101 Guide to Choosing Brake Rotors

When it comes to choosing brake rotors, there are a few different options to consider. Smooth rotors are a popular choice for those who own premium vehicles that are not driven aggressively, as they tend to reduce noise, dust, and pad wear. They are also a popular choice among racers who need to go long distances without changing their brake pads, although they may not offer as much stopping power as other options. Smooth rotors are typically the most affordable option.

Why Opt for Rotors With Directional Vanes?

Another option to consider is rotors with directional vanes, which are designed with internal cooling in mind. These rotors may offer superior cooling performance compared to standard rotors and can be purchased as aftermarket components. It’s worth noting that while some people believe that rotors with directional vanes perform better than other options, this is not always the case.

Choosing Slotted and Drilled Rotors as an Alternative

Slotted and drilled rotors offer a middle ground, combining some of the benefits of smooth rotors with those of rotors with directional vanes. These disc rotors work well on the street but are not recommended for racing vehicles. They are often installed as original equipment on luxury vehicles, although this is more for marketing purposes than for performance.

Best Brake Rotors for High Performance Vehicles

For racing vehicles, floating rotors may be the best choice. These rotors are split into two halves that are attached to aluminum caps or mounting bells using float hardware, allowing the rotors to expand freely as they warm up. This helps to reduce the risk of the rotors shattering under the stress of racing and can also lead to more even pad wear and a firmer brake pedal. Additionally, floating rotors may help extend the life of wheel bearings by reducing the amount of heat transferred to them through conduction.

Choosing Your Rotors Based on Use 

In addition to these factors, you should also consider the brand and quality of the rotors you are considering. Cheap, low-quality rotors may not perform as well and may not last as long as higher-quality rotors. It is generally a good idea to choose rotors from a reputable brand that has a proven track record of producing high-quality brake components. In most cases, you will be better off asking for professional input in case you are new to working on your own vehicles. 


When shopping for brake rotors, it’s important to choose a product that will work well with your brake pads and provide reliable performance. You may want to consult with a mechanic or parts store clerk to find the best options for your needs. There are many different composite materials available for brake pads, and you may have as many as eight different choices to consider. In terms of rotor classification, you can choose from slotted, drilled, cross-drilled, and hybrid slotted/cross-drilled performance rotors. Keep in mind that slotted rotors, in particular, may be louder than non-slotted options due to the increased air turbulence they create.

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