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Published Nov. 5, 2020

Brakes are a vital safety component of any vehicle. If your brakes aren’t in optimal condition,  you’ll have a tough time stopping and you could cause an accident. Your car’s brakes are more than just the pads, the fluid, or the rotors—they’re a complete system that needs to work together in order to get the job done right.

When you press the brake pedal, the calipers squeeze the brake pads onto the rotors. The harder you press the pedal, the harder the calipers squeeze, and the faster you stop—and the faster your brake pads and rotors wear out. If any one part of this system fails the result could be disastrous, and potentially deadly.

The goal is to stop safely and quickly, and your brake rotors are an essential part of the braking system. What should you look for when it’s time to replace your rotors? Our buying guide below features the best brake rotors available for a variety of cars, trucks, and SUVs. Find the one that’s best for your car, and the safety of your loved ones, right here.

The Best Brake Rotors

Brembo is perhaps one of the biggest names in vehicle brakes, so you know you’re getting a high-quality set of rotors. These drilled brake rotors are sleek and designed with calculation and precision to provide you with maximum performance. They are evenly balanced to help eliminate vibrations and wobble.

Each Brembo brake rotor includes enhanced venting technology that increases cooling. This also helps the rotors to provide 40 percent more resistance to thermal cracking. Be aware that the rotors are quite expensive, and the price you pay is for a single rotor and not a pair.  Also, these rotors are only designed for front braking systems.

Key Features
  • Protective UV coating
  • Quality name brand
  • Evenly balanced design
  • Front rotor
Specification
  • Brand Brembo
  • Model 09.A300.11
  • Weight 27.2 pounds
PROS

Sleek and aggressive

Drilled design

Long-lasting construction

CONS

Expensive

Heaviest of our choices

These ACDelco brake rotors are designed out of a tough and durable metal alloy. The material is designed to help guide and dissipate heat away from the rotors. This boosts the performance and power behind your brakes, so you stop quicker and more efficiently. However, they are not coated, so they may rust or corrode if kept wet.

They look nice and feature a rounded radius for increased strength. As a smooth brake rotor, they provide your vehicle with reliable braking power, reduce noise, and lower the amount of vibration you feel when braking. They also maximize airflow away from the rotors to prevent a buildup of heat and gas.

Key Features
  • Designed out of high-quality metals
  • Mill-balanced
  • Rounded radius
  • Front rotor
Specification
  • Brand ACDelco
  • Model 18A1485A
  • Weight 1 pound
PROS

Dissipates heat well

Low noise

Reduced vibration

CONS

No protective coating

Can rust easily

Reduced lifespan

As our premium choice, the Power Stop Front Brake Kit rotors are durable, come with an aggressive look, and feature a strong design. They are developed out of a carbon-fiber ceramic compound that pairs well with ceramic brake pads. This enhances their effectiveness on the road no matter if it’s slick or dry. You also get a full kit, which includes brake pads. However, the compatibility chart may not be accurate.

One great benefit is that they reduce the amount of dust released when braking. This makes sure your pads and rotors last a longer amount of time. They are also nearly silent and don’t whine or squeak when you slam on the brakes. However, you may get a bit of noise if they are wet. They are also versatile as they feature a drilled and slotted design.

Key Features
  • Drilled and slotted design
  • Complete kit
  • Carbon-fiber constructed
  • Front rotor
Specification
  • Brand Power Stop
  • Model K2384
  • Weight 24.6 pounds
PROS

Reduce dust from braking

Function great on wet and dry surfaces

CONS

May be noisy when wet

Compatibility chart may be inaccurate

Heavy

These Bosch Quietcast Premium Disc Brake Rotors are designed out of sturdy material for optimum performance. They feature a bi-metal aluminum and zinc casting for a clean look. Plus, the addition of alutherm 80 helps to extend their life, and they stick out on your wheels. Also, the coating reduces and prevents rust or corrosion from forming on the rotors.

One huge benefit of these rotors is they include G3000 heat-flowed castings. This means they wear more evenly, last longer, and operate quietly. They also disperse heat away from the rotors easily. A bit of an issue may come when you want to fit them to your car. They are only compatible with certain types of vehicles.

