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Old 04-21-2011, 05:24 PM   #1
hoody123
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Default Brake life?

So, I have a fairly vague question regarding brake life/work. My wife took my car in to the local chevy dealer to have the winter/summer tires swapped. They told her that the car is in need of a brake service.

Car has 115k on it, virtually all highway driving and rarely ever driven hard. I don't doubt that the pads might require changing, but they also said I need new rotors. Apparently the parts (pads and rotors) for just the front come in at $500... Seems a bit steep (and surprising that I need rotors?) to me.

Admittedly I'm wildly inept when it comes to vehicles, so I don't really know.

Is it reasonable to need rotors now? The brakes still work great and I'm not getting any noise/shimmy/anything when the brakes are applied.

Thanks in advance for any advice!
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Old 04-21-2011, 06:34 PM   #2
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Default Re: Brake life?

Yeah. I'd say with 115k it is pretty reasonable. I had to replace the rotors on my golf at 90k. You could have a bit left on the rotors and they are giving you a hard sell but hard to say.

I would check ebay for some rotors and pads. There are some good deals there and then just take it to a mechanic to have them installed.

I did that with one of my cars and saved $700 on all four.

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Old 04-22-2011, 08:26 PM   #3
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Default Re: Brake life?

You'll want to be cautious with inexpensive rotors. A lot of them come from China and a lot of corners are cut to sell an inexpensive rotor. Compare the pic of the rotors made for the same vehicle, with the OEM ones on the right. Check out the link for more info and a video.


http://www.badbrakes.net/

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Old 04-22-2011, 09:23 PM   #4
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Default Re: Brake life?

Quote:
Originally Posted by phatfire6 View Post
You'll want to be cautious with inexpensive rotors. A lot of them come from China and a lot of corners are cut to sell an inexpensive rotor. Compare the pic of the rotors made for the same vehicle, with the OEM ones on the right. Check out the link for more info and a video.


http://www.badbrakes.net/

I second phatfire's post....


i have had much luck with the mid-level 2yr warranted rotors from auto-zone.
only finding that out after going through 2 sets of the 1 yr warranted rotors and my 1 set of duralast gold ceramics pads warping them both before i swapped.



if you were handy around a car and have the tools, you'd be free of the outrageous prices shops and dealerships charge.

but alas, it sounds as if you are at the mercy of the dealerships pricing.

but you can save a few dollars by bringing your own parts for them to install

i couldn't imagine paying $500 for a brake job.
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Old 04-23-2011, 02:25 AM   #5
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Default Re: Brake life?

Brake rotors these days aren't very far from minimum tolerance when manufactured to keep unsprung weight down. No reason to have all that iron spinning on the ground when you can make the rotor a tiny bit thinner and make the whole car feel better. Once you get some miles on a car, those rotors are going to be worn past minimum. I'm surprised that the front AND rears on our Astra are still in good shape. Actually now that I'm thinking about it, I want to check to see if I have a frozen rear.

If you're going to purchase aftermarket brake rotors, buy at LEAST Brembo units. They're the OEM for a lot of rotors, and are typically the best you can buy without going to some uber race rotor.

Tire Rack prices their ATE rotors for the 5 door XR at $91 each. I've found Brembo blanks on eBay for a little over $100 each. Unless you like swapping rotors out, this is something you should spend decent money on.

Where do you live? There might be a member local to you that's willing to help you out with the labor.
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Old 04-23-2011, 03:04 AM   #6
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Default Re: Brake life?

but there is really no use for a rotor like that for a normal every day driver.
now if it was a track car... YES.
but he did say the car sees a lot of highway miles.

now at a $100 a corner, that is just insane.

autozone for the astra
i just priced $71 per rotor for the fronts
and $44 per rotor for the rears

and the rear rotors more than likely don't even need to be replaced, but you may need to change the pads.
you have to remember that 70% of your braking force is in your front wheels.
the other 30% is the rears.

heck. i changed 3 sets of rotors and pads on the front of my s-series before i had to change the shoes and drums on the back .
and when i did change the drums and shoes on the back of the car at 150k miles, they still looked brand new and were in perfect adjustment.


some mechanics like to say you need things you really don't need to get an extra buck out of ya.
if he says you really need them, then you might but i'd find a cheaper alternative.

Last edited by southaeastpunk; 04-23-2011 at 03:13 AM.
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Old 04-23-2011, 04:02 AM   #7
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Default Re: Brake life?

Cheap rotors don't have the amount of metal that good rotors have. You always get better service out of better rotors. I've never had a single set of Autozone rotors last more than a year. I've had some that "warped" in a week.

The only way to be 100% sure the rotors still have life is to measure them yourself. If the lowest spot is above minimum thickness and there's little runout, you can likely have them machined and be fine. Like I said, though, you can't machine rotors as many times as you could in the past.

