How Do I Know If My Rotors Are Warped?

How your vehicle handles is how you can tell whether your rotors are warped but don’t stop reading just yet. A crucial part of your braking system, the rotors are also a visible part. We know you’re reading this on your phone or pad so head out to the garage and get down on your knees. Shine a flashlight through one of the rims. See those round discs? Those are your rotors, and Heath’s Auto Service knows how to inspect and replace them.

Signs Your Rotors Are Damaged

If you notice your steering wheel or brake pedal wobble when you apply the brakes to slow down or stop, chances are your rotors are warped. If the warp isn’t too bad, you might not really notice the shaking. If the warp is serious, you’ll definitely feel the vibration. Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to vehicle maintenance, which is why manufacturers recommend regular brake inspections. This helps mechanics see the health of your rotors.

Why Do the Rotors Warp?

As with any machine part, usage eventually wears the rotors down. You will have to replace them at some point in the life of your vehicle if you plan to keep it for a long time, but rotors last much longer than brake pads do. Brake pads last anywhere from 30,000 to 70,000 miles, depending on how you drive, and you should expect your rotors to last anywhere from 90,000 to 210,000 miles… depending on how you drive.

Why do we keep saying that? Because driving habits directly affect the lifespan of brake rotors. If you spend a lot of your time in stop-and-go traffic or you love to put the pedal to the metal and stop quickly, you stand a much better chance of warping your rotors than someone who does a lot of highway driving and brakes slowly. Riding your brakes can also warp the rotors, so keep your left foot on the floor. Don’t be tempted to rest it on the brake pedal.

Another common cause of warped rotors is brake system failure. Imagine your rear brakes aren’t working as they should and as a result, your front brakes must work harder to stop your vehicle. This can warp the rotors. There is also a mechanism that operates your brake pads, the caliper, and if it sticks, it can warp the rotors. Finally, if a mechanic didn’t torque a newly-installed wheel properly, this can warp the rotors.

What’s Next?

If you do end up with warped rotors, you have two repair options depending on the damage. If the rotors still have a lot of life left in them, it might be wise to have them smoothed by a machine to straighten them out again. This is a viable option if there is still enough thickness on the rotors to support shaving them down just a little. If there isn’t enough thickness, i.e. they’re old, then it’s best to replace them.

If you suspect you have warped rotors or perhaps another issue with the brake system in your car, stop by Heath’s Auto Service today. We help customers throughout the Flagstaff, AZ, area and we can be reached by telephone at 928-214-8150.


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