Best Brake Rotors 2019 – Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Most people are not aware of the significance of well-maintained brake rotors until they experience the helpless situation of stepping on your brake pedal and getting no response. That is an extremely unsafe situation to be in and it is easy to prevent. Properly maintained brake rotors are essential, as is an understanding of the best brake rotors when it comes time to replace them. Our reviews will provide you with an opportunity to compare a number of different brake rotor models and our buyer’s guide will give you some advice on making a good choice as well as answer some of the most common questions regarding brake rotors.

Top Rated Best Brake Rotors Reviews

ACDelco 18A1705 Professional Front Disc Brake Rotor

Starting our list is a set of professional brake rotors by a trusted brand name manufacturer. These ACDelco 18A1705 Professional Front Disc Brake Rotors are designed to match your vehicle’s original equipment (OE).

OE matched SAE G3000 qualified materials with mid-range tensile strength are used in the construction of these smooth type rotors. These rotors closely match the rotors that were used by your auto manufacturer with same grade quality. They come with a 24 months/unlimited miles warranty and establish the mid-range price for premium replacement brake rotors.

These are a pretty good choice to go with because they closely match the manufacturer’s original design and you’re going with a solid brand name manufacturer.

Pros:

• OE matched quality alloy steel smooth rotor.
• Thickness variation of less than 0.0004 inches.
• Premium grade quality.
• Mid-range price with 24 month warranty.

Cons:

• Coating doesn’t last long.
• A bit pricey for some.

A more economical option from ACDelco is the ACDelco 18A2497 Professional Front Disc Brake Rotor. Though this rotor costs a bit less, it is not slack on quality.

The same quality materials of the rotor we just reviewed are found in this rotor, but it is not OE match designed. It is independently tested for balance, noise and vibration for improved quality control. This brake is also machined and ready to install right out of the box.

If you are looking to save a few dollars, this is a higher end option when it comes to economy grade rotors.

Pros:

• Quality materials.
• Independently tested for balance, noise and vibration.
• Ready for installation out of the box.
• Good price to value ratio.

Cons:

• Higher end of the economy price range.
• Made in China.

Bosch 50011479 QuietCast Premium Disc Brake Rotor

A recognized brand name parts manufacturer also produces Bosch 50011479 QuietCast Premium Disc Brake Rotors. You get near premium quality at a mid-range price with these rotors.

QuietCast rotors are also OE designed using SAE G3000 qualified materials. These rotors are designed for ABS systems and include a bi-metal aluminum and zinc coating to aid in heat distribution and protect against rust. They come properly milled for installation out of the box.

There isn’t a great deal of difference between these rotors and the ACDelco 18A1705 above when it comes to quality and price, but they do not come with the same warranty.

Pros:

• OE matched quality with SAE G3000 materials.
• Bi-metal coating for rust resistance and heat distribution.
• Ready to install out of the box.
• Median price range for premium brake rotors.

Cons:

• Protective coating does not last very long.
• Some users complain of shorter wear life.

Wagner BD125654E Premium E-Coated Brake Rotor

There is no shortage of recognizable brand names when it comes to brake rotors and Wagner is another one on our list. Their BD125654E Premium E-Coated Brake Rotors are toward the top of the heap in both quality and price.

You get a precision-machined smooth cast iron brake rotor with E-shield coating to prevent corrosion and improve brake rotor longevity. This rotor includes heat dissipation fins for cooler operation and is ready to install right out of the box. It comes in a vapor corrosion inhibiter bag, so that you still get a quality part regardless of how long it has been sitting on the shelf at your local parts store.

This is a quality part from a brand name manufacturer with some good features, but most of them are not necessarily adding intrinsic value over other products. The value to price ratio is a bit lacking.

Pros:

• OE designed premium rotor.
• Ready to install out of the box.
• Balanced for low noise and vibration.
• Coating to prevent corrosion.

Cons:

• Not equal to OE rotors in thickness.
• Extra price not reflected in real benefits.

Wagner also produces this BD125495E Premium E-Coated Brake Rotor. It is a more affordable option to their BD125654E offering, which we just reviewed.

