It is important to make sure that your car runs as it should, but it is even more important to ensure that it can stop in a safe and timely manner.
The brake pads and rotor work together to stop a car that weighs thousands of pounds within a few seconds and to help it decelerate when necessary.
Both brake pads and rotors will eventually wear down and will need to be replaced. 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 need to replace them, and what the replacement cost should be.
Let’s start with the basics first!
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What Are Brake Pads And Rotors?
Although they are both 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 the main difference is usually the material they are made of.
Brake pads mostly come in three different varieties: organic, semi-metallic, and ceramic. Each of these types has its own pros and cons.
To learn more about the differences, take a look at our article Brake Pad Replacement And Repair Cost.
When the brake pedal is pressed, the brake caliper presses the brake pads, which come into contact with the rotors and slow down the wheels.
The brake rotors are circular discs made of either iron or carbon-ceramic. Many people mistake iron rotors for steel rotors. The brake rotors of a typical car will usually be made of iron.
You will find carbon-ceramic rotors in most supercars. They are more durable than regular iron rotors but far more expensive.
The rotors also come in different “patterns”. These include:
- Blank & Smooth
- Drilled & Slotted
You should 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 at 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 allow you to enjoy their respective benefits. However, for most cars and drivers, 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 more slowly as the rotational speed of the rotor decreases.
This allows the driver to slow down or come to a complete stop.
When Should You Replace The Brake Pads And Rotors?
As previously mentioned, brake pads are changed in shorter intervals than rotors. Generally, the brake pads should be replaced every 40,000 to 50,000 miles.
When it comes to rotors, they should be changed every 70,000 miles. For both brake pads and rotors, the interval may increase or decrease depending on driving habits, driving conditions, and other factors.
You do not need to change either of these components until there are signs that they are due for a replacement.
Where brake pads are concerned, they usually feature physical or mechanical indicators. For example, most brake pads will start producing a squealing sound when they are due for a replacement.
Regarding brake rotors, they may also emit a sound when you apply the brake. On visual inspection, you may see grooves. Your rotors may also cause vibrations that can be felt through the pedal when braking.
When replacing the brake pads and rotors, you do not need to change all of them. Replacing both on the same axle will suffice.
Also, as brake pads wear out faster than rotors, you do not necessarily 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 them on three separate occasions.
When it comes to replacing brake rotors, regular blank and smooth rotors cost between $40 to $90 a piece, while the labor cost is between $100 and $150 per axle.
In total, replacing both brakes and rotors on one axle will cost between $250 and $430. The cost will be influenced by the brand you are buying as well as the labor cost.
The brake pads and rotors of your car have a close relationship and share the same goal: decelerating and stopping the car.
Both the pads and rotors wear out in time, but pads tend to deteriorate faster due to their material and size.
There are different material 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 pads must be replaced. It is impossible to provide an exact interval for both the components as it depends on the driving conditions as well as your driving style.
As a rough estimate, brake pads should be replaced every 40,000 to 50,000 miles, while rotors are usually due a change after 70,000 miles.
When pads have deteriorated, they will usually emit a mechanical sound indicating that they are due to be changed. They can also be visually inspected where you will 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 that a change is needed.
As pads are the cheaper of the two components, it may be wise to change the pads when changing the rotors. This will also allow you to save on some of the labor costs.
When replacing brake pads or rotors, you should change both on the same axle to ensure even and smooth braking, as well as tire wear.
The cost of replacing brake pads and rotors will vary depending on the brand you choose and where the work is done. OEM parts and dealerships are usually the more expensive option.
Generally, replacing the brake pads and rotors on one axle will cost you between $250 and $430.