It’s hard to think of a more important component on your car than the brakes.
Your brakes are crucial to keeping you safe out on the road, so it’s essential that you keep them well maintained.
Your braking system features a brake booster and master cylinder, which pressurizes hydraulic brake fluid in your brake lines, operating the pistons in the brake calipers. The caliper then squeezes the brake pad against the rotor, creating friction that slows your vehicle down.
Buying your brake rotors online, even if you plan on having them installed professionally, can save you money in the long run, as repair shops and dealerships will overcharge you for parts. You have to know what to look for if you decide to do this, though. In this article, we’re going to show you some of the best aftermarket brake rotors offered for regular, everyday vehicles. Afterward, we’ll answer some of the most common questions consumers have shopping for brake rotors, hopefully leaving you with a good idea of what brake rotors are ideal for you.
1. Editor's Pick: ACDelco Professional Brake Rotor
ACDelco’s ‘Professional’ series line of brake rotors are well-made, inexpensive and coated for rust prevention, making them a good choice for the commuter who just wants a straightforward replacement brake rotor.
Different types of Professional series rotors are available, each intended for different vehicle models, so if you’re considering these rotors, ensure you are getting the right model that will fit your vehicle.
ACDelco is a well-known purveyor of OE-quality replacement parts for General Motors vehicles, so you can buy these rotors knowing they will offer factory-like quality and braking performance. They are also ready to be installed out of the box.
2. Bosch QuietCast Rotor
Bosch’s QuietCast rotors are another OEM-style brake rotor that aims to deliver factory-like quality and braking performance without being too expensive. If you want an OEM quality brake rotor but are looking to save a bit of money, Bosch QuietCast rotors are worth checking out.
These rotors are made from aluminum and have a zinc coating to protect against rust and extend their operating window. They will fit just like an OEM rotor would and come ready to install. They will perform as advertised and shouldn’t give you any trouble in regards to installation or operation.
We’d suggest these rotors to anyone looking for a replacement set of brakes for their commuter vehicle.
3. ACDelco Advantage Non-Coated Rotor
The ACDelco Advantage non-coated rotors are similar to the Professional series coated rotors above, but are much less expensive.
This is about as simple and straightforward as replacement, non-OE brake rotors get. They are made of multiple metal alloys and come ready to install – no machining, balancing or any extra work required.
These rotors will perform as you need them to and serve as a relatively good quality replacement for your factory brake rotors. Just make sure they fit your vehicle – ACDelco parts are typically intended for GM vehicles.
4. DuraGo Premium Electrophoretic Brake Rotor
Don’t get too confused by the ‘Electrophoretic’ name given to this brake rotor set from DuraGo – that’s just the corrosion-preventing coating that they are covered in.
This brake rotor set aims to be highly corrosion resistant, which may make them good if you live in an area with harsh weather and long winters. They come ready to install and promise to provide smooth, vibration-free performance.
We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these to anyone looking to replace the factory brakes on their commuter vehicle. They are less expensive than OEM brakes, will perform well and hold up over time.
Like always, ensure these brakes will fit your vehicle before you order them. Amazon’s built-in ‘Will it Fit?’ tool for this is extremely helpful.
5. DuraGo Vented Disc Brake Rotor
These are the same brake rotors as those above from DuraGo, but this version does not have the fancy electrophoretic coating. They also don’t have the black-painted center, which is only applied for aesthetic reasons.
While these won’t be as corrosion resistant as the coated versions, they are less expensive. If you live in an area that doesn’t get harsh winter weather, these brakes should be fine and won’t experience severe rusting issues. Coated brakes are worth it in areas where road salt is used commonly and in heavy quantities, however.
As always, ensure these brake rotors fit the vehicle you own.
6. Centric Parts Premium Brake Rotor
This premium brake rotor from Centric Parts is a coated rotor that aims to prevent rust and corrosion.
A unique part about this rotor is the machine finish. With a textured surface (that will eventually wear away, it should be said) these brakes will look nice when first installed. They also have black-painted cooling vanes and a black-painted center part, which also makes them look a little bit nicer.
