When should you replace rotors and brake pads?

The ability to accelerate and steer freely is vital to vehicle performance. Equally crucial is being able to stop the car to avoid collisions and obstacles. Brake pads and rotors are vital components of braking mechanisms that need to be maintained and serviced.

Drivers may wonder how frequently they have to replace brake parts. Car and Driver magazine states brake pads are among the most crucial braking components. Brake pads create the friction that helps stop a car when they are pressed against the brake rotor, also known as the brake disc. It's in drivers' best interests to ensure that brake pads, as well as rotors, always function properly and are replaced before their effectiveness is compromised.

Replacing brake pads

Brake pads are made from different materials, but all will wear down over time, losing a portion of material every time the brakes are used. Eventually brake pads will not be able to generate enough friction to stop the vehicle quickly. Industry experts generally recommend brakes be replaced every 20,000 to 60,000 miles. Since that is a wide mileage range, drivers can listen for squealing noises or grinding sounds or feel for vibrations when deploying the brakes. Each of those signs may indicate brakes need to be replaced.

Replacing rotors

Like brake pads, rotors also will wear out over time. Brake rotors must meet a certain thickness to be considered safe. If they are below that thickness, then they must be fully replaced. Some drivers opt to have their rotors resurfaced. This means removing any grooves, hotspots or anomalies on the rotors that can cause uneven wear of the brake pads. However, if the rotors are too thin, they cannot be resurfaced, as this removes some additional rotor material. Rotors can only be resurfaced once before replacement. Some vehicles have rotors that cannot be resurfaced at all.

Rotors can go thousands of miles before they need to be replaced, but vibrations while braking and squeaking noises are usually indicative that rotors need to be checked and/or replaced. Even though brake pads and rotors may wear out at different intervals, many automotive professionals advise replacing rotors when brake pads are changed for optimal performance and safety.

Brakes are an essential safety component. Work with a qualified mechanic to have brake pads and rotors serviced before wear and tear adversely affects driver safety and vehicle performance.

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