How to Tell if You Need Brake Pads or Rotors

Car brake disc without wheels closeup

If you hear your car making any noises that don’t sound typical, it could be time to take a look behind your wheels.

Your brakes are one of the most important parts of your vehicle. They are responsible for making sure you can stop safely when you are on the road. Although you may not think about this part of your car often, over time your brake pads and rotor can wear down.

Need help figuring out what to look for? Read on to figure out how to tell if you need brake pads or rotors.

What Are Brake Pads and Rotors?

Brake pads are a single part in your car’s wheel mechanism that allows the action of you pressing on your brake pedal to make the car stop. The difference between brake pads and rotors is that rotors spin with your wheel and the brake pads clamp on either side of it to slow it down when pressure is applied.

The rotor is a shiny disk that is housed behind your tire. There are several types of rotors, but the most common is a cast iron rotor. When you look through your tire, you can typically see this part. The rotor is what spins with the tire, making the whole car move.

How to Tell If You Need Brake Pads or Rotors?

There are a couple of things to look for. Typically, a squealing or grinding sound will occur or maybe your car starts vibrating. Sometimes, when your car has poor quality rotors, over time they will warp by heat and cause your car to vibrate when you apply brakes.

Squeaking or Grinding

This noise can happen when your rotors begin to warp over time from constant friction and will most likely be very high-pitched. The noises are very distinct, and when they begin to occur you definitely won’t miss it.

The grinding noise comes from worn-down brake pads pressing on the rotor to slow its spin, but when they are down to the last bit, it begins to grind metal-on-metal and the brake pads should be replaced ASAP.

Vibration or Resistance

If you experience any push-back when applying pressure to your brakes while driving or feel a vibration, this can indicate that there is an issue with your rotor. Take a look when you are in a safe location and check for warping or other issues.

You may need new brake rotors if there are any issues. If that is the case, consider plating rotors. These have a coat that makes the appearance of the rotors better and helps protect each rotor long-term.

What Happens Next?

If you begin to experience these symptoms, investigate or find a professional to diagnose the problem. If worn down brake pads or a faulty rotor are left unchecked, this can be detrimental to how your vehicle works and your overall safety.

Now that you know how to tell if you need brake pads or rotors, check out what your car needs so you can be prepared. Check out our blog for more.