Warped Brake Rotors: Symptoms, Servicing, and Safety

Keeping your brakes in good health is one of the most critical elements of ongoing auto maintenance because it directly affects your safety while driving on the road. One could argue that all the parts of your vehicle are equally important in that respect; however, if brake components fail then it’s only a matter of time before your car becomes totally unsafe to drive. One brake component that can wear out over time and under certain conditions is the brake rotors. In this article we’ll go over how brake rotors become damaged, how to recognize failing rotors, and what you can do to either service them or prevent them from becoming warped all together.

What do brake rotors do?

Before explaining the importance of your brake rotors, here’s a little refresher course in what parts your brake system consists of:

  • Brake pads
  • Brake drums
  • Brake calipers
  • Brake lines
  • And brake rotors

These components are essential to overall brake health on their own; however, in combination, these parts greatly affect one another and largely determine if another part will fail or not over time.

Brake rotors are metal discs that adhere to your car’s wheels. They help the brake pads grab onto something to generate enough friction to stop each wheel independently. Here’s how it works in a nutshell: the brake pedal is depressed, then the brake caliper grips the brake pad, which grabs onto the brake rotor, slowing the wheels down. While it’s true that brake rotors don’t usually need to be replaced that often, if the brake pads or brake calipers become too worn then it can expedite the wear process of the rotors.

When to replace the rotors

Determining when to replace your brake rotors is somewhat tricky, as every individual situation is unique. Although every vehicle and driver varies, brake rotors should usually be replaced between the 30-50k-mile points. Here are just a few things that factor into how often you’ll need to replace your brake rotors:

  • Auto maintenance diligence – regularly staying on top of your routine brake maintenance tasks (e.g. checking brake fluid, pads, and calipers)
  • Individual driving habits – frequently applying the brakes aggressively, forcefully, or suddenly
  • Individual driving conditions – especially traffic-filled areas with a lot of stop-and-go movement (i.e. more frequent brake application)
  • Quality of brake components – sometimes drivers opt for cheaper brake pads, which often backfires
  • Quality of brake servicing by automotive professionals – not all automotive shops take pride in their work or perform thorough repairs
  • Vehicle age – older vehicles may simply be due for rotor replacement

Warning signs of brake (rotor) issues

What’s important to know is that just observing your vehicle’s symptoms and bringing it in for inspection/repair can often prevent brake rotor warping. Furthermore, rotor warping can often cause other brake parts to fail, so it’s important to perform inspections frequently. Here are some signs of brake issues that you should be aware of to prevent or address brake rotor warping:

  • Odd smells or noises coming from the brakes
  • Differences in how your brake pedal feels when you depress it
  • A strong vibration while braking
  • Brake light in dashboard comes on
  • Rotors are noticeably warped or damaged upon inspection

Car Wheel Brake Disc What it comes down to is that your brakes are essential for helping to maintain your safety as well as that of your passengers. Keeping your brakes in good health prevents auto accidents, helps you feel more stable and secure in your car – especially on longer drives – and prevents you from having to tackle expensive brake repairs in the future.

Here at BMW Mercedes Service, we take special care when attending to brake issues for our clients because their safety is our first priority. For years, the residents of Sherman Oaks, Tarzana, Encino, Studio City, Van Nuys, and Valley Village, CA, have trusted our expertise in BMW, MINI, and Mercedes vehicles because we dedicate the time and effort it takes to keep our clients safe on the road and enjoying their vehicles’ full potential at all times. If you have recently encountered symptoms of premature brake wear, or would like to get started on a brake maintenance regimen, please call one of our helpful German automotive specialists today.

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