These rotors are good quality and will come in at about half the price (or less) of OEM rotors. They provide smooth, strong stopping performance and will last a long while before warping or needing to be replaced, even if you drive your car every day.
If you drive aggressively or have a faster or heavier vehicle, you may experience some wear after using these brakes for a while. They are a budget product, so if you’re not driving a relatively cheap commuter car, we’d look at higher quality brakes.
As always, ensure these rotors fit your vehicle before you buy them.
7. Wagner Premium E-Coated Brake Rotor
Wagner’s coated rake rotors are simply an alternative to other very similar products like the coated rotors from Centric and DuraGo above. They have a similar design, a similar pricetag and similar braking performance.
Rotors like these won’t decrease stopping distances over your factory rotors, but they serve as a budget-friendly alternative to OEM replacement rotors, which are quite a bit more expensive. You may trade some build quality in for the lower price, but rotors like these are perfectly fine on less expensive commuter cars.
Wagner’s budget brake rotors are coated for corrosion and rust protection and feature a black painted center for a more high-quality look. They are less expensive than a lot of other cheap, coated rotors as well, so if you really hate spending money on car parts, they could be the ideal rotors you.
8. Raybestos Advanced Technology Disc Brake Rotor
Don’t be put off by the name – these brakes contain no asbestos or anything harmful. They are just simple, alloy coated rotors.
While these are a bit more expensive than other comparable budget rotors for daily driven cars, they are of good quality and are well-suited to stopping heavier vehicles.
The ‘Advanced Technology’ rotors are Raybestos’ mid-grade rotors. They are coated in corrosion preventing material and are designed to provide smooth and quiet braking performance.
Raybestos says these rotors are well-suited for fleet vehicles as they are offered for trucks and SUVs, will last quite a long time and aren’t expensive to replace.
What are the Different Types of Brake Rotors?
There are two types of brakes: disc brakes and drum brakes. Drum brakes aren’t used on very many production vehicles anymore, so it’s likely that your car has disc brakes.
There are also different styles of disk brakes. Most cars have smooth rotors, while some have slotted rotors with grooves cut into their surface.
Slotted rotors dissipate heat better, reducing brake fade in hard driving scenarios, such as when you are going downhill with a heavy vehicle or when you are on the race track.
Drilled rotors have holes drilled into them and look to provide improved brake cooling, similar to slotted rotors. They also allow water to escape the brake’s surface better, which can lead to improved braking performance in the rain, but this isn’t relevant on the road – only on the race track. There also drilled and slotted rotors that have grooves and holes drilled into them.
While drilled and/or slotted rotors can improve braking performance, many consumers want them because they look cool.
Should I Change my Brake Pads With my Rotors?
While you can change only your rotors and leave your existing brake pads, it makes sense to change both at the same time.
You will already have to take apart your brake assemblies to install the new rotors, so may as well throw some new pads on there while you are at it. This will ensure even wear between your pads and rotors, reducing the chance that you will wear your pads or rotors unevenly. This will also provide much better braking feel and performance than if you changed just the rotors.
Brake pads are inexpensive and easy to install, so we’d highly suggest picking up new pads with your new rotors.
What About the Brake Fluid?
Rotors need to be changed every 70,000 miles or so, while pads need to be changed every 40,000 miles or so. Most manufacturers suggest changing your brake fluid every couple of years, or every 20,000 miles. If you haven’t changed your brake fluid recently, you might as well change it at the same time you change your rotors.
If you don’t know what type of brake fluid to get, consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Because brakes are crucial to the safety of those around you, and yourself, you should stick to what the manufacturer suggests.
Our Final Verdict
Still not sure what brake rotors are the best for your needs? Here are two of our favorite choices below based on different applications.
Best Overall Rotors: the best overall OE replacement rotor for commuters is the AC Delco Professional Brake Rotor. They are high quality, inexpensive, look good and made by a reputable manufacturer. They are also available for a wide variety of makes and models. We’d highly recommend these to owners of mass market GM vehicles.
Best Rotors for Trucks/SUVs: the best truck and SUV rotors on our budget-friendly list are the Raybestos Advanced Technology Rotor. They are bulky and well-built, but still not too expensive.
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