A few guys here have had rears need replacement under 30,000 miles. So far, mine look like I can double the 42,000 miles on the car before having to replace them, unless I take the car autocrossing a few times.

When I see someone say that their car sees a lot of highway miles, I think of how often deer run out in front of them, resulting in a panic stop. 4,000 pounds takes a good bit of force to bring down from 70MPH. Do you want paper thin warped rotors on something you're going to panic stop in, or do you want the best brakes you can have?
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Old 04-23-2011, 04:57 AM   #8
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Default Re: Brake life?

the duralasts really are adequate.
it's not like you are stopping world from spinning.
for the average daily driver they meet OEM specs and get the job done.
and the average daily driver doesn't come anywhere close to taxing their brakes to the limit 90% of the time.

you just need to make sure you buy the mid level or golds.
and torque your lugs with a torque wrench to factory spec to prevent premature warping. (people forget this rule every time)

i couldn't justify putting brembos on a daily driver. (waste of money)

you'll see no significant performance differences unless they were cross drilled.
or carbon ceramic rotors (EXPENSIVE and only available to select vehicles)


i don't have problems stopping on my duralasts in my s-series and all i drive is highway miles.

Last edited by southaeastpunk; 04-23-2011 at 05:04 AM.
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Old 04-23-2011, 09:39 AM   #9
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Default Re: Brake life?

Quote:
Originally Posted by southaeastpunk View Post
but there is really no use for a rotor like that for a normal every day driver.
now if it was a track car... YES.
but he did say the car sees a lot of highway miles.

now at a $100 a corner, that is just insane.

autozone for the astra
i just priced $71 per rotor for the fronts
and $44 per rotor for the rears

and the rear rotors more than likely don't even need to be replaced, but you may need to change the pads.
you have to remember that 70% of your braking force is in your front wheels.
the other 30% is the rears.

The cheap Chinese rotors they sell at Autozone are not worth the metal they're made from. They will warp and wear out in a few miles. It is not worth it - you got 115k miles out of your OEM rotors- don't try to save a few dollars just for something that will actually cost you more in the long run.

I know it's getting harder and harder to find properly manufactured rotors made from a good alloy with correct thickness, but in this case I would either buy GM OEM rotors or seek out a high quality manufacturer like Brembo.

Don't be fooled by Autozone's "low price"...
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Old 04-23-2011, 01:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: Brake life?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vanilla sky View Post
If the lowest spot is above minimum thickness and there's little runout,
Any idea what minimum thickness actually is?
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Old 04-23-2011, 01:57 PM   #11
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Default Re: Brake life?

Even Raybestos has farmed out most their rotor manufacture to China. Raybestos is supposed to be one of the best...

It's a sad situation with almost everything being made in China.

10 years ago most all rotors were manufactured in Canada and the US. Now I can't find a rotor or an aftermarket wheel that doesn't come from China.

Here's the Astra brake specs I found...
Front Brake Rotor Diam x Thickness (in): 12.2 x 1.0
Rear Brake Rotor Diam x Thickness (in): 10.4 x 0.4
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Old 04-23-2011, 04:03 PM   #12
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Default Re: Brake life?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobbyP View Post
Even Raybestos has farmed out most their rotor manufacture to China. Raybestos is supposed to be one of the best...

It's a sad situation with almost everything being made in China.

10 years ago most all rotors were manufactured in Canada and the US. Now I can't find a rotor or an aftermarket wheel that doesn't come from China.

Here's the Astra brake specs I found...
Front Brake Rotor Diam x Thickness (in): 12.2 x 1.0
Rear Brake Rotor Diam x Thickness (in): 10.4 x 0.4
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Old 04-24-2011, 11:46 AM   #13
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Default Re: Brake life?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vanilla sky View Post
A few guys here have had rears need replacement under 30,000 miles. So far, mine look like I can double the 42,000 miles on the car before having to replace them, unless I take the car autocrossing a few times.
22,000 miles for me. Needed four brake pads and rotors were turned.

But, I don't suspect faulty parts or anything like that. I purchased the car with a whopping 9,000 miles on it and on the test drive I noticed the brakes were slightly warped, but dismissed it. I figured I could get 40,000 out of the rotors by braking easy and downshifting.

Then of course I wanted to buy a set of steelies so I wouldn't have to switch out winter/all seasons on my 17's on an annual basis. Ended up I bought slightly better, but not great all season tires for the 17's, and found a set of 16's steelies shortly after

The tires I bought really were not up for the winter we had and I suspect that Stabilitrak was braking much more than I imagined to keep the car going in a straight line, hence the low brake pads all around. It was actually to the point where I could downshift to 2nd or 1st and have more stopping power than my actual brakes, I'd often use downshifting and braking in conjunction.

I guess I'll prove my theory right or wrong this winter when I purchase a set of dedicated snow tires, hopefully it was just Stabilitrak and not pads that wear out quick.
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Old 04-24-2011, 12:47 PM   #14
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Default Re: Brake life?

