How Do Brake Rotors Work And Why Are They Important?

When you remove one of the wheels on your Mazda, you’ll likely find a metal disc staring back at you. That’s the rotor, and it’s an essential part in a disc brake setup. In fact, the disc brake system is named for the rotor.

You might be wondering how rotors work and why they’re important parts of the braking system. Below are three of the most commonly asked questions about brake rotors and how they work.

Brake rotor

Why is the Rotor an Important Part of the Braking System?

Without a fully functioning set of rotors, your car will either have difficulty stopping or not stop at all. Obviously, your car’s braking power is important for your safety, therefore it’s necessary to have rotors in good shape at all times.

Like most car parts, your rotors won’t last forever. They will eventually get too thin. When that happens, your car’s braking power is reduced, and that could compromise your safety.

How Does a Rotor Work?

Some Mazda models have disc brakes at all 4 wheels. Others have two wheels (on the same axle) with disc brakes and two wheels with drum brakes. Whether your car has a two-disc brake or four-disc brake setup, the rotors are set up the same way.

Rotors are mounted to the wheel hub by sliding the rotor over the lug studs. Then the wheel is also slid into place, and the lug nuts are installed. The rotor is sandwiched between the wheel and hub. The rotor sits perfectly perpendicular to the axis of rotation, and it spins along with the wheel when you hit the gas pedal.

Rotor diagram

Wrapped around the rotor is a brake caliper with a set of brake pads inside it. When you hit the brake pedal, the caliper squeezes the brake pads inwards against the rotor. There’s one brake pad on each side of the rotor. When the caliper squeezes the pads against the rotor, enough friction is created to stop the rotor in a matter of seconds.

When the rotor stops turning, the wheel stops turning, as well.

What Happens When a Rotor Fails?

When one of your rotors gets warped or too thin, you’ll encounter some (or all) of the following issues:

  • Increased stopping distances
  • Squealing, squeaking, or scraping noise when the brakes are applied
  • Vibration in the brake pedal and sometimes steering wheel
  • Increased brake fade

If you experience any of the above issues, then you would need to inspect your rotors and replace them if needed. Like other brake components, you should always replace rotors in pairs.

If you have all the necessary tools, you can replace a bad rotor in less than an hour. You can save a ton of money on labor and replacement rotors. In fact, you’ll save quite a lot if you order genuine OEM replacement rotors from us because we offer great discounts on all of our products.