Key Features
  • G3000 heat-flowed castings
  • Bi-metal aluminum-zinc coat
  • Front rotor
  • Smooth design
Specification
  • Brand Bosch
  • Model 50011343
  • Weight 13.91 pounds
PROS

Excellent heat dissipation

Quiet ride

Extended lifespan

CONS

May not be compatible with all vehicles

Fitment issues on some cars

ACDelco is back on our list and for good reason. The company understands vehicle performance and makes high-quality brake rotors. Its Professional Front Disc Brake Rotor is impressive, reliable, and brakes smoothly. Whether under pressure or slowly tapping the brake pedal, these rotors look great and ride even better. 

Their design features a thickness variation that helps to reduce pedal pulsation and brake noise. This makes the pedal stiffer under your foot, so you know exactly how much pressure is required. Each one also disperses heat to prolong the life of the rotor and brake pads. However, their heavy-duty build makes them a bit more expensive than other brands. Also, the coating can peel off in time making the rotors vulnerable to rust.

Key Features
  • Front rotor
  • G3000 qualified
  • Smooth design
Specification
  • Brand ACDelco
  • Model 18A1705
  • Weight 26 pounds
PROS

Reliable and smooth braking

Reduced pedal pulsation

Minimal to no noise

CONS

A little expensive

Coating can peel off

Brembo made our list again, but these rotors are slightly less expensive and don’t compromise on quality. These front disc brake rotors will stand out and shine behind your wheels. They are comfortable and stop smoothly and quickly without wobble or vibration. As with the other Brembo rotors on our list, these are priced high and only include a single front rotor. 

When it comes to their build, they don’t disappoint. As high-end brake rotors, they are developed from high-carbon cast iron for more reliable and long-lasting performance. Each one is designed using pillar-vented technology that improves their overall cooling ability. So, they will remain cool, steady, and durable under pressure.

Key Features
  • Smooth design
  • Front rotor
  • Cast iron constructed
Specification
  • Brand Brembo
  • Model 25555
  • Weight 21.3 pounds
PROS

Reliable and powerful

Long-lasting

Shine and stand out

CONS

High price

The protective coating is oil-based and not the strongest

To prevent rusting, you may need to apply another coat

This smooth brake rotor from Wagner is built with an E-Shield coating to prevent corrosion and rust damage. A benefit of that smooth surface finish is that it reduces the amount of time it takes to break in the brake pads. They are also easy to install with the included vapor corrosion inhibitor bag.

Their braking ability is quite powerful as well. Each rotor is developed with a patented vane and rib design that reduces brake noise and stopping distance. This component also stiffens your brake pedal to give you better control over braking. They may not fit all types of vehicles, so make sure you check the compatibility chart.

Key Features
  • Smooth design
  • Protective coating
  • Front rotor
Specification
  • Brand Wagner
  • Model BD125669E
  • Weight 13.9 pounds
PROS

Reduced noise

Quick response time

Lower break-in period

Easy to install

CONS

May not be compatible with all vehicles

May get a bit of noise

Best Brake Rotors Buying Guide & FAQ

It’s important to choose the right pair of brake rotors for your particular vehicle. They are a crucial component, and the best brake rotors will provide excellent stopping power. This buying guide includes all the information you need to choose the best products for your car, truck, van, SUV, etc.

Why Do You Need Brake Rotors?

If your vehicle isn’t stopping as well as it used to, then there’s a good chance you are in need of a new set of brake rotors. This vital component enhances braking performance and also makes braking a little smoother. Look for brake rotors that perform well in wet conditions and that are long lasting, so you don’t have to swap them out as often.

  • Brake rotors improve your car’s overall braking performance by allowing you to slow down more quickly and decrease your stopping time.
  • New rotors let your vehicle brake more smoothly and make your brake pedal more responsive and sensitive to touch.
  • High-quality rotors can increase your vehicle’s effectiveness in the rain or snow.
  • Premium brake rotors will ensure your braking system has a longer lifespan to last you many miles.
Mechanic Inserting Brake Pad

Types of Brake Rotors

There are three types of brake rotors, and each one has different benefits. Knowing which one is best for your car will help you make the right purchasing decision.

