Top 14 Symptoms of Bad Rotors

Symptoms of Bad Rotors

The brake pads and the brake calipers are the metal components of your vehicle's brake system. Disc brake rotors are made of metal.

The brake pads are attached to the wheel hub, and when the brake pads squeeze against the rotor, the wheels stop turning.

The process of braking also causes a lot of heat and friction. Over time, the brake pads and rotor will eventually wear out.

Although regular servicing can help identify any issues, some symptoms can indicate that the rotor might need to be replaced or inspected. The article covers the various symptoms of bad rotors.

Symptoms of Bad Rotors

The following are symptoms of bad rotors:

1. Pulsating Brake Pedal

This symptom is similar to the other issues mentioned in this list, such as warped or bent brake pads.

Although the pulsation is mainly felt in the brake pedal, it can also be felt in other parts of the vehicle.

One of the reasons why this might happen is that the brake pads might be approaching the end of their lifespan.

One of the most critical steps to prevent premature rotor damage is ensuring that your brake components can adequately dissipate heat.

Since the brake system creates a lot of friction-based heat to stop your vehicle, the brake parts must stay cool. If they do, the excessive heat could cause the rotor to buckle or even break.

Cheaper brake components might not have enough material to dissipate heat, and they might add salt to the injury.

Cross-drilled, ceramic, or stainless-steel brake rotors are the best alternatives due to their high tolerance to heat.

2. Screeching After Brake Pad Installation

Noise from the brake pads is not considered normal, even though new pads might take some time to settle in.

This could be caused by the rotor having a glazed surface or the edges being burnt due to excessive heat. After inspecting the rotor, you might also notice a dark ring or blue-colored marks.

If you last had your new pads installed long ago, you must take them easily on the brakes whenever you're driving at high speeds.

3. Vibration in the Steering Wheel

When you hit the brakes, your pads exert pressure against the flat surface of the rotor, which then becomes extremely hot. This can cause the rotor to become bent, uneven, or even warped over time.

The two components of a brake system are attached to the same spindle, which is connected to the wheels.

If the smooth ride of the rotor is lost, it will affect the steering wheel's feel. This could also cause the vehicle to feel uneven.

4. Out-Of-Round Rotors

Besides these, regular brake inspections can also help identify bad rotor symptoms.

Drivers can distinguish between a good and bad rotor by performing regular inspections. They usually find a lip around the edge of the rotor or a thinning of the surface.

To determine if your vehicle's rotor faces are out-of-round or require a re-surface, you'll need to have the proper tools available.

These include measuring devices that will help you determine the thickness and roundness of the rotor face.

5. Grinding When Hitting Brakes

Another way to determine if your vehicle's brake system is in bad condition is by hearing a loud noise from the pads that have already worn down.

The brake pads can start to chip into the rotor's surface, creating sound. Pebbles could also cause this or other debris to get stuck inside the brake pads.

If the noise persists even after you have replaced the brake pads, it's most likely that your vehicle's brake system is in bad condition and requires immediate replacement.

You should seek a professional evaluation if you suspect that foreign material is causing the noise. Changing the brake pads can also help prevent the rotor from getting damaged.

6. Regular Brake Noises

It's common to assume that a bad rotor causes persistent brake noise. However, this is only sometimes the case.

It can be caused by a warped rotor or a vehicle left in an available moisture area.

The latter type of sound usually goes away after a while, and it can be prevented by keeping the car inside during certain weather conditions.

When squealing or squeaking occurs, this could indicate that your vehicle's brake pads are badly worn out. A buildup of brake dust or a dirty vehicle could also cause it.

When this happens, it's important to immediately change the pads as it can pose a safety risk to you and your vehicle. Also, using the pads could cause a buildup of brake material on the rotor.

Another sign of worn pads and rotors is scraping, which could lead to deep edges or grooves forming.

7. Corrosion

The development of rust can usually be expected during the winter or the rainy season due to the buildup of moisture in the vehicle's brake system components.

However, it's a different story for vehicles stored in the garage. If you notice that the outer edge of your brake rotor is starting to rust, it's important to replace these components immediately.

Rough braking and grinding noises can occur if the rotor surface is not protected from corrosion. In addition, pitting can occur in the contact area, brake pads, and vanes.

If the brake rotors are stuck due to excessive oxidation, it could be difficult for a mechanic or the owner to remove and replace them.

8. Blue Discoloration

The surface of your vehicle's brake rotors can also become blue due to improper alignment, uneven wear, and rotor cracks.

This discoloration is usually caused by excessive heat caused by riding the brakes, improper heat dissipation by the stock components, and incorrect alignment.

When you notice that your vehicle's brake pads and rotors are starting to look blue, you must perform a brake inspection.

To avoid potential issues, you must identify the components that need to be replaced.

If the discoloration persists, it's recommended that you replace the entire brake system with new ceramic pads and cross-drilled slotted rotors.

9. Cracked Rotors

After being subjected to high temperatures, the brake rotor can develop cracks or gouges.

These can then form on its surface, which can lead to the formation of a dent. Although these cracks do not affect the functioning of the brake rotor, deep cracks can lead to issues.

If you plan on using the brake rotor to the point of runout, then it could be better to do so. Even before you reach this stage, you might have already experienced issues with your vehicle.

Using the brake rotor to the point of runout can lead to various problems. It would be dangerous and unfeasible to continue driving with a broken rotor.

10. Deep Grooves or Score Marks

The appearance of the brake rotor is the most obvious answer to the question of what a bad rotor looks like.

A healthy one has a smooth surface ideal for its contact with the pads. This ensures that the latter stays within the rotor.

A brake rotor in good condition will have bad contact with the pads, which can lead to issues with the vehicle's brake performance.

Although surface imperfections can accumulate over time, they can sometimes manifest due to abuse or driving habits. The groove or scoring on the face of the rotor should be replaced immediately.

11. Longer Stopping Distances

Without any obvious signs, such as a faint smell or touch, it's easy to tell if the brake rotor is bad.

A vehicle's overall braking system might be compromised if the brake rotor is badly damaged or warped.

This issue could manifest in the car's inability to stop properly at an acceptable distance.

The brake rotor might fade during high-speed driving or steep descents.

Contaminants can cause it on the pads, then slide over the rotor surface.

This issue can also result from prolonged use, especially when handling heavy loads or in situations with unpredictable braking.

Decrepit rotors eventually chip and have uneven surfaces, reducing the brake system's efficiency.

12. Sensitive Brakes

This issue detected early on can help minimize the cost of repairs and replacement parts.

One side of this issue is that even though you barely touch the brake pedal, the brake still engages.

The other side of this issue is that you must completely depress the pedal to get it to respond.

If you're experiencing these issues while driving, it could mean your vehicle's hydraulic system is not working properly.

These could also affect the brake pads or rotor. Although these do not directly affect the brake system, they can eventually lead to issues.

13. Inconsistent Braking

Some possible causes of vehicles only pulling to one side when using the brake pads are a faulty brake hose or a faulty caliper.

Determining whether or not the rear or front brakes are defective can be challenging at first, but once you do it, it becomes easier to identify the issue.

14. Strong Chemical Fumes

The chemical odor in your vehicle could signal that the system is defective or that the brake rotor is not working properly.

Faulty brake pads can cause the rotor to become off-balanced or warped, and smoke can sometimes appear from the wheel.

However, the pads have overheated if the brake rotors smell strong but have no smoke.

If you suspect one of these conditions might cause your issue, pull over and let the brake cool down first.

After a few minutes, continue driving while using the system in moderation.

If you're in a safe location, you should immediately replace the brake pads, rotor, and calipers.