Last Updated on 11 months by Ollie Barker
A good rotor system is crucial for you to control the car properly. Issues with this system will make it difficult to stop completely. Visual investigations are hard to tell if there is something wrong, that’s why drivers need to know warped rotor symptoms in order to prevent any unexpected events on the road.
In short, warped rotors cause brake pedal and steering wheel vibration, unusual noise, and jumpy brakes.
Types of warped rotors
You might know this but not everybody knows that there are three types of warped rotors. They are:
1. Normal warped rotor
This is the most common type. A normal warped rotor appears as if the car has been bit well by a dog or something similar, or a dent is formed on the rim. It looks like a circle when viewed under high light, or it is slightly curved like a horseshoe.
2. Star warped rotor
It is also common, except when you look at it from the top, you will see a star-like shape. In order to have one, the rotor has to be heated up for an extended period of time. That’s why this type is usually located on racetracks.
3. Flat warped rotor
There are two types of flat warped rotors, and they are: machining marks and crack warped rotor. Machining marks are usually present when the rotor is worked too hard at the track. They can cause a well-known problem called “cam-out”. It’s a specific ripple running along the center of your rotor. This issue is most likely caused by something missing from your brake system, like a piston or cylinder.
The other type of warped rotor is the crack warped rotor. Sometimes, this one will have ripples and cracks going along the edge of it. But you can’t see it clearly since it is almost flat.
Warped rotor symptoms
To determine whether you have a warped rotor or not, here are some symptoms that you need to look out for:
#1 Brake pedal vibration
The brake pedal will vibrate back and forth if there are warped rotors. It is one of the most common symptoms of warped rotors and you can feel it clearly when you press the pedal.
#2 Unusual noise
There will be noises coming from the front of your car when you are braking, or as they say, when you are in panic mode. But if it is loud, it means that there is something wrong with your rotors. Here are two common types of sounds:
- Squeaking sound: They will come when you put the pedal to the floor and stop completely. This issue is caused by the heat absorbing into your rotors and mounts before your brakes can cool them down. It might be something as simple as a brake pad or rotor seal leaking.
- Clunk: They will ring when you release the brakes and continue to clunk when you apply the brakes again. It is a normal noise that comes from warped rotors. But if it is too loud, you should have your brakes checked immediately.
#3 Steering wheel vibration
The steering wheel often vibrates when the car is braking as there are attachments between the steering wheel and brake rotor through the spindle. This is one more symptom that you should check if you suspect your rotors to be warped.
#4 Jumpy brakes
The brakes do not stop completely when you press them, no matter how hard you apply them. They start off slowly and become faster as they heat up. This symptom is caused by a warped rotor and could quickly cause an accident. A good rotor system should stop the car completely, not letting you jump on the brakes or steer in the wrong direction.
What causes a warped rotor?
Wear and tear, accidents, and overheating are the main reasons for warped rotors. They are caused by irregular braking or other factors that affect rotor temperature. If you see that your rotors are warped, you need to replace them immediately before they damage your car.
The most important thing is to maintain a proper brake system and make sure that your rotors are not too hot anymore after driving. In some cases, distorted brake pad linings can be fixed by simply turning the rotor around.
Normally, a rotor can last between 100,000 miles to 200,000 miles, depending on your driving habits. If your commute involves a lot of stop-and-go traffic, then don’t expect your rotors to last long.
Failing brake systems is another reason for warped rotors as either front brakes or rear brakes have to work much harder than they should. Moreover, the heat will keep building up inside the rotor until it becomes too hot.
How to fix a warped rotor?
You have two options: either repair or replace. If your warped rotors are not too bad and the thickness is still enough, you can have them straightened. On the other hand, if they have cracks on them or they are too old, then you need to replace them as soon as possible.
A warped rotor can be uncomfortable but not dangerous. You can notice the above signs to see if your rotors are warped. As a driver, you need to adjust your speed according to how hard you are pressing on the brake pedal. A warped rotor will probably mess up your braking system and cause an accident if you do not pay attention.