How Long Can You Drive With Bad Rotors? (A Cautionary Lesson)

Bad car rotors: Should I drive on them? It’s a popular question that many drifters share with Car From Japan. Our topic will give you extensive insights into how long can you drive with bad rotors and useful tips you may not know about this part. Buckle the seatbelt and deep into the article.

What Happens When Rotors Go Bad?

As we know, the purpose of brake rotors is to turn kinetic energy into heat (thermal energy). When you depress the brake pedal, a signal will be sent through the brake cylinder to your calipers to squeeze your brake pads together based on the large surface area of the rotor. This friction created by pads pressing on the rotors will counteract the rotation of the wheel, slowing its rotation and halting the movement of the car.

However, over time, drivers will experience many cases of rotor damage that is dangerous to operate. Recognizing signs of bad rotors early, you can proactively prevent and repair them in time. How to tell if the rotor is bad?

bad car rotors
Driving with bad car rotors is not a safe situation because rotors can break or crack. (Photo:

Strange noise

Damaged rotors can cause many different types of noise. If the user hears a “squeaky” sound when stepping on the brake, it means that the brake rotors are worn and need to be replaced immediately. Rotors are designed with even pieces and flat, however, when losing their flatness due to worn up, at this time, you can hear the lousy noise from your car. If the noise is not loud or does not appear continuously, the brake mechanism may have been contaminated with dirt and garbage. In addition, poor-quality brake rotors can also create noise when braking.

Vibration or deflecting when braking

If your car vibrates when pressing the pedal, it is most likely due to faulty rotors when they are worn or warped due to external forces. When stepping on the brake, the brake pads clamp to the disc due to wear or warping. So the grip is uneven compared to other wheels, leading to the vehicle shaking. 

These symptoms are serious alarming situations. When driving on narrow roads that encounter this problem will be very dangerous. If you are not sure, you can select an empty area, drive at multiple speeds and press the brake to check. Once you have identified this phenomenon, it is best to have your vehicle serviced to brake rotors or replace it with a new one if necessary.

Visual signs

You can easily know the quality of your brake rotors by observing the surface rotors. Rotors that are warped, rusted, or worn unevenly are the signs you can simply notice visually when inspecting your car. When the temperature is too high, brake rotors may warp. This condition causes the steering wheel to wobble, which is noticeable when braking at high speeds.

In addition, when the vehicle is not used for many days, parts of the rotors rust, leading to uneven wear of the rotor. This is what causes steering wheel and brake pedal vibrations when braking at high speeds. In case the brake pads are damaged, the rotor is grooved, or unevenly worn. The car owner needs to replace or repair it immediately to ensure safety when operating the vehicle.

We have listed some focal signs that could happen when your rotors are going bad. To have more detail you can refer to other articles on our website. Let’s move to the awaited part of this article!

>> Read more: 4 Factors that Define How Long do Rotors Last?

How Long Can You Drive With Bad Rotors?

To get an answer to this question, you should aware of the lifespan of the rotors. However, the exact estimate of how long do brake rotors last depends on the conditions of use as well as the owner’s maintenance. Compared to other components, rotors are considered to be among the most durable parts of a vehicle. Normally, with a car in stable operation, the time it takes to replace the brake rotor is about 3 years or 60,000 miles before the brake rotor reaches its maximum wear. 

These numbers are the maximum miles you can drive with a good rotor. For the faulty rotors whether you can still drive your car as normal. The answer to the question “How long can you drive with bad rotors?” is zero minutes. In some force majeure cases, the maximum mileage you can run with bad rotors is 50 miles.

Driving with bad rotors is not a safe situation because rotors can break or crack. Causing your car to experience extreme loss of braking force. When the brake rotor is warped, the force to move the steering wheel can be erratic which will make you lose control of the steering wheel. What happens If you still drive with bad rotors? If you don’t replace the rotors when needed, you risk brake failure and an accident. The rotor will transfer the heat when you press the pedal. The thinner the rotor, the high its ability to absorb heat. This excess heat will make the rotor wear out.

Note: When you hear “grinding” from your car, this situation is not ideal for driving the car, however, your vehicle will stop because friction will still happen between metal surfaces. You can easily damage your caliper, which very quickly increases the cost you need to pay for repair.

How To Protect Your Rotors From Going Bad?

how long do brake rotors last
How long do brake rotors last? It can last 3 years or 60,000 miles before the brake rotor reaches its maximum wear. (Photo:

Brake rotors can’t last forever, every time you step on the brake, the rotor wears out gradually. The rate of rotor wear depends on a number of factors, including the quality, brake pads being used, how quickly the rotor cools, and how you drive. And how exposed the rotor is to moisture and road salt. – elements that can cause excessive corrosion and rust. So to prolong the life of the rotors. However, we can absolutely limit this phenomenon. In this part, we will share with you some effective tips to keep your rotors always in good condition:

Driving your car

We think this is one of the easiest ways you can do to keep your rotors from rusting is by driving the car regularly. If your car sits in the garage for a long time and you don’t use it. This will make brake rotors appear in rusted signs. You should take your car for a short distance. At this time, the surface rust is removed naturally by stepping on the pedal. And oxidation will not able to build up and cause damage.

Select the right rotors for your car

Making sure to have quality rotors in the first place is a very important step because this part can affect your whole brake system. Researching the right brake rotors can be a daunting task. When finding a new brake rotor. You should consider some points to choose the best rotors for your car like materials (steel, aluminum, ceramic rotors..) weather performance, operating temperature, friction response…And don’t forget to pay attention to warranties for brake rotors, as they are specific and limited. 

Maintain brake system periodically

In addition to paying attention to your driving habits. It’s also important to keep your brake system up to date with routine maintenance appointments. Some are needed more often than others but all will help keep your brakes working properly. Taking your car for maintenance periodically can be an effective way to detect the problem with any parts on the vehicle to have timely methods. Besides, washing your car regularly is also a very helpful way to remove contaminants and dirt that accumulate in brake rotors.

>> Related post: When Is the Right Time for Brake Rotors Turning?

How Much Does It Cost To Replace Bad Rotors?

The price will completely depend on the make, model, options, and years of your car. You can research the parts online to have more information. And we also want to emphasize that besides replacing the rotors. You need to check and change other accessories such as slide pins, rubber bushings, pads, and grease tubes to help control noise and proper movement.

On average, the replacement process only can take about 30 minutes or more depending on the damage to rotors. However, the cost of replacing the rotors is not a small amount. The price will range from $406 and $559 and labor costs will be estimated between $158 and $200 while the part will cost you from $248 to $359….

Closing Thoughts: How Long Can You Drive With Bad Rotors?

Mostly, we don’t notice that rotors are going bad until it causes problems elsewhere. Driving with a warped or bad rotor can put stress on other brake system mechanical components such as calipers, ball joints, and brake pads. But can also lead to sensor damage to the anti-lock braking system. The most serious consequence that can happen is that it can cause accidents. To protect your safety, we don’t recommend that you drive a car with a bad rotor.