It is important to make sure that your car is running as it should, but perhaps even more important is to make sure that the car can stop in a safe manner.
The brake pads and rotor work together in stopping thousands of pounds within a few seconds and decelerating the car when needed.
Both brake pads and rotors will eventually wear down and be due for a replacement. The brake pads will need to be changed more often than rotors.
In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about brake pad and rotor replacement, including how they work, how often you should replace them, and what the replacement cost is.
Let’s get started with the essentials!
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What Are Brake Pads And Rotors?
Even though they are two different components of the braking system, they have an extremely close relationship and work in synergy together.
There are several types of brake pads as well as rotors, but they mostly differ in the material they are composed of.
Brake pads mostly come in three different varieties: organic, semi-metallic, and ceramic. All these varieties both have their pros and cons.
To know more about the differences, head down to our article Brake Pad Replacement And Repair Cost.
When the brake pedal is pressed, the brake caliper presses the brake pads which in turn come in contact with the rotors and slow down the wheels.
The brake rotors are circular discs either made of iron or carbon-ceramic. Many people mistake steel rotors for iron rotors. The brake rotors on the typical car are most commonly made from iron.
You will find carbon-ceramic rotors in most supercars. They are more durable than regular iron rotors but much more expensive.
The rotors also come in different “patterns”, these include:
- Blank & Smooth
- Drilled & Slotted
You would use the same type of rotors that are already fitted to your car. Most cars have the blank and smooth type.
Drilled rotors are more effective in dissipating water dust and heat from the rotor. Slotted rotors enable more air to flow between the brake pad and rotor, improving heat dispersion.
Combining both drilled and slotted rotors will combine both of their respective advantages, however, for most cars and drives, blank and smooth rotors are sufficient.
The rotors rotate together with the wheels. When the brake pad engages and presses down on the rotor, the wheel will rotate slower as the rotational speed of the rotor decreases.
With this principle, the driver can slow down or come to a complete halt.
When Should You Replace The Brake Pads And Rotors?
As previously mentioned, brake pads are changed in more narrow intervals than rotors. Generally, the brake pads should be changed every 40 000 to 50 000 miles.
When it comes to rotors, they should be changed every 70 000 miles. Regarding both brake pads and rotors, the interval may increase or decrease depending on driving habits, driving conditions, and more.
You do not need to change either one of these components unless there are signs that they are due for a replacement.
When it comes to brake pads, they are usually equipped with physical or mechanical indicators. For example, most brake pads will start producing a squealing sound when they are due for a replacement.
In regard to brake rotors, they may also emit a sound when applying the brake. On visual inspection, you may see grooves. Your rotors may also cause vibrations that can be felt in the pedal when braking.
When replacing the brake pads and rotors, you do not have to change all of them, changing the ones on the same axle will suffice.
Also, as brake pads wear out faster than rotors, you do not need to change the rotors when replacing the brake pads.
A new set of brake pads which includes pads for two wheels on the same axle will cost between $20 and $100, while the labor cost is around $70 to $130.
Make sure to check the state of your rotors and pistons as it is much easier to replace them all at once, instead of replacing everything on three separate instances.
When it comes to replacing brake rotors, regular blank and smooth rotors cost between $40 to $90 apiece, while the labor cost is between $100 and $150 per axle.
To summarize, replacing both brakes and rotors on one axle will cost between $250 and $430. The cost may be affected by the brand you are buying as well as the labor cost.
The brake pads and rotors of your car have a close relationship, sharing the same goal – deaccelerating and stopping the car.
Both the pads and the rotor wear off after time, but pads tend to deteriorate faster due to the material and size.
Regarding the material, there are different options for both rotors and pads. In most cars, you will find organic brake pads as well as bland and smooth rotors.
There are several signs that the rotors and the pads must be replaced. It is hard to pinpoint an exact interval for both the components as a lot depends on the driving conditions as well as driving style.
To give a rough estimate, brake pads should be replaced every 40 000 to 50 000 miles, while rotors are usually due to a change after 70 000 miles.
When pads are getting bad, most will emit a mechanical sound indicating that they are due to a change. They may also be visually inspected where you may see how much of the pads are left.
Rotors also emit a sound and produce vibrations when they are due for a change. Visually, you may notice grooves on the rotors, indicating the need for change.
As pads are the cheaper option between the two components, it may be wise to change the pads when changing the rotors. By doing that you will also be saving a bit of the labor cost.
When changing brake pads or rotors, they should be changed on the same axle to get even and smooth braking, as well as tire wear.
The cost of replacing brake pads and rotors vary by the brand you are choosing and where the work is done. OEM parts and dealerships are usually the more expensive option.
Generally, to replace the brake pads and rotors on one axle will cost you between $250 and $430.