You get a precision-machined smooth cast iron brake rotor with E-shield coating to prevent corrosion and improve brake rotor longevity. This rotor includes heat dissipation fins for cooler operation and is ready to install right out of the box. It comes in a vapor corrosion inhibiter (VPI) bag, so that you still get a quality part regardless of how long it has been sitting on the shelf at your local parts store.

The only difference between this rotor and the Wagner we reviewed in front of it is its price. Because it is more affordable with basically the same features, it has a much better value to price ratio.

Pros:

• OE designed premium rotor.
• Ready to install out of the box.
• Balanced for low noise and vibration.
• Coating to prevent corrosion.
• Median price range for premium brakes.

Cons:

• Not equal to OE rotors in thickness.
• If you are an amateur and need instructions, you’re out of luck with this product.

ACDelco is back on our list with a rear brake rotor option at a more budget friendly price. The ACDelco 18A2332A Advantage Non-Coated Rear Disc Brake Rotor has quality performance in a replacement rotor in its design.

A durable multi-metal alloy is also used in the construction of these brake rotors for improved heat dissipation. They are precision milled for proper balance as well as noiseless and low vibration performance. There is no need for additional milling of this brake before installation.

This is a quality, rear brake rotor, which lives up to the standards of ACDelco parts. It is economically priced and covered by a 12 months/unlimited miles warranty.

Pros:

• Quality multi-metal alloy material.
• Good heat dissipation design.
• Well-balanced for improved performance.
• Affordable with a 1-year warranty.

Cons:

• No coating to prevent rust and corrosion.
• No OE matching.

A rear brake rotor is also available from Bosch in its 26011451 QuietCast Premium Disc Brake Rotor. You get near premium quality at a mid-range price with these rotors.

All of the QuietCast rotors from Bosch are OE designed using SAE G3000 qualified materials. These rotors are designed for ABS systems and include a clear-look coating to aid in heat distribution and protect against rust. They come properly milled for installation out of the box.

This is a pretty affordable option for a premium rear brake rotor. Its quality is a touch above the ACDelco Advantage rotor we reviewed above without adding too much to the price.

Pros:

• OE matched quality with SAE G3000 materials.
• clear-look coating for rust resistance and heat distribution.
• Ready to install out of the box.
• Median price range for premium brake rotors.

Cons:

• Protective coating does not last very long.
• Some users complain of shorter wear life.

When it comes to budget friendly options on brake rotors, you will have a hard time beating this Centric Parts 120.40068 Premium Brake Rotor with E-Coating. The value built into this rotor defies its affordable price.

This is a smooth surface, high carbon rotor with a double-disc machine finish for a smoother and quieter performance. It is specially designed for the modern, open-wheel design with black E-coating for improved corrosion and rust protection. Its non-directional finish means that you can use it on either side of your car right out of the box.

The value to price ratio of this rotor is one of the best you are going to find, especially when shopping for premium grade brakes.

Pros:

• Quality high carbon construction material.
• Attractive, corrosion protection coating for open-wheel designs.
• Quieter and smoother with good heat transfer.
• Excellent value to price ratio on a budget friendly premium rotor.

Cons:

• Wear length is a bit short according to some users.
• Greater risk of warping.

Your first thought when you see this brake rotor manufacturer’s name is asbestos. Be assured, there is no asbestos used in the construction of the Raybestos 980583R Professional Grade Disc Brake Rotor . However, there are some quality brake rotor features at an affordable price.

These are standard grade, cast iron rotors designed with the quality and durability necessary for stopping heavier vehicles. They are machined and balanced for smooth performance and heat distribution as well as providing an affordable solution for fleet vehicles due to their longevity. They also come ready to install right out of the box.

Though they are considered to be in a budget rotor price range, the design quality of these rotors is a bit above their price range, making them a solid choice for replacement rotors. With that said, it is painful to mention that their availability is limited to a very small number of makes and models.

Pros:

• Quality, near OEM, cast iron material.
• Work well at stopping heavy vehicles.
• Ready to use out of the box.
• Excellent value to price ratio.

Cons:

• Budget brake rotor hunters won’t like their price.
• Limited to Sequoia and Tundra model trucks.

Best Brake Rotors FAQs

Looking for a technical product, especially one with safety related ramifications, tends to lead to a number of questions. We have anticipated and answered some of the most common questions related to brake rotors in order to help you make a well-informed buying decision.

