulsation.

The brake pedal and wheels feel the pulsation in the case of front brake rotors. The vibration is felt through the pedal and the vehicle undercarriage for rear brake rotors.

Step 3

Accelerate to 60 miles an hour (more on a deserted road) perform the exact test as Step 2. Thus, if there is slight warping of the rotors, it will only be noticeable when braking at high speeds.

Step 4

Park on a leveled surface and then lose the steering wheel nuts using a lug nut wrench which should be only 1/4 turn anti-clockwise.

Step 5

Raise the vehicle with a jack and jack stands to support it. Take off the tires and wheel nuts.

Step 6

If your brake rotor has an outboard surface, you should check it carefully for rust pits, uneven surfaces, and scoring marks. These factors contribute vastly to brake vibrations.

Step 7

Take off the bolts holding the caliper with a wrench. Then remove the caliper from the brake rotor.

Remove the caliper bolts with a hand wrench. Remove the caliper from the rotor. While some vehicles come with floating calipers that leave brake pads at the caliper anchor, others have fixed calipers with brake pads together with the caliper and a vital knuckle.

Step 8

Examine the front rotors (the internal spins) for durability and thickness. In extreme circumstances, front finned rotors are prone to deterioration by corrosion and dust to the level of being no longer safe. You will notice this when the rotor fins crumble by direct contact.

The thickness of a brake rotor should be measured with a rotor micrometer and compared with the vehicle specifications on a brake rotor specification chart. For every vehicle, rotors are thin before they need to be replaced.

Check out this video for more tips on how to check the rotor

Related Questions – How to Tell if Rotor Is Bad

What Happens if I Put New Brake Pads on Bad Rotors?

If you put new brake pads on bad rotors, the brake pad won’t be able to contact the rotor surface. This will lower your vehicle stopping proficiency. Grooves developed in a faulty rotor act like a shredder or hole-puncher, damaging the pad substance as it is being pressed on the rotor.

What Does a Worn Rotor Sound Like?

A worn rotor makes a squealing noise, especially when the brakes are applied. Wrapped brake rotors may cause squealing, or squeaking sounds when braking. Plus, they make a grinding or scraping sound when worn down or warped. Worn-out brake pads will also cause squealing noise.

How Often Do You Replace Brake Rotors?

About 50,000 and 70,000 miles. Ideally, you should replace your brake pads every 10,000 to 20,000 miles, as well as your brake rotors every 50,000 to 70,000 miles.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace Your Rotors?

In general, you can expect rotor and brake pad replacements to cost about $250-$400 per axle. It could be much higher for pick-up vehicles under heavy loads that tow or haul a lot.

Do You Have to Replace All 4 Rotors at Once?

Replacing all 4 rotors at once is unnecessary,but we recommend that the pads and rotors be replaced as a set for each, front or back, simultaneously. If the rear brakes need replacement and the front brake are still in perfect order, there’s no need to replace the front brakes.

How Long Will Brakes Last With Bad Rotors?

Your brakes won’t last a long time if you have bad rotors. If you notice any signs of bad rotors on your vehicle, take your car to an auto repair shop to get a replacement immediately.

What Causes Brake Rotors to Go Bad?

Driving for a long period on damaged brake pads will cause malfunctioning of the rotors. In some cases, metal-on-metal contact may occur when braking as the brake pads wear down. As a result of this contact between brake pads and rotors, deep grooves will be formed on the rotors.

Are Brake Rotors Easy to Replace?

Modern braking systems are complicated, and though brake pads and rotor replacement seem straightforward, things might go wrong if you are uncertain of what you’re doing.

Will Bad Rotors Affect Gas Mileage?

No, Bad rotors do not affect gas mileage. It only impairs your car’s ability to brake and come to a stop.

Can You Drive With a Bad Rotor?

Once a failing brake or warped rotors is suspected, at this point, you shouldn’t drive anymore, and a mechanic has to be contacted immediately. Failure will lead to brake system failure, which may be dangerous to yourself and those around you.

Conclusion –¬†How to Tell if Rotor Is Bad

Faulty rotors are known for their noises – they are capable of making squeal noises. Excessive vibration from the brakes, the inability of the vehicle to stop, or increased stopping distance are also signs that tell you that the rotor is bad.

If you regularly experience any of these signs or have a malfunctioning rotor, you should avoid driving your car.

Consequently, it is best to replace the warped rotors as soon as possible or get the problem handled by a skilled mechanic if it is complex.

Inevitably, the best quality rotors are also bound to decline. However, good driving habits, regular inspection, and severe adherence to organized maintenance will go a long way in seeing that pricey repairs and brake system damage that are likely to occur in the future are prevented.

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