Some car parts are replaced in pairs. For example, water pumps and timing belts are typically replaced together. What about brake pads and rotors, though? Do you need to buy new rotors whenever you have your brake pads replaced, or vice versa?
It is recommended, but it’s not necessary. It depends on two factors:
1. The Condition of Both Parts
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Let’s say you need to replace your brake pads. Are your rotors nearing the end of their life, or are they still in good condition? It’s up to you if you want to kill two birds with one stone and replace your rotors along with your brake pads. This way, you don’t have to keep an eye on your old rotors and then go through the trouble of replacing them when it’s time.
Typically, you would need to replace your brake pads a couple of times before you need new rotors. Aggressive driving and braking, however, may require the rotors to be replaced along with your brake pads every time.
The best way to determine the condition of your rotors and brake pads is to examine all of them at the same time. If you check your rotors, for example, it’s worth the extra few minutes to check your brake pads, as well.
Even if your rotors still have a lot of life left in them, it’s possible that they would still need to be replaced along with your brake pads. You want to check if your brake pads wore out symmetrically and if the caliper is still in good shape. If everything looks good, then the rotor can be reused with your new brake pads. They won’t even need to be bedded in.
2. The Type of Replacement Parts You Buy
There is another factor that determines if you should replace your brake rotors and pads together, or if it's ok to replace them separately. And that is whether you get OEM or aftermarket replacement parts.
If you go the OEM route with one part, then the other part is perfectly reusable. It’s because your OEM part is designed to work with the other part (if it’s OEM, as well). For example, OEM replacement brake pads will work great with the existing OEM rotors in your Toyota. As long as the rotors are in good shape, there’s no need to replace them.
If you buy an aftermarket part, then you’ll have to replace the other part, as well. It’s because aftermarket brake pads likely won’t work well with OEM rotors, and vice versa. The brake pad material may be too hard or too soft for the rotors, and you’ll end up with worn brake pads and/or worn rotors earlier than expected. If you insist on going the aftermarket route, it’s just easier to buy aftermarket brake pads and rotors that are compatible with each other.
Breaking in New Rotors
If you buy new rotors, you have to break them in. This ensures that the new rotors will work optimally while braking. You can find the proper break-in procedure here.
If you keep your old rotors with new brake pads, you don’t have to worry about breaking them in.
Friendly Reminder: The Replacements Need to be Completed Per Axle
Whether you’re replacing both your brake pads and rotors or just replacing one part, you still have to replace them on both sides of the axle. For example, even if just one rotor worn out and the other one is in good condition, you still have to replace both rotors.
Doing this ensures braking without pulling to one side, and even wear.
Got any questions about replacing your brake pads and rotors? Feel free to contact us.