Machining Rotors: A Case for Replacing Your Brakes

What are brake rotors?

Brake rotors are large metal discs that are visible behind the wheels of a car. They spin alongside the wheels so that when the brakes are engaged, the brake pads press down on the rotors creating friction to slow down or stop the vehicle. The process of slowing down and stopping generates a great amount of heat and air vents between the middle of the rotor aid in dissipating the heat created by the friction from the rotor and brake pads. A rotor that is in good shape should be able to dissipate this heat quickly to ensure no brake fading or overheating of brake pads occurs.

How do you know if your brake rotors are warped?

When your brake rotors are showing signs of wear, you may hear excessive squeaking or grinding as the brakes are applied; you might even experience a vibration in the steering wheel and or the pedal. The vibration is caused by a warped brake rotor. The metal has actually contorted and is now sending feedback through the body of the car when braking. Once this starts the rotor has been compromised and vibration will continue to get worse. The rotors will need to be replaced.

The difference between machining rotors and replacing rotors

Customers who have warped rotors often find that machining them are a cheap, quick fix. Machining rotors actually takes of layers of metal material and restores flat, smooth surfaces to provide the proper friction needed, minimizing noise-producing vibrations and allowing for maximum pad contact. But, the rotors will inevitably warp because they’re thinner and don’t dissipate heat as well. This excessive heat will also compromise the brake pad material. The brake pads will break down faster and wear out before they should. Machining rotors may be less expensive upfront, but the maintenance and repair are more costly in the long run; if you’re at the point where machining your rotors makes sense, you’re at the point where a rotor replacement will soon be necessary. Most shops charge anywhere between $200-$275 to machine rotors and replace one set of pads per axle. While inexpensive, the caveat here is that, first, the shops will only be temporarily solving the problem by machining the rotors, and second, they typically repair with low-grade brake pads—this approach is not a long-term solution, it’s a band-aid fix.

Why Brakes to Go only replaces rotors

At Brakes to Go, we never machine rotors—we only recommend replacing rotors. Customers are often under the impression that machining rotors will solve their problem for less, and are resistant to spend any additional money on something that doesn’t seem necessary right away, like a full replacement over a repair. While the price is slightly higher upfront, you’re paying for a better, longer-lasting product—and superior service to boot! To replace rotors, we typically charge between $50-$100 more than what it would cost to machine them. Call us today to discuss your repair and receive a free quote.