How Long Do Brake Rotors Last & How to Extend the Lifespan of Brake Rotors?

How Long Do Brake Rotors Last

Have you ever wondered how long do brake rotors last? Your car’s brakes are very important, and every day, these components take a lot of abuse. Parts of the brake will eventually wear out and may need to be replaced. 


Brake Rotors (two types of brake systems)

Brakes apply friction on both sides of the wheels. When the brakes are applied, a collective press changes kinetic or moving energy to heat. The regenerative braking transforms energy into electrical energy, which can be stored to be used later. Meanwhile, eddy current brakes use magnetic fields to transform kinetic energy to electrical current from the brake discs, rail, or blade, and this is transformed to heat.

There are two most common types of brake rotors and braking systems found in most modern type cars. As a car owner, you must find out which one is found in your car.

  • Hydraulic braking system

Hydraulic braking systems run on regular braking fluid friction and cylinders. When pressure is created within the cylinders, diethylene glycol stops the wheels from moving. Forces in a hydraulic braking system are greater compared to mechanical brakes. Also, hydraulic brakes are less likely to fail. This is because the actuator and the braking disc are directly connected, and thus, there is very little chance that these will fail.

  • Electromagnetic braking systems 

An electromagnetic braking system is used in modern as well as hybrid cars. This uses electromagnetism to stop your vehicle without friction. With an electromagnetic system, your brakes will last longer and are more reliable. This type of brakes is not prone to slippage. Also, an electromagnetic braking system is just a fraction of a regular mechanical braking system, and this is why it’s found mostly in trains and trams. 

Other types of braking systems include a servo braking system or a vacuum-assisted system and a mechanical braking system.

What Is The Average Lifetime of Brake Rotors?

Under normal conditions, the average lifespan of brake pads and rotors last from 30,000 to 70,000 miles. Factors that affect the lifespan of brake rotors include the rotor type or the design, city or rural road driving, the type of environment (salty roads, snowy roads, dry roads, etc.) and the manner how a person drives his vehicle are just some of the factors to consider.

Some mechanical problems may also affect the lifespan of brake rotors. Usually, problems like bad wheel bearings, problems with brake calipers, and using semi-metallic pads may lead to quicker rotor wear and tear. Also, uneven and over-tightening of the nuts of the rotor can lead to early warping.

Another factor that affects brake rotor life is the weight of your car. Your brakes will need to work harder if you have a heavy vehicle or your car is carrying a heavy load. Therefore, you must always consider the maximum cargo weight of your vehicle to ensure that your brake rotor works efficiently. You may need to upgrade your brakes if your vehicle frequently carries heavy loads to improve the average life of brake pads and rotors.

The Ways to Extend the Lifespan of Brake Rotors

Brake pad replacement costs from $100 to $150 for every axle. Therefore, if you can make your brake rotors and brake pads last longer, you can save money in the long run.

1. Avoid speeding

Braking at full speeds is the most common cause of early wear of brake pads and rotors. According to experts, brakes can dissipate up to 33 percent more energy when applied to a car driving at high speeds compared to those cruising at average speeds.

2. Avoid using both feet on your brakes

Don't "two-foot" brake pedals. If you press on your brake pedal with the left foot while your right remains on the accelerator, then you're headed for more brake taps. This will not stop your car but will only lead to the premature brake rotor and pad wear.

3. Avoid hurrying to stop

Save gas and brake rotor wear by simply coasting around and slowing before a stoplight. You don’t need to hurry to stop because vehicles before you are not moving. You’ll save money plus your brake pads, and brake rotors will thank you for it.

4. Drive light

As we mentioned before, driving heavy loads or over the maximum allowable weight can put a strain on your brakes. And this does not just apply to load that you carry in your car, but also vehicle customizations, which can put weight on your car. This includes heavy body panels, stereo systems, and wheels.

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5. Have your brakes checked every two years

As much as possible, have your car checked by a professional every two years. A technician may need to flush the brakes every two years, which is essential to older cars. This is since brake fluid attracts moisture. This can lead to internal corrosion and may shorten the lifespan of your rubber seals and other brake components.

When to Resurface and When to Replace Your Brake Rotors?

Brake rotors can only be re-surfaced if there is no warping, cracking, and grooves on the friction surface. You must never resurface a rotor past the minimum thickness requirements of a manufacturer. If you overlook this, the rotor may not be able to disperse heat more efficiently. This can lead to increased stopping distance and disc brake failure because of cracking.

You need to replace your brake rotors once they pass their lifespan. These need to be replaced in pairs. As much as possible, replace your brake rotors with ones made from high-quality, premium materials. These brake rotors may cost more, but are worth it since these are stronger and will wear out longer.

Usually, affordable options are made from scrap material and may only wear down quicker. These may also have inconsistent characteristics. Some are too soft, and these will only wear faster. Hard disc rotors may only be too loud and may only destroy the brake pads.

Final Words

Now that you know how long do brake rotors last, it’s time to remember when was the last time you had your brake rotors replaced? If you have a new car or your rotors were just recently replaced, then you’re all good. But if it has been more than two years and you have an older car, have it checked by a qualified technician right away.


About the Author JamesL Davis

James is a certified auto technician specializing in commercial vehicles. With 30 years of experience under his belt, James has encountered almost every type of automotive issue there is! Besides his day job at the repair shop, he is also an amateur race car driver.

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