What Are Brake Rotors Made Of?

What are brake rotors made of? Choosing the right kind of rotor is important for the braking system to work properly. You may face problems with stopping the car if any component is underperforming. Rotors can be made of several materials and not all of them yield the same performance. Learn about the brake rotor material to find out if it’s the right choice for your car.

What Are Brake Rotors Made Of?

Believe it or not, brake rotors can be made of six different materials. Let’s find out their advantages and downsides.

Cast Iron Brake Rotors

Cast iron is the most common material that goes into the making of brake rotors. Crafting with the right design can make it work well even for performance vehicles. However, it’s a heavy material that adds to the vehicle’s overall weight. That extra weight goes right into the front wheels, making it somewhat difficult to handle.

cast iron brake rotors
Most practical choice for commuter vehicles.

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Steel Brake Rotors

Due to thinner dimensions and less weight, steel rotors have been the choice of racers for many years. If you compare cast iron vs steel brake rotors, the latter manages overheated conditions better. They provide a good balance of ‘grab’ for drag cars and are also easier to handle due to their lighter weight.

However, steel rotors are not highly durable. Plus, warped rotors create annoying sounds and cause throbbing pedal at the time of braking.

Layered Steel Brake Rotors

These rotors are made by placing sheets of steel one on another and then laminating them together. It’s a new favorite among racers due to its durability and resistance to warping. Unlike steel rotors, you don’t need to repair or replace these frequently.

However, the rotors are not popular among general people except for professional racers. The production is limited for this reason.

Aluminum Brake Rotors

Aluminum is lightweight and can release heat pretty quickly. But, the melting point is lower than any other materials. For this reason, it is used in motorcycle rotors as they have to take less pressure than the rotors in trucks or SUVs.

High Carbon Brake Rotors

Don’t let the name deceive you. This material is actually iron but with a good volume of carbon mixed in it. These rotors can absorb and dissipate heat quickly and don’t fracture under serious pressure. Using them instead of steel rotors means shedding at least 10 pounds of rotating weight, which significantly improves the braking performance. They also create less noise and vibration compared to other options. The only negative side is the high price.

brake rotor material
Carbon mixed iron material.

Originally developed for Formula 1 vehicles, the carbon brake rotors are probably the best choice for the fastest drag cars.

Ceramic Brake Rotors

What are brake rotors made of? Well, if you are driving a high-performance sports car, the rotors are definitely made of ceramic. It has an impressively higher heat absorption and release capacity along with the ability to provide consistent performance under high pressure. It is arguably the best material for brake rotors but cast iron makes more financial sense if you use the car just for commuting.