Why do you need new brake rotors?

Though they seem to be a pretty solid part of your vehicle’s braking system, brake rotors are a disposable component. Depending upon the level of aggressiveness of your auto’s brake pads and your style of driving, rotors will need to be replaced sometime after 15,000 to 70,000 miles of use. A failure to replace badly worn brake rotors will result in a reduced capacity for your vehicle to stop, and can even lead to complete brake system failure.

When should you replace brake rotors?

For brake rotors to function properly, the braking surface must be smooth and flat. Brake pads remain in constant or consistent contact with the brake rotor during normal braking. Whenever the surface of the rotor becomes grooved or warped, this pressure becomes inconsistent, which results in shuddering or pulsing while braking. Shuddering and pulsing are very obvious signs that your brake rotors need attention. In some cases, they can be “turned” or refurbished by a professional brake shop, but when they are too worn for restoration, you will want to replace them.

What does it mean to have your brake rotors turned?

If you have taken your car to a mechanic to have your brakes fixed, the mechanic might tell you that you need your brakes, rotors turned. What he is referring to is a process of turning your brakes on a lathe, which specifically designed for brake rotor restoration. The rotor is turned on the lathe and re-machined by smoothing out the warps and grooves on its surface.

Are coated or uncoated brake rotors better?

The open wheel design, which is common in modern cars and trucks has led to an issue of corrosion and rust. Consequently, a special polymer coating is applied to brake rotors on late model vehicles to prevent this damage. Cars and trucks more than ten years old or later model vehicles with a closed wheel design do not require coating. The wheel design and model year of your car will determine whether coated or uncoated rotors are your best option.

Are brake rotors on cars and trucks the same?

On passenger cars and light to medium duty trucks, brake rotors are essentially the same. Brake rotors on heavy-duty trucks are often dimpled or drilled, instead of smooth, in order to provide for better gripping by the brake pads. In addition, many heavy-duty trucks use combination type brakes that include slots to help them stay cooler, especially in mountainous regions where braking during descents can quickly burn up brakes. Because of these added components and much higher wear, truck rotors need to be replaced more often.

Brake Rotors Mini-Buyer’s Guide

Purchasing replacement brake rotors will seem a bit complicated if you step up a parts counter and have to answer a barrage of questions from a salesman. Selecting the right brakes requires an understanding of what you need, and what is available. This guide will provide the information you need to make an informed decision.

Type of Rotors

Essentially, there are four different types of brake rotors. Each type is designed for different braking demands and performance levels. Here are the four types of rotors:

• Smooth. Labeled smooth because they feature a flat smooth surface against which the brake pads work, these are the most common type of rotor on most cars and trucks. They are likely to be the original equipment on your vehicle. They are the most versatile, because they wear more evenly and tend to have a longer wear-life.
• Dimpled or Drilled. This type of disc is identified by a pattern of holes drilled in the rotor’s braking surface. Though they are essentially the same, there is a slight distinction between dimpled rotors, which are not drilled all the way through, and drilled rotors, which are. These rotors help brake pads get a tighter initial bite for improved stopping power.
• Slotted. Carved lines on the braking surface of the rotor are the distinguishing feature of slotted rotors. These slots help keep the rotor cool when used for high performance purposes. They are designed to remove dirt and debris from the rotor and the brake pad and are used on vehicles that perform heavy towing.
• Combination. When you combine drilled or dimpled rotor features with those of a slotted rotor, you get a combination type. This type combines the benefits of high performance braking and enhanced cooling. They are often used on trucks.

Vehicle Use

How you use your vehicle has a significant impact on which brake rotors are best suited for it. Each type of driving provides varying degrees of stress to your braking system and requires a different quality and type of brake rotor. Here are some of the most common driving styles and the type of brake rotors that are best suited for them:

• Commuting. Basic OEM quality brake rotors will work fine for typical commuting. The only variation is if your commute includes some extreme mountain or winding road driving.
• Towing. Brakes used on vehicles that do a lot of towing need to be able to dissipate heat faster. Slotted or drilled rotors will help get rid of excessive heat quicker.
• Off-Roading. Getting rid of excess heat when you’re battling rough terrain and steep decents is critical and drilled or slotted brake rotors were well for this type of off-roading, but slots and holes can become clogged more easily if you do a lot of mudding.
• Street or Performance. The conditions associated with street and performance driving lean toward drilled or slotted brake rotors to help dissipate the heat produced by frequent starting, stopping, turning and brake riding.

