You put your foot on the brakes, your car or truck begins to slow to a halt. This is a process familiar to all drivers. Despite that, many people wouldn’t be able to answer the question: what are brake rotors? If you are scratching your head at this, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Many people know very little about how their cars and trucks work. Fortunately, many of the concepts are very easy to learn.
Parts of a Brake
To fully understand what a brake rotor is, it is helpful to understand how the brakes work. Most passenger vehicles use disc brakes. This type of brake has a simple operating mechanism. There is a part connected to the wheel that spins with it. There is also a part connected to the frame of the vehicle. The latter clamps down on the former to stop the wheels from spinning using friction.
Although the way that brakes work is simple, they have numerous parts working in unison to make the vehicle slow when you press the brake. These are the main components of a disc brake:
- Rotor: This is the component that spins with the wheel. When the portion of the brake attached to the vehicle frame clamps down on the brake rotor, the friction causes the vehicle to stop. Thus, rotors experience a lot of heat and pressure. Having high-quality rotors will help your car or truck to stop more easily.
- Caliper: This part fits around the brake rotor and provides the pressure down on it. It is a hydraulic system that uses brake fluid to generate pressure and friction. The caliper is the primary moving component of the brake.
- Pads: These friction pads are placed inside the brake caliper on either side of the rotor. They absorb a lot of the heat during the braking process. They also provide the brakes with an effective contact surface. These are designed to be consumable. Brake pads cost significantly less than other parts and are easier to replace.
- Cylinder: The master cylinders and wheel cylinders contain the brake fluid. This is the system that converts pressing on the brake pedal into the brake assembly actuating.
- Lines: These tubes connect the master cylinder to the wheel cylinders and the fluid reservoir. It is important to keep these in good condition to avoid contamination or leaking.
Addressing Brake Problems
The most common problem you will experience with your brakes is old brake pads. These can be changed by taking the caliper off the rotor then removing the pads.
Troubleshooting other problems may require a visual inspection of the components. Additionally, observing the specifics of the issue can help. For example, little resistance when braking indicates a problem with the hydraulic system. Screeching indicates that there may be a problem with the caliper, the rotor or the brake pads causing metal to grind on metal.
You may be surprised how much you can achieve with a little learning and time. If you are having trouble with your brakes, why not look for brake rotors on sale and change them yourself?