Like your tires and your battery, your car’s brakes will eventually
wear out and need replaced. While a brake replacement is usually limited
to just your brake pads, your brake rotors will also eventually wear down
and need to be replaced for maximum stopping power and control over your
car. While the type of brake pad is arguably the largest and most important
choice when it comes to your vehicle’s performance, the type of
rotor can influence this as well.
There are four types of brake rotors which you’ll have to choose from:
smooth, drilled, slotted, or
drilled and slotted. Let’s take a closer look at these rotors and investigate what makes
them all different as well as which type is right for you and your vehicle’s needs.
What Do These Features Do?
The four types of brake rotor are pretty easy to distinguish from each other.
Drilled rotors look like they have a bunch of holes drilled in them. Slotted rotors
look like they have small lines etched into the surface of the rotor.
Drilled and slotted combines the two, with holes and lines in the surface
of the rotor. Blank or smooth rotors have none of these features.
Drilled rotors are an outstanding choice if you want a little bit of performance
perk to your regular daily driver. The drilled holes are excellent, particularly
because of inclement weather. When brake rotors get wet, the water greatly
reduces the friction between your rotors and pads, thus reducing your
stopping power. However, with drilled rotors, the rain water has somewhere
to escape, which means the water gets out from between the rotor and pad
faster and you have a much quicker and more aggressive stopping power
even during torrential rainstorms.
Likewise, drilled rotors cool down significantly quicker than other types.
Because drilled rotors have more surface area exposed to the air around
them, they tend to cool off much quicker than other types of rotors and
even allow more heat to escape from inside the rotor.
However, drilled holes have a flaw: they’re susceptible to heat.
Drilling holes actually weakens the metal these rotors are constructed
from, and that means that pushing these brakes too hard will cause them
to warp or even crack under stress, particularly that of extensive and
rapid heat-and-cool cycles of aggressive track driving.
Slots are tiny thin lines etched into the surface of a brake rotor. These
allow rain water to have somewhere to escape to, but simultaneously allow
more of the brake pad itself to have a place to grip into. This means
added stopping power when pressing the brake. As you might imagine, this
makes them the ideal choice for high-performance applications like autocross
and track days, but likewise makes them the best choice for towing or
hauling since they add extra power for stopping heavier vehicle weights.
Like the drilled rotors, these rotors have their downsides. For one, they
tend to wear out far faster than other types. Likewise, they tend to make
a ton of noise, especially when coming to a stop from high speeds. If
you value quiet braking, then you may not want to consider these an option.
Drilled & Slotted
So what happens when you combine both drilled and slotted rotors? Exactly
as you might expect: you enjoy the benefits of both. Not only do these
have the added grip and stopping power in inclement weather, but they
offer outstanding performance and grip. However, the combination of drilled
holes and slotted lines make them highly-susceptible to heat warping and
wear under heavy use and likewise makes them quite loud. They’re
not advised for high-speed applications such as racing, but like the slotted
rotors they are good for towing.
It’s a common misconception that blank rotors are “stock”
and therefore not as good as their counterparts. This is far from true—in
fact the majority of people who drive luxury cars, do a lot of towing,
enjoy tearing up the off-road trails, or simply wants the quietest experience
you can get from a brake rotor, a simple blank rotor is probably the best
choice for you.
If you’re looking for new brake rotors that won’t cost you
a fortune, blank rotors are probably going to be your best choice in that
regard too. Simple brake rotors are the easiest to manufacture and that
generally makes them cheaper than other types of rotors.
For more information on upgrading to high-performance braking systems,
call the Houston high-performance automotive experts at HP Motorsports at (281) 231-9950!