How Long Can You Drive With Bad Brake Rotors?

Driving around in your car can give you the ultimate sense of freedom. However, bad brakes can turn that sense of freedom into something different altogether.

How long can you drive with bad brake rotors? It depends on various factors, including the weight of your vehicle, your driving style, and the quality of your car’s brake material. Bad brake rotors may delay braking and affect vehicle handling, which could lead to accidents.

Your car brake system requires regular maintenance and servicing to improve its efficiency. Check for signs of bad brake rotors and understand what to do to keep them in optimal condition. Replacing bad brake rotors will not only improve your vehicle performance but also enhance safety while driving.

How Long Can Brake Rotors Last?

Vehicle brake rotors can last for between 30000 and 60000 miles depending on your driving styles and vehicle type. In some cases, the brake rotors could hold out for a little bit longer.

What Are Brake Rotors?

Vehicle brake rotors are essential components of your car’s braking system. Also known as, brake discs, brake rotors are the movable parts of a vehicle’s brake system that allow your car to brake safely and efficiently.

Brake rotors are the parts of the brake system that prevent your wheels from spinning when they clamp down. In most cases, bad brake rotors are signs that your vehicle needs some maintenance.

Signs of Bad Brake Rotors

Bad brake rotors affect a vehicle’s handling and performance. Common symptoms of faulty brake discs include noise and vibrations during braking.

Noisy Brakes

One of the first signs of bad brake rotors is noise when braking. Warped or worn brake rotors may produce a squealing or squeaking sound when you brake.

In most cases, warped brake rotors produce a squeak while worn discs will produce a squeal. However, noise during braking may also be caused by worn brake pads.

Vibrations When Braking

Bad brake discs can also cause the car to vibrate or pulsate when you brake. Warped and worn brake rotors may cause vibrations that may be felt in the brake pedals, chassis, or steering wheel.

In addition, bad brake rotors may cause the brake pedal to pulsate or vibrate when pressed due to uneven brake discs. The vibrations are caused by the fact that the brake pedal is not in contact with the rotor during braking.

Marks on the Surface of the Rotor

Bad brake rotors may be caused by grooves or score marks on their surface. The marks are usually caused by prolonged and repeated contact between the discs and the brake pads.

Brake discs have specific thickness that wears down with time. Bad rotors are so degraded that they affect the overall safety of the vehicle.

Longer Stopping Distances

Groove marks on the brake discs may affect its ability to slow down the vehicle. Bad rotors may also cause the vehicle to vibrate, which may create the scary sensation that the car is not going to stop altogether.

The inability of the brakes to stop the car can be extremely dangerous, especially during high speeds. Bad rotors may affect the brake’s capacity for emergency braking.

Disc rotors play essential roles in a car’s braking system and affect vehicles’ handling and overall safety. Consider taking your vehicle to a professional technician if you suspect bad brake discs.

Brake Lights On

When the brake lights on your dashboard turn on, it means your vehicle is due for inspection and maintenance service. Brake lights may also turn on to alert you about a problem with the brake system.

The brake lights on your vehicle dashboard may also go on when the parking brake is engaged. Release the parking brake fully to check if the brake lights will go off.

Spongy or Soft Brake Pedals

If your brake pedals feel soft or spongy when pressed, consider seeing a professional vehicle technician immediately. Bad rotors may force you to press the brake pedal to the mat for the car to stop.

Differences in the resistance of brake pedals may be good indicators of bad rotors. Generally, the brakes of an auto or manual car should stop at an inch and three inches from the floor, respectively.

Erratic Vehicle Behavior during Braking

Bad brake discs may cause your vehicle to pull to one side during braking. One of the brake rotors may be applying more or all the pressure during braking, causing the car to have an imbalanced stop.

Burning Smell When Driving

Bad rotors may produce a burning smell, especially when applying sharp brakes on a steep road. The smell may be caused by overheating of the brakes or clutch.

If you experience a burning smell when driving, consider pulling your car over in a safe place, and checking if the parking brakes are fully released.

Give your brakes enough time to cool off before resuming your drive. Overheating of the brake system may cause the brake fluid to boil, which may cause brake failure.

Why You Should Be Worried About Bad Brake Rotors

Bad brake rotors may affect your vehicle’s safety and performance. Therefore, you should be worried about problems with your brake discs because of the serious problems it may cause.

Brake Failure

The erratic performance of bad brake discs may cause the brake fluid to foam up, which may prevent the braking system from receiving the required amounts of hydraulic pressure.

Bad brake rotors may cause temporary or permanent brake failure. Even temporary brake failure may cause severe damage to your car, yourself, and the passengers in your vehicle.

ABS System Problems

Cars operate pretty much like the human body. A problem with one part of the vehicle may affect other parts of the car.

On the same breath, faulty brake discs may cause problems with the vehicle ABS system. Replacing damaged brake rotors will cost you much less than repairing multiple vehicle components.

Driving Conditions

Changes in the weather may affect your vehicle’s handling and performance. When driving in the snow or on slippery roads, you need your vehicle’s braking system to work like clockwork.

A vehicle’s braking system works differently on various surfaces. It may be more challenging to make emergency stops on a slippery surface than on a dry one.

It is hard enough to make a stop when it is raining, even when the brakes are in excellent condition. Bad brake rotors worsen the situation.

Bad brake discs may cause the vehicle to vibrate and reduce the efficiency of the braking system. Replacing worn brake rotors minimizes the risk you place on yourself, passengers, and other road users when driving.

Cost of Fixing Bad Brake Rotors

The cost of fixing brake rotors depends on the extent of the damage. Visiting a mechanic and expecting to pay around $200 for brake disc replacement is quite reasonable.

The good thing about brake disc replacement is it eliminates the need to worry about the condition of your rotors for a long time. Brake discs may last between 30000 and 60000 miles.

If the damage is not so bad, you could have the brake discs resurfaced, which involves reshaping the discs to create a smooth surface. However, resurfacing can only be done a few times.

It is also essential to know that brake disc replacement should be done simultaneously. Therefore, the cost of brake rotor replacement may add up pretty fast.

Is it possible to drive with bad brake rotors? Probably. However, good driving involves considering your safety as well as the safety of your passengers and other road users.

Good drivers do not merely want to cover the distance, but they also want to do so safely. Long story short, you can drive around with bad brake rotors, but you absolutely should not.


I'm Arwood, but the grandkids call me Big Papa. After retiring from teaching automotive classes for 30+ years I decided to create a blog about all the questions I used to get about brakes!

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