You probably already know the most common sign that signals it’s time to replace your brake pads—we’ve all heard that annoying squeal. Unlike pads, however, your rotors don’t have wear indicators, so it can be hard to know when it’s time to replace them.
When it comes to turning or resurfacing rotors, that is not a service provided by AutoZone. They also do not replace brake pads, shoes, or drums.
However, AutoZone does sell the parts that will be needed to complete these jobs if you have chosen to go the DIY route to get the job done. If you need to have the rotors on your vehicle resurfaced, the information below can shed light on the different options that are available.
Resurfacing rotors, also known as machining or turning rotors, is performed by a mechanic who shaves a thin amount of metal off of each side.
Technology has advanced, however, and today’s rotors are often manufactured with lighter and less expensive materials. In fact, many drivers can buy a new rotor for under $50. This is often less than what you’ll pay in labor costs to have a technician resurface your rotors.
When To Replace Your Rotors
Brake rotors wear in a variety of ways, and the damage is not always easy to detect. Because brakes are one of the most important parts of your vehicle, a good rule of thumb is to replace your rotors whenever you replace your pads.
Not only is this best practice for keeping peak brake performance, it’s a real time saver when you compare the five minutes it takes to pop on new rotors versus waiting on a shop to resurface them.
Here are some common problems that might affect the performance or integrity of your rotors.
As the name implies, rotors can wear unevenly in such a way that they become shaped like a dish. This is generally undetectable at a glance, although you might feel a lip on the outer edge of your rotor. (Make sure your rotor isn’t hot before you touch it!)
2. Deep grooves
Like dished rotors, deep grooves are a problem because they don’t provide your pads a smooth, flat contact area, and this reduces your braking performance.
3. Bluing and hot spots
Your rotors get hot. If they aren’t able to properly dissipate heat, your rotors may be left with a blue ring or spots. This condition might lead to a cracked rotor, but also the hot spots could be felt by drivers as a pulsation while braking.
A common concern technicians hear is that drivers hear their brakes squealing or grinding when they first start driving in the morning, but that it goes away once the car warms up.
This condition is almost always caused by surface rust, and it’s not a safety concern. However, deeper rust, which is a common problem in the North, can weaken rotors.
This is another condition that drivers can detect as a brake pedal pulsation. As rotors warp with age, pads no longer make constant contact with the rotors all the way around, and this reduces braking ability.
6. Other obvious problems such as cracks or chunks missing
These visible problems are signs of an unsafe rotor and definitely mean it’s time to replace.
Note: Still not convinced that you should be replacing your rotors with your pads? Consider the investment of your new pads. Whatever wear is already on your rotors – whether you can see it or not – is going to accelerate the wear and reduce the overall life of your brake pads.
Given the affordability of modern rotors, the time saved by replacing them yourself, and the peace of mind knowing that your brake system will be in tip-top shape, it’s easy to see why replacing brake rotors with the pads is a good idea.
Places That Offer Brake Services
While AutoZone does not offer brake services, there are several national auto shop chains that do. Here are a list of the places that will turn rotors and drums, replace rotors and drums, and replace brake pads:
Jiffy Lube: Although there are some Jiffy Lube locations that provide brake services, it is not always available. Services offered by select Jiffy Lube locations include cylinder, caliper, drum, hose, hardware, rotor and pad replacement, and installation; brake fluid flushing; anti-lock brake diagnostics, and repair; drum and rotor resurfacing; and brake cleaning and adjustment.
Firestone Complete Auto Care: Services offered by Firestone Complete Auto Care include drum or rotor resurfacing, caliper and cylinder installation, inspections, fluid exchange and brake pad replacement.
Pep Boys: Services offered by Pep Boys include brake inspection, brake fluid exchange, drum and rotor resurfacing, brake lathe service, brake pad replacement and hardware replacement.
O’Reilly Auto Parts: While not all O’Reilly Auto Parts locations offer brake services, those that do provide rotor and drum resurfacing when there is extensive wear an tear.
Goodyear Auto Service
Meineke Car Care Center
National Tire and Battery (NTB)
Precision Tune Auto Care
Brake rotors, also called brake discs, are a key part of your car’s braking system, As the brake pads clamp down on them, the applied pressure will stop the spinning of your wheels.
Brake pads typically last between 30,000 and 70,000 miles. Brake rotors can last up to 3 times longer than the pads, but it depends greatly on driving habits and environment.
Brakes are designed to counteract your vehicle’s movement. When you press down on your brake, a lever acts on the master cylinder to release hydraulic fluid. This fluid triggers a chain reaction in the hydraulic system moving from cylinder to cylinder to multiple the small force applied by your foot to bring your car to a stop.
Brake pads work with the brake caliper to stop the spinning motion of your wheels. The caliper squeezes the pads together, creating friction between the pads and the brake rotors. The pads and rotors then work together to stop your car’s wheels. When you apply pressure to your brakes and hear a squeak, it’s most likely your brake pads warning you they may need to be replaced.
AutoZone does not replace rotors or resurface rotors, turn drums or replace brake pads. National chains around the country that provide these services include Jiffy Lube, Firestone Complete Auto Care, Pep Boys and O’Reilly Auto Parts.
Since not all of these companies offer the same type of services at each of their locations, it’s important to contact the shop in your area by phone or look at the list of their services online before showing up.
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