If you’ve ever stepped on your brake pedal and felt your vehicle vibrate, that’s a signal that you shouldn’t ignore. A pulsating brake pedal is a sign that something is wrong. Braking action should be smooth, sure, and quiet, not shaky and noisy.
Most newer vehicles have disc brakes, called that because they have a round, flat disc connected to each wheel. Those discs are the rotors. Other parts called brake pads are squeezed against those discs when you press on the brake pedal.
Remember that vibration we mentioned? That can be caused by the rotor not having a straight, true surface. Rotors can heat up from friction and warp. They can become thinner from constant wear. Rotors can rust from the elements they’re exposed to, such as rain, snow ice, and salt. They can get grooves in them from so many contacts with the pads.
The signs of worn rotors are vibrations, grooves on the rotor (which you can see sometimes through open spots in the wheel) noise such as squealing or scraping when you brake, and increased stopping distance.
While it used to be common for rotors to be machined (shaved down to restore their flat surface), newer vehicles have thinner rotors, so your service adviser may suggest you replace rotors when they start showing signs of significant wear.
Brakes are important safety equipment for every vehicle. They enhance your control while driving, so it’s important that they be regularly inspected and maintained. A good time is when you have your tires rotated. A technician can then look at all components of your brakes and recommend any service you may need to keep your brakes in top shape.
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