How Long Do Rotors Last: How Often Should You Replace Them?

“How long do rotors last?” is an important question car owners ask all the time. With how critical safety brakes are, this is a question that all car owners must know the answer to.

Brake Rotors in a Vehicle ~ Ran When Parked

While there is no single answer to that question, there is a range that offers valuable information. There are also other considerations affecting the exact length of time rotors last, so continue reading to check them out!

How Long Do Brake Rotors in a Vehicle Last?

Brake rotors in a vehicle can last anywhere between 20,000 and 70,000 miles for most vehicles. This range assumes that driving conditions and habits are regular and there are no extreme irregularities. The exact length of time that brake rotors will last depends on several factors.

There is no consensus on the number of miles brake rotors can go before being replaced. This is well reflected in the pretty broad range of 20,000 to 70,000 miles. However, most drivers will not have to replace their brake rotors until after crossing 50,000 miles.

If 50,000 miles is to be taken as the standard, considering an average driver covers 14,000 miles a year, rotors are expected to last around three and a half years. In general, rotors will last anywhere from one and a half years to three years with regular driving conditions and style.

What Are the Factors Affecting the Durability of Rotors?

The factors affecting the durability of rotors include the load on the vehicle, the style and traits of the driver, the driving conditions, and the inherent quality and design of the rotors. All of these factors contribute to how long a car rotor will last.

Load on the Vehicle

The load on the vehicle determines how much pressure is exerted on the car’s braking system to get it to stop. Simply, if there are heavier weights on the car’s braking system, it will require more braking pressure to stop after applying the brakes. If the braking pressure is consistently high, the rotor will get damaged faster.

Load on the Vehicle ~ Ran When Parked

For this reason, vehicles that do a lot of towing work will need to have their rotors replaced more often. This also applies to vehicles that carry heavier loads across long distances. Nowadays, heavy vehicles that are designed for carrying more load than normal typically have a different braking system.

Driving Traits

The driving habits and style of a driver contribute to the durability of the rotors. Drivers who press on the brakes more often and with more pressure may need to get their rotors replaced faster.

Improving Driving Traits ~ Ran When ParkedWhile some of these habits are due to the environment where the car is driven, some of them are merely due to the individual driver and their style.

Driving Conditions

The environment and conditions under which a car is driven play an important role in the durability of the vehicle’s rotors.

Driving Conditions of a Car ~ Ran When Parked People that live in busy areas, like cities, may need to brake more often than people that live in areas where the roads are freer and there is much less need to brake so frequently.

Rotor Design

The way the rotor itself is manufactured can determine how long it will last. As you would imagine, more expensive vehicles will generally have rotors that are made of stronger and more quality material. These rotors will last longer than their cheaper and less standard counterparts.

What Are the Signs of a Rotor That Needs Replacement?

The signs of a rotor that needs replacement include a pulsation in brakes, the steering wheel of the vehicle vibrating when driving, squealing noises when the brakes are applied, scratches and visible damage on the rotors, and longer times to stop the car after braking.

Brake Pedal Pulsation

If you experience a pulsing feeling when you apply the brakes, your brake rotors may be damaged and need replacement.

Brake Pedal Pulsation ~ Ran When Parked

The typical causes of this pulsation are rust or grooves on the brake rotors. The rotors in both the front and back axles can cause this pulsating feeling in the brake pedals.

High-Pitched Noises When Braking

Braking should naturally come without grinding noises, and even more so when the noises are high-pitched. Having a squealing noise while braking is as definitive a sign you can get that there is a problem with the braking system. In many cases, the problem with the braking system lies in an uneven rotor.

Rotor Scratches and Grooves

Scratches on brake rotors aren’t unnatural at all, and you can start noticing them not too long after they are installed. However, when the scratches are deep and you can also observe grooves on the surface of the brake rotor, the rotor most likely needs replacing.

Rotor Scratches and Grooves ~ Ran When Parked

Since the rotors of the vehicle are not exposed, you can only observe these scratches and grooves when the rotors are removed. A perfect time for this is during wheel aligning or balancing, which usually occurs more frequently than rotor changing.

Vibrating Steering Wheel

If the steering wheel vibrates when braking, there may be a problem with the brake rotors. Usually, this may be due to the brake rotors being rusted or uneven. However, vibrations in the steering wheel are not solely due to problems with the brake rotors.

In fact, steering wheel vibrations are more associated with unbalanced tires than brake rotor problems. Therefore, this symptom is more relevant when you encounter other symptoms of brake rotor problems.

Increased Time To Stop the Vehicle

If you notice that the time it takes for your vehicle to stop after the brakes have been applied is increasingly larger, then you may need to replace brake rotors. Again, worn brake pads and rotors are not the only reason your car’s braking distance may increase, but they should be considered in the context of other symptoms.

Increased Time To Stop the Vehicle ~ Ran When Parked

There is no consensus on the time it should take for a car to stop after pressing the brake, as different cars have different times, depending on their design. However, you will be able to tell with your vehicle, as you have more experience with its response time.

How Can You Make Your Brake Rotors Last Longer?

You can make your brake rotors last longer by regularly inspecting the brakes of the vehicle and working on your driving habits. If both of these are well implemented, the car rotors can last for up to 100,000 miles, which is around seven years.

Regular Inspection of Brakes

The braking system of any vehicle requires utmost attention, and in the event that this attention is not given, the different braking components may rapidly deteriorate. For instance, with car rotors, regularly inspecting the brake pads is also important.

Therefore, in vehicles that have bad brake pads, the rotors will not last as long. This also applies vice versa, as vehicles that have bad rotors will have their brake pads developing faults faster than usual.

Improving Driving Traits

The driving style of the driver is one of the most important factors that determine the durability of the rotor. Drivers that have cultivated the bait of banging on the brakes more frequently and violently run a higher risk of their rotors getting damaged.

With that being said, improving driving habits can have a positive effect on the durability of the car rotor.

One strategy that can help is coasting, which is when the driver delays pressing the brakes and allows the vehicle to naturally slow before applying the brakes. This may require some time getting used to, but it can significantly reduce the pressure on the brakes.

Could Rear Tire Imbalance Cause Damage to Rotors and Require More Frequent Replacement?

If you notice unusual vibrations or shaking in your vehicle, it could be a sign of rear tire balance symptoms. An imbalance in the rear tires can lead to uneven wear on the rotors, causing damage and requiring more frequent replacement. It’s important to address any symptoms of tire imbalance to prevent further damage.

Should You Replace All Brake Rotors at the Same Time?

Yes, you should replace all brake rotors at the same time. This helps to ensure uniformity in the braking system and will have a positive effect on the driving experience. At the very least, ensure you replace rotors on the same side — that is, the front and the back axles.

However, it is not a must that all rotors be replaced at the same time. In unnatural events where the rotors on one side have suffered significantly more damage than other rotors, you can replace only the affected rotors.

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