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Brake Rotor Tips: How Frequently Should Brake Rotors Be Replaced?

Auto mechanic installing two piston brake calipers and disc brake rotor | Iowa City Tire and Services

Did you know that most American drivers apply brakes around 200 times daily? Seems like a lot, right? That’s because you use the brakes so often it’s routine, and you don’t think about it. Instead, you instinctually trust over 40 parts to work with perfect precision.

At Iowa City Tire & Service in Iowa City, IA, one of the top questions we receive is, “How frequently should brake rotors be replaced?” Let’s take a closer look at how frequently you’ll need brake rotor replacement.

What Are Brake Rotors, and How Do They Work?

Brake rotors are circular discs attached to every wheel. Your rotors convert kinetic energy into thermal heat energy. Here’s how:

  1. When you want to slow down or stop your vehicle, you press the brake pedal.
  2. A signal is sent via the master brake cylinder to the brake calipers.
  3. The brake calipers then squeeze the brake pads together to depress against the large surface area of the rotor.
  4. The friction generated by the pads squeezing the rotors causes the wheels to slow down and ultimately stop your vehicle.

How Frequently Should Brake Rotors Be Replaced?

Like your brake pads, the brake rotors wear down a little bit every time you use the brakes. On average, most brake rotors can last anywhere from 30K to 80K miles. However, many factors can affect how soon you will need brake rotor replacement or repair. Some of the most common factors include:

  1. Whether you do a lot of stop-and-go city driving vs highway driving
  2. The durability and quality of your rotor
  3. The type of brake pad used
  4. How well your brake rotors dissipate heat?
  5. How often do you change your brake pads?
  6. Exposure to environmental elements like road salt and climate
  7. How aggressively do you brake?


Some common causes of early brake rotor replacement are explained below:

Warping Can Cause Early Brake Rotor Replacement

The most common reason you need premature brake rotor replacement is warping. Warped rotors can be more difficult to stop because there isn’t even contact with your brake pads. A common sign of warped rotors is vibration whenever you apply the brakes.

Overheating Can Cause Early Brake Rotor Replacement

It’s common for your rotors to warp when they overheat. A few reasons rotors overheat include:

  • Riding your brakes when driving downhill
  • Aggressive braking
  • Towing

Worn Brake Pads Can Lead to Early Brake Rotor Replacement

Brake pad replacement is a necessary preventative maintenance service. Failure to have timely brake pad replacement can lead to more expensive brake rotor replacement. Whenever the friction material on your brake pads wears down past the minimum thickness, the metal plate of your brake pads will be exposed. Instead of friction material pressing against the rotors, you will have metal on metal, which produces a menacing grinding sound. As bad as it sounds, this can cause serious rotor damage.

Rust Often Leads to Early Brake Rotor Replacement

Metal parts and components will naturally develop rust when used in the elements. A little rust is natural and will not cause your brakes to fail. However, if your vehicle sits for an extended period of time, the rust will eat away at the rotor’s metal face. It will lead to an uneven surface and reduce your braking ability and cause strange noises.

How Do I Know When My Rotors Are About to Fail?

Considering the importance of your brake rotors, the notion of them failing can be extremely dangerous. It can lead to longer stopping distances or the inability to stop your vehicle. To prevent this from occurring, make sure to watch out for these key warning signs:

  1. The brake pedal vibrates or pulsates when you’re driving.
  2. You have more difficulty stopping your vehicle.
  3. You notice longer stopping distances.
  4. You feel a vibration in your brake pedal or steering wheel when you brake.

If you notice these signs, schedule brake repair and service at Iowa City Tire & Service in Iowa City, IA.

Contact Iowa City Tire & Service for Brake Rotor Replacement & Brake Repair in Iowa City, IA

Your brakes are the most vital safety feature of your vehicle. Anytime you notice strange sounds, smells, or performance issues, get it checked out immediately. Simply put, you have too much riding around on your brakes to leave stopping to chance.

Call us at (319)338-5401, visit us at 410 Kirkwood Ave in Iowa City, IA, or complete our online contact form.


When it comes to finding the best auto repair and maintenance services at the best price, Iowa City Tire & Service is a sure pick. We have an unwavering commitment to customer service and pride ourselves on going above and beyond!

We invite you to check us out. Stop by our shop at 410 Kirkwood Ave., Iowa City, IA. You can also call us at (319) 338-5401 for inquiries or appointments.