  • Drilled

A drilled brake rotor has holes drilled into it. While numerous holes may sound like a bad idea, there is a reason for it. The holes exist to help control heat. The friction from the brake pad generates a lot of heat, and if it has nowhere to go it can reduce the stopping power of the brake. Another reason for the holes is to reduce the amount of gas produced by older model brake pads. The final reason is the holes help guide the flow of water so it doesn’t make the brake rotors slippery.

  • Slotted

Slotted brake rotors come with slots carved onto their surface. This helps to move and guide gas, heat, and water away from the rotor so your vehicle brakes more efficiently. Slotted brake rotors are designed for high-performance cars or cars developed for racing. They are built with sturdier materials and tend to be the most durable type of rotor.

  • Smooth

Smooth brake rotors do not include holes or slots in their design. They may also be referred to as blank brake rotors. These are most commonly installed on vehicles straight from the showroom floor. They are typically cheaper to manufacture and generate a lot more heat than the other two types, which may cause warping or bending in the metal. They are designed for everyday drivers who don’t put a lot of pressure on their vehicles.

What to Look for When Buying Brake Rotors

It’s important to do some research before buying new brake rotors for your vehicle as they have different features. Since they are an essential part of your vehicle, it’s critical that you choose a product that is safe and effective. Check out some of the factors you should consider before making a purchase.

  • Material

Brake rotors are designed out of a variety of materials. While the majority might be built out of cast iron, other types include steel, aluminum, and carbon. Cast iron is a sturdy and powerful material, but it is also rather heavy. Steel can be lighter and help transfer heat more effectively. Aluminum brake rotors are the most lightweight and may be lower in price. Carbon rotors dissipate heat well and boost your vehicle’s braking performance.

  • Protective Coating

Your brake rotors will be subjected to constant road debris, water, dirt, and other elements. Therefore, they should come with a reliable rust-resistant coating. Many rotors feature protective chemicals and treatments designed to fight against corrosion buildup. This will also help to expand their lifespan on the road. 

  • Type

As mentioned above, you should strongly consider the type of rotor you need. If you do a lot of high-performance driving like racing, off-roading, or if you haul a trailer, you may want to consider slotted brake rotors. Drilled rotors offer advantages for everyday drivers that will make a difference on the road.

Tips for Buying and Using Brake Rotors

Some drivers don’t think about their brake rotors until they fail. But it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them and their level of performance to ensure that they’re operating efficiently. Below we provide some tips, so you can make sure your brake rotors are working as they should.

  • To measure the wear on your brake rotor, use a micrometer to see how thick they are.
  • If your vehicle shakes or wobbles a lot when you brake, you should check the rotor to see if it is warped or bent.
  • You can tell a brake pad or rotor is wearing down if you hear a high-pitched whining or squeaking noise when you brake.
  • You can help increase the lifespan of your brakes by anticipating the road ahead. Keep an eye on how close you are to other vehicles and gradually slow down instead of slamming the brakes.

Brake Rotor

Best Brake Rotors FAQ:

Q: Do I need to break in my brake rotors?

Always break in or “bed” your brake rotors after installing them. To do so, drive somewhere away from other vehicles and gradually stop a few times from 35 mph. Then increase the speed to 45 mph and brake a bit harder. This will get rid of debris or dust from the brake rotors and pads to ensure your vehicle stops effectively. 

Q: Do I need to swap out my entire brake system with the rotors?

We recommend swapping out your vehicle’s brake pads and rotors at the same time. This will ensure that both components wear down evenly over time. Plus, it will improve your overall braking system and increase its performance and efficiency.

Q: How long do brake rotors last?

This depends on the type of brake rotor, your driving style, and the vehicle they are on. Generally, brake rotors can last between 30,000 to 75,000 miles. However, if you do a lot of high-performance driving, this could drastically reduce the mileage. 

Our Top Pick

We believe the Brembo UV Coated Front Disc Brake Rotors are the best option. These high-quality rotors provide maximum performance and produce minimal noise and vibration when applied. Special venting technology enhances cooling, so they’re less likely to experience thermal cracking. In addition, they feature a solvent-free UV coating for extra protection and are comfortable to use when driving.

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