Braking System

What Is The Average Lifetime Of Brake Rotors?

Mike Cross
Updated Oct 30, 2021

Most people that drive know that they have to change their brake pads, but not everyone knows that you also have to change the brake rotors every so often. Some people don’t even know what exactly the brake rotors are.

Well, today in this article we are going to explain what brake rotors are, what they do, and the average life of brake rotors. That way you can take a look at yours and next time you change your brake pads you can decide if your rotors need to be changed too. Read on to learn everything you need to know about brake rotors and have your frequently asked questions answered.

What is the Average Lifetime of Brake Rotors?

What are Brake Rotors

Before getting into the lifespan of brake rotors we are first going to talk about what brake rotors are. Most people know about brake pads on their vehicle, but not everyone realized that your brakes have brake rotors as well to get your vehicle to stop.

The brake rotor is a metal round disc that is connected to the wheel. It is what the calipers go over the top of and what the brake pads clamp onto to get your vehicle to stop. The rotor is the metal disc that you see when you look at your car's wheels thru the hub cap. They start off silver and clean but normally end up getting rusty looking and dirty from the grim of the road and the dust from the brake pads.

Types of Rotors

Now that you know what the rotor is we can actually talk about the different types of rotors. Talking about the different types before how long the rotor last is important because different types last different lengths of time. In other words, the type of rotor affects the average lifetime of the rotor. There are four main types of brake rotors. They are drilled, slotted, slotted and drilled, smooth, and two pieces floating. We are going to talk about each type in the following paragraphs.


Drilled rotor
Drilled rotor

The first type of rotor we are going to talk about are drilled rotors. They are called this because holes are precisely drilled into the rotor to prevent heat from building up. They also prevent gas buildup when braking. Another benefit to drilled rotors is that they work better in wet conditions. That is because water will not pool up on the surface of the rotor. Instead, it can escape thru the holes making it easier to stop. Drilled rotors have less heat than normal rotors, but they still may not last as long because the holes in the rotor can affect the strength of them. Drilled rotors are more likely to crack than certain other types, but they are still a good rotor option.


Slotted rotors have a lot of the same benefits as drilled rotors. That is because they have slots in them that reduce the amount of surface that comes into contact with the brake pads when braking. This means that less heat is built up and also dust has areas to escape so gas doesn’t build up. The slots in the rotors also allow water to pass over the rotor without pulling. The benefit of the slotted rotor over the drilled rotors though is that the rotor is still one solid piece of metal. This adds strength to the rotor and reduces the likely hood of the rotor cracking. This added benefit plus the other benefits make the slotted rotor the most popular rotor for those that are seeking a better than the standard rotor.

Slotted and Drilled

Waiting for assembly of the car brake system
Waiting for assembly of the car brake system

The next type of rotor that we are going to look at is the slotted and drilled. This combines the slotted rotor with the drilled rotor that we have talked about previously. The name should make that obvious to you. By combining the slotted with the drilled you get the most benefit of reduced heat that comes from the drilled while still having some of the strength of the slotted. Since this kind has two processes that go into making them they can be costly, but are a good rotor and typically last a decent amount of time.


Moving along the next kind of rotor we are going to talk about is the most common and that is smooth. You can also call this the standard rotor. Smooth rotors are just one flat round disc of metal. It is what comes on most cars. However, smooth isn’t always the best. They are okay for none aggressive driving conditions such as a luxury car cruiser, but in aggressive driving, they can wear out quicker than others. That is because all the brake pad is contacted all the surface and this takes metal off the pad and the rotor. The faster you are going when you begin to stop the more wear that occurs on the rotor. Smooth rotors still last longer than brake pads, but might not last as long as some of the other options depending on how you drive.

Two-Piece Floating

The last brake rotor style is two-piece floating. This kind is two pieces and it reduces the heat and friction because the rotor can give some with the brake pad. They are great for hot conditions where the rotor might expand and for stopping fast but are not good in the cold. Salt can be a real problem because since they are floating it can get into the rotor and cause damage or worse cause you not to stop. Two-piece floating rotors aren’t seen very often, but it is an option to keep in mind.

How long do they last

So, now that we have covered all the different types of rotors we can start talking about the average lifespan of brake rotors. Well, the answer to this is hard because a lot depends on your driving style and conditions. Most rotors can last 30,000 miles to 70,000 miles depending on how you drive. The things that can help you rotor last longer though is to change your brake pads when needed. That is because old pads can cut into and gauge rotors. This will ruin them. Also, have rotors turned every time you have pads changed. That way your rotors will wear evenly and not get warped.

The things with driving condition and style that affect rotors are if you drive fast and then brake hard. This is especially true if you accelerate quickly and then brake quickly. Also, if you drive in a lot of stops and go traffic where you brake a lot, your rotors will wear out faster than if you have a lot of freeway driving. The more you use your brakes the faster your rotors will wear out. A good key though is that rotors should last about three times as long as your brake pads, so if you can determine how long a set of brake pads last for you, that should give you a rough estimate of how long your rotors will last.


So, now you know the average lifetime of brake rotors. You know that most brake rotors will have a lifespan of 30,000 miles to 70,000 miles. You also know some of the factors that affect the life of your brake rotors. Lastly, you know the different kinds of rotors that are available and which ones last longer or shorter. Now that you have read this article you can find the best rotors for you and your need and also determine if you need to change your brake rotors or just have them turned. You now have all the FAQ about brake rotors answered.

Mike Cross
Life is too short to drive with stock audio

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