5 Signs You Need To Replace Your Brake Rotors

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A brake rotor is the smooth silver disk you can see behind your hubcap. The brake calipers tighten on the rotor when you depress the brake pedal, slowing and stopping the vehicle. If your rotors are worn, then your car won't stop properly and you risk being in an accident. The fortunate news is that there are warning signs when the rotors need to be replaced. 

1. Squealing Sounds

Damaged rotors tend to be loud. Squeals and squeaks upon braking are the most common noises, particularly in the early days of rotor damage. Noises will become worse the longer you go without replacing the rotors. Severely damaged rotors may also make a grinding sound whenever you depress the pedal, which is a sign you need a brake job immediately.

2. Car Vibrations

Your car should come smoothly to a stop when you depress the brakes. If the car vibrates or seems to shimmy each time you begin to slow down, then rotor damage is a likely culprit. The vibrations will tend to worsen the more firmly you depress the pedal, which can make it hard to control the car if you need to slam on the brakes abruptly. 

3. Soft Stopping

A soft or spongy brake pedal is one that feels like it needs to be pushed down more firmly or all the way to the ground in order to stop the vehicle. It  feels as though you have to push it through a sponge before the brakes "grip."  Your rotors are at a dangerous level of damage if the brakes have gone soft, so immediate replacement is needed. 

4. Warning Lights

If you have an anti-lock braking system (ABS), then an ABS warning light on the dash is a sign you need to have the system checked. The reason for the light could be damaged rotors but it may also indicate other issues in the system. Some cars also have a brake warning light that comes on when the brake pads wear too low. 

5. Visible Damages

If you can see your rotor through the spokes on your car's wheels, then you may be able to actually spot developing damage. You may see grooves etched in the smooth disc of the rotor, for example. Rotors will also sometimes develop a blue tinge as a result of severe friction on the metal due to failing brakes. If anything looks off about the rotor, schedule a brake inspection. 

Contact an auto brake service if you suspect that your rotors need to be replaced.