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Brake rotors are yet another consumable item in the braking system that require regular inspection and maintenance. Although signs of wearing are not always as obvious as brake pads, visual and physical clues are typically evident. Shaking or pulsating felt through the steering wheel while coming to a stop are often signs of worn or warped rotors that need replacing.
In high performance applications, rotors are typically replaced at the same time as brake pads. Depending upon your actual driving style, this schedule may vary. At the least, we recommend having your rotors turned when using new brake pads. Since brake pads must be bedded to the rotors, having old rotors turned allows the new pads to bond with the surface more effectively.
Similar to brake pad compounds, there are many choices for rotor replacements. The majority of factory brake rotors are known as blank rotors. That is, they do not have any slots or holes drilled into them. Blank rotors are often the least expensive, yet most effective for the majority of brake setups. Aftermarket blank rotors from reputable manufacturers can often be had for significantly less than equivalent factory replacement rotors.
Other common choices are slotted rotors, drilled rotors, or even slotted and drilled rotors. These styles are popular with aftermarket brands, but offer little performance advantage over the basic blank rotors. Modern vented rotor setups do not benefit quite as much from these varieties of rotors. If any, we recommend slotted rotors. Drilled rotors have shown signs of cracking and quicker fatigue over time. In racing applications, where rotors are replaced in very short intervals, these variants do offer advantages in cooling and weight. However, most street cars, which may see tens of thousands of miles on one set of rotors, benefit most from blank or slotted choices.
Certain rotor manufacturers offer various coatings. These coatings, usually found on the top hat of the rotor, simply prevent the oxidation of rotors when exposed to water, sun, and other natural elements. These coatings are purely aesthetic and not required for optimal performance. Other styles, such as those that are frozen during production, usually do not offer enough of a benefit to warrant the increased cost for these consumable items.
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