Type of Material

There are six different materials used in the construction of rotors. Each of them has advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a quick look at each type of material:

• Steel. This can be a pretty broad range as there are varying degrees of steel and semi-steel grades. They are thin, lightweight and provide better handling, but they aren’t as durable as some of the others and prone to warping.
• Layered Steel. Laminating sheets of steel together is one way of dealing with rotor warping. Production of these rotors is mostly limited to racing users and not common among commercial offerings.
• Cast Iron. This is the old school type of rotor, which tends to be in one or two pieces and is the most common brake rotor material. It is durable, but heavy and makes your car handle with a weighty feel.
• High Carbon. This is iron with varying degrees of carbon content to increase durability, improve heat dissipation, and decrease vibration and brake noise. There are two grading systems for high carbon steel SAE and ATSM. Lower numbers on both scales reflect a higher amount of carbon and a lower minimum tensile strength.
• Aluminum. Using aluminum in lighter car and motorcycle brake rotors is common. It dissipates heat quickly and is a less expensive option. The downside is that aluminum has a lower melting point and does not last long on heavier vehicles.
• Ceramic. This type of rotor is found on high-performance sports cars like Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, etc. They provide the highest heat dissipation capacity and are very lightweight. You can probably already guess that cost is a downside.

Rotor Grade

Rotors are typically manufactured from recycled steel and must meet general OEM specifications for the material used, thickness, diameter and run out. Grades are labeled as economy, standard and premium. Here are the design variations reflected in the different grades:

• Fins. Lower quality rotors have fewer and thicker fins, which are not as well vented for cooling. Standard grade rotors have 35 fins where economy rotors only have 28.
• Material quality. New steel or other materials of improved durability and performance, like aluminum and high carbon steel, make for a higher grade of rotor as well. Semi-metallic, fully organic and recycled materials are used in economy grade rotors.
• Coating. Electro-plating on the hub makes the rotor more resistant to rust and corrosion and comes on some standard and most premium grade rotors.
• Surface thickness. Premium grade rotors have a greater surface thickness. This feature allows for more aggressive or more frequent machining, which can be used to extend the life of the rotors instead of having to replace them. In the long-run, you might spend more on one set of brake rotors, but buy several economy sets, which evens things out.

Proper Sizing

If you have a pretty standard model car that is less than ten years old, finding the right size is usually a matter of consulting a chart for the right sizing to fit your vehicle’s year, make and model. Most mainline older cars have replacement rotors available as well. In cases where it might be a little bit more complicated than looking up the size on a chart, you will need to take two factors into consideration:

• Outside Diameter. The easiest way to do this is to measure the outside diameter of the rotor you are replacing and match it up to the outside diameter of the new rotor.
• Tire Size. Those who have made alterations to tires and rims on their vehicle will need to take tire size into consideration. A larger tire size will require a larger rotor size.

Price and Warranty

Obviously, your budget will play a role in which rotor you are able to purchase, but be sure to get the best value available, even if you have to spend a little bit more. Premium features and premium grade materials will increase the product price, but be careful not to overpay for features like coating, which is a pretty common feature.

One way to judge value is by looking at the warranty each product offers. A warranty is, more or less, a wager made by the manufacturer regarding how long the product will last. A longer warranty means that the manufacturer has confidence in the product lasting longer, where a shorter one demonstrates less confidence in wear-life. If there is a minimal price discrepancy between two rotors, go with the one that has the longest warranty.

Conclusion

Brake rotors are an extremely important safety feature on your vehicle. Regular brake rotor inspection and proper maintenance can save you money on maintenance as well as prevent a serious accident. We’ve compared a number of different models of brake rotors, explained the various features to look for in the best brake rotors, and answered some of the most common questions about them. With the information we have provided you should be able to make a qualified choice when it comes time to purchase new brake rotors for your vehicle.