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Brake Rotors: Inspection And Replacement

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Many home auto mechanics elect to replace their brake pads themselves. Yet those comfortable with this skill often neglect to perform an equally important task at the same time--a thorough inspection of their brake rotors. If you would like to increase your knowledge of automobile maintenance, read on. This article will teach you how to inspect your brake rotors.

Indirect Inspection

Gauging the condition of your brake rotors begins long before you ever take the wheels off to replace your brake pads. Whether you realize it or not, if you have bad rotors, your car is likely already sending you a clear signal. This might consist of such things as:

  • Vibrating steering wheel - This symptom may indicate that your rotors have become either excessively worn or warped. It will be especially apparent when attempting to brake at higher speeds.
  • Pulsating brake pedal - This is another sign of a warped rotor. Because they no longer form perfect circles, warped rotors contact the brake pads unevenly, leading to a pulsing that can be felt with your foot.
  • Grinding or scratching sounds - Special metal shims in your brake pads will cause them to squeal when it's time for replacement. If you choose to ignore this sound, before long you may notice all kinds of grinding and scratching noises. These are caused by metal parts in the brake pad digging against the surface of the rotor.

Direct Inspection

If you've noticed any of the symptoms listed above, it's important to follow up with a direct visual inspection of your brake rotors. Even if you haven't noticed any indirect signs of rotor problems, it's wise to inspect them whenever you happen to find yourself changing your brake pads. Any of the following are signs that your rotors need to be serviced or replaced:

  • Rust - There are two varieties of rotor rust: surface and corrosive rust. The more common of the two, surface rust, is fairly harmless. It won't affect the performance of your brakes and is usually wiped away when the brakes are engaged. Corrosive rust, on the other hand, can seriously affect the structural integrity of your rotors, and usually will require them to be replaced.
  • Cracks - These are one of the most common signs that your rotors are ready for replacement. This is true even if you only notice only one crack--unless you happen to be a race car driver. In that case, hairline cracks are normal and nothing to worry about. But in most cases, cracked rotors mean its time to schedule a visit to the mechanic.

For more information, contact a brake repair specialist like Doc Able's Auto Clinic Inc.