If you feel your vehicle vibrating when you’re braking, or if you don’t stop in as short a distance as you used to, it may be time to have your brakes checked. All newer vehicles have disc brakes in the front, and more manufacturers are using disc brakes all around (instead of an older technology called drum brakes), so there’s a pretty good chance at some point you’ll find yourself facing a disc brake repair when yours begin to wear out.
Before we go any further, here’s how disc brakes work. If you’ve ever had a bicycle with hand brakes, you know there is a caliper that pushes pads on each side of your bicycle wheel when you squeeze the brake handle. Disc brakes are similar, but there’s a metal disc (called a brake rotor) there instead of the bike wheel’s rim. In disc brakes, the vibration you feel when you are stopping is often because the surface of the rotor is not flat, or the rotors have an uneven thickness.
Sometimes, the rotors can be re-surfaced or “turned” (basically shaving them off until they are straight and even). But newer vehicles are using thinner, lighter rotors with a slightly different construction. So, when the rotors are not true, shaving the metal off may make them thinner than the manufacturer deems safe. The only option for them is to replace the rotors.
In most cases, it’s wise to replace the brake pads when replacing the rotors because the rotor damage was either caused by worn pads or the damaged rotor has caused uneven pad wear.
Some drivers will decide to replace rotors with the same type that was on the vehicle originally. Others may decide to upgrade with premium rotors that provide better performance than the original equipment. Depending on your vehicle and driving habits, your NAPA AutoCare Service Advisor can suggest the high-quality brake parts that are the best choice for you and your vehicle.