Heh-heh! Careful what you naysayers say about Chinese rotors. Without documented proof that they're inferior to equally made rotors from anywhere else, those touting Brembos or higher priced parts aren't playing fair to begin with. Compare Chinese rotors to an equal from anywhere then speak up. And use documemted proof that one is inferior. There are many here, including me using white box rotors without any issues whatsoever. In NYC, driving can be as hazardous as anywhere else and when I need my brakes, they're there for me. I didn't go cheap because I'm cheap, I went with a product that works, period. This controversy over rotors is just like oil wars about who's better. There are no winners. Oil is oil. Rotors are rotors and I challenge anyone to show documented proof that Chinese rotors are inferior in performance. Not the amount of material but in performance. Please show me proof that one set of rotors cannot stop any sooner than slotted/cross drilled/cryo treated/whatever.

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Old 04-24-2011, 01:57 PM   #15
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Default Re: Brake life?

I'm beginning to think most people here would be happy driving around in Yugos.

Thin rotors made with inferior metal warp and wear MUCH faster than good rotors. I won't buy cheap rotors anymore because I've had so many problems out of them MYSELF. If you want me to document it, pony up the dough and I'll buy some scrap metal from Advancezone and show you how bad cheap rotors are.

Here's a comparison for you. 1988 Honda Accord Lxi, which means bigger front brakes than a carbureted model. I get 2 days autocrossing out of a set of cheap rotors. Good pads eat right through them. I bought a set of Brembo blanks and I've been using them for 2 seasons.
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Old 04-24-2011, 04:42 PM   #16
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Default Re: Brake life?

You want documented proof? Please read pages I-21 and I-22 of this publication from the US International Trade Commission on Brake Rotors from China, publication 4009, dated June 2008.

http://www.usitc.gov/publications/701_731/pub4009.pdf
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Old 04-24-2011, 05:08 PM   #17
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And here is another document worth reading.

http://www.hendonpub.com/resources/a...aspx?ID=208101
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Old 04-24-2011, 05:33 PM   #18
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Default Re: Brake life?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vanilla sky View Post
I'm beginning to think most people here would be happy driving around in Yugos.

Thin rotors made with inferior metal warp and wear MUCH faster than good rotors. I won't buy cheap rotors anymore because I've had so many problems out of them MYSELF. If you want me to document it, pony up the dough and I'll buy some scrap metal from Advancezone and show you how bad cheap rotors are.

Here's a comparison for you. 1988 Honda Accord Lxi, which means bigger front brakes than a carbureted model. I get 2 days autocrossing out of a set of cheap rotors. Good pads eat right through them. I bought a set of Brembo blanks and I've been using them for 2 seasons.
Sorry, but I don't think I'll accomodate you for another poor comparison between racing a car and everyday driving. Obviously you along with many others feel inferior products are not to bought but perhaps you don't want to use common sense with fair comparison as I used. Autocrossing is not every day driving so your argument doesn't have any merit. Use the argument along with documantation to prove one rotor is inferior to another in normal everyday use and I'll read it.
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Old 04-24-2011, 06:02 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phatfire6 View Post
You want documented proof? Please read pages I-21 and I-22 of this publication from the US International Trade Commission on Brake Rotors from China, publication 4009, dated June 2008.

http://www.usitc.gov/publications/701_731/pub4009.pdf
Thank you, I will read this.
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Old 04-24-2011, 06:31 PM   #20
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Default Re: Brake life?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
Sorry, but I don't think I'll accomodate you for another poor comparison between racing a car and everyday driving. Obviously you along with many others feel inferior products are not to bought but perhaps you don't want to use common sense with fair comparison as I used. Autocrossing is not every day driving so your argument doesn't have any merit. Use the argument along with documantation to prove one rotor is inferior to another in normal everyday use and I'll read it.
I autocrossed a lot when I lived in NY. Sorry, your argument fails. If a product lasts two weekends in an autocross then warps, or fails faster than a competitors produc that product will fail on the street faster than a competitors product on the street.

But, since you seem to know it all, I wont bother explaining the obvious to you.

I put centric premium on the boss' xc90. At 75 a front rotor they were a compromise. the problem with rotors is you dont know what you have unless you are a metalurgist and test different ones side by side.

OP, with the car stopped and brake on, stick your finger between the spokes of the wheel and feel if there is a lip on the edge of the rotor. If about as thick as a fingernail they are ready.

If still not sure take a flashlight and shine it through the spokes to see how much pad is left. If you cant see, take a wheel off and look.

If not comfortable doing that, take the car to a local shop and ask them to look. they can point out what you are looking for.

go to www.tirerack.com and price rotors and pads. then go to a gm place on the web and price. 500 for four rotors and pads installed with a fluid flush is not excessive IMHO. http://www.tirerack.com/brakes/resul...8&autoModClar=
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