How To Diagnose Failing Brake Rotors

Brake rotors are designed to last between 20K and 70K miles (most commonly 50K miles). That’s why, as a GM car owner, you want to be aware of the signs of a failing rotor and be able to diagnose the issue before it really affects your car’s braking performance.

Why Brake Rotors Go Bad

Worn rotors

Brake rotors aren’t designed to last forever. They usually wear out after about 50K miles. They can wear out earlier or later than that. It all depends on your driving style. If you ride your brakes or tow, your rotors will likely wear out faster than normal. The following factors contribute to premature brake rotor failure, as well:

  • Bad brake pads with no friction material left
  • Worn or seized caliper guide pins
  • Sticking caliper piston

Telltale Signs of a Bad Brake Rotor

If you have a hunch that your rotors may be on the brink of failure, it helps to pay special attention to your GM’s braking performance to see if you can spot any of the common symptoms of failing rotors:

  • Increased stopping distances
  • Grinding noise along with stopping that is not smooth
  • Crunching noise
  • Vibrating feeling in the brake pedal

Checking Your Brake Rotors

Check rotors

The best way to determine if your brake rotors have gone bad is to visually inspect them. It’s pretty easy to do that. You just have to lift your car, remove the wheels, and then carefully inspect the brake rotors.

What to Look For

When you have one of your rotors in front of you, thoroughly inspect it for the following issues:

  • Burn marks (also called hot spots)
  • Ripples (the best way to detect them is to feel the rotor)
  • Rust
  • Cracks
  • Grooves
  • Uneven wear (Look for one rotor plate being thinner than the other.)

Be sure not to touch your rotors without gloves because if they’re scratched up, metal shavings can get into your hands.

Measuring Your Rotors

Sometimes a rotor looks fine, but it’s actually bad because it has gotten too thin to function normally with brake pads. Sometimes the rotor is warped but it’s hard to tell just by looking at it or even feeling it.

So in order to thoroughly inspect your rotors, you want a caliper tool on hand. It helps you measure the thickness of the rotor. To find out the minimum thickness of your rotors, you can either check the edge of the rotor, where the minimum thickness is sometimes stamped, or look in your owner’s manual.

While measuring your rotors, be sure to measure it in several spots to ensure that the thickness is uniform. If it’s not uniform, then you need a new one.

Finding the Right Replacement Rotors for Your GM Vehicle

OEM rotor GM

If it turns out that you’re driving with bad rotors, you need to replace them right away. Neglecting to replace your rotors can result in brake failure, which is really dangerous.

You can replace your rotors at home with basic tools and a couple of hours of your time. Obviously, you would need replacement rotors. You can score genuine OEM brake rotors at wholesale pricing at our website! Do a search on your GM model in our catalog and see if we have rotors for your car in our inventory.

Please contact us if you have any questions or if you need help finding the right replacement rotors for your GM.