How to Prevent Brake Rotor Warping

Brakes are an important part of any vehicle, car or motorcycle, and it is essential to have every component of the brakes in top working order to ensure your safety and that of your passengers. Sometimes, brake rotors can warp, causing a throbbing or pulsing sensation when you apply the car brakes and while coming to a stop.

Brake rotors warp as a result of the rotor becoming distorted; however, rotor warping can also refer to uneven wear patterns on the rotors that produce the same throb or pulse. To prevent rotors from warping, there are certain things to consider.

Install a High-Quality Brake Rotor

If your brake rotors are already warped, you need to replace them with new ones. It is best to use a brake rotor of high-quality metal and weight because these rotors remove heat more effectively than others.

The heavier metal rotor reduces the distortion from warping by stopping heat damage and allows the rotor to operate using cooler temperatures. This also prolongs the life of your brake rotor and reduces the wear and tear on your brake pads.

Install Brake Pads

If your brake rotors have been warped for a long period, you might need to consider installing new brake pads. Over time, the warped rotors cause the brake pads to wear unevenly and quicker. Be sure the new brake pads are appropriate for your vehicle; for example, ceramic pads built for high temperatures are made for racing vehicles that use extreme braking conditions. If you use these on a normal vehicle, you will cause premature wear of the rotor and a poor performance at normal speeds.

Break in the Pads and Rotors

Once you have installed new brake rotors and pads, you must break them in properly. Brake pads clean the rotor and apply the right amount of friction to stop the vehicle. Not breaking in the rotors and pads could reduce the ability of the pad to clean the rotor sufficiently. This can cause uneven wear or warping.

Each vehicle has its own regulations for break-in procedures, although general guidelines are helpful. When you are ready to break in your new rotors and pads, do so in an empty parking lot or vacant street. Always be safe.

Breaking in Brake Pads

  • Start driving and continue until you reach 40 miles per hour. Engage a hard brake once you reach 40 mph, but do not come to a complete stop. (A hard brake is where you "slam" on the brakes.)
  • Start accelerating again to 50 miles per hour and slam on the brakes again just until the ABS has been engaged (approximately 10 miles per hour). Again, do not come to a complete stop.
  • Repeat the above two steps for a total of four times.
  • So far, you should not have completely stopped yet. Accelerate to 65 miles per hour, and then take your foot off the gas and coast to 15 miles per hour. Once at 15 miles per hour, brake slowly until you come to a complete stop.
  • Park the vehicle and let the car cool off for 20 minutes.

When applying this procedure, there should not be a lot of gaps between the hard stops, meaning you should accelerate quickly. Do not come to a full stop during a hard stop, as this will imprint the pad on the rotor and cause vibration. It is normal to see smoke, smell odours, and hear squeaking sounds during this process.

Once the above process is complete, you need to drive at least 400 miles before the pads are fully embedded into the rotors and giving you optimum performance. Remember, it is important to read the manual for the brake pads and rotors, since the specific break-in procedure may be different; however, if no procedure is provided, use the one above.

Preventing Brake Rotor Warping in the Future

After the break-in procedure, it is important to prevent warping from happening again, or you might be continuously purchasing new rotors and pads before their time.

First, try to avoid driving through puddles of water. Generally, puddles are cool water, and if your brakes are heated (and they do heat quickly), the cool water will cool them off too quickly and could distort the metal.

Anytime the lug nuts on the wheels must be removed, they should be evenly tightened again. Using either the cross pattern or the star pattern, tighten the lugs so there is no uneven clamping between the wheel, rotor, and hub.

You should also clean the brakes and rotors with brake cleaner at least once a month. This will remove particles that could be embedded into the rotor surface and cause warping.

Types of Brake Rotors

There are actually quite a few rotor types, and each of these is meant to do something different. First, you have the normal rotors that came with the vehicle. These are simple rotors cast in iron and come in a variety of diameters and thicknesses.

Cross-drilled rotors are another type and have holes drilled all around them. These holes are spread out over the surface of the rotor and help the rotor cool down during hard braking situations. They are used for high-performance vehicles (race cars) because of the constant stop-and-go of these cars. These rotors are also being used in everyday vehicles because it makes an improvement on their braking; however, many vehicles cannot handle these cross-drilled rotors, and it can cause the rotor to wear more quickly. Be certain your vehicle can use these rotors before purchasing them.

Another type includes the vented rotor. These have small "veins" or vents inside the rotor that also help keep the rotor cool during the braking process. These vents are created during the casting process to uphold the integrity of the rotor. Slotted rotors are also used to cool brakes and are generally placed on an angle.

You may also find rotors that have all three of these types in one: cross drilling, slots, and vents. This allows the maximum cooling ability but is not always meant for use on regular vehicles.

How to Find Brake Rotors on DBC

If you have warped rotors, whether on a car or motorcycle, you will need to replace the brake pads and rotors before doing anything else. Utilise the DBC search bar to find brake rotors, or any other part, by typing in specific keywords, such as "brake rotors." You will probably see hundreds of thousands of options available to you, but it is easy to narrow your search. The results will include a grey box for you to select the information for your particular vehicle including year, make, model, trim, and engine. This will allow you to look at only those that will match your specific vehicle, which can be a big time saver.

You must first select a year before selecting anything else. In some cases, you can find sets, which include the brake pads and rotors for either the front or back (or both). If all the rotors need replaced, DBC is a great option.

Conclusion

The best scenario is to prevent brake rotor warping, but if you already have this problem, it is important to take care of it as soon as possible by replacing the rotors and brake pads. Consider different types of rotors to give you the best cooling brake system available for your vehicle to ensure that brakes cool properly and to guarantee there is no more warping.

After replacement, you will need to break in the rotors and pads according to the manual or the guidelines provided. To keep the rotors in the best working order, be sure to lubricate the rotors, pads, and wheel hubs properly as needed, and refrain from driving into puddles when your rotors are overheated due to excessive braking.

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