Top 8 Best Brake Rotors
By | Last updated: May 28, 2021
Best Replacement Brake Rotors

Let’s get one thing clear from the start – you shouldn’t skimp on brake products. They are, after all, one of the only things on your car between it and a nasty crash.

If you’re not sure about the process or procedure to replace the brake rotors on your car, take it to a professional mechanic. Spending a few extra bucks on installation beats the heck out of the sinking feeling one gets when hammering the brake pedal only to find forward motion is not decreasing. Take it from a guy who has owned cars whose brakes could be best described as ‘hesitators’ or ‘delayers’: having crap brakes is not fun.

Also note that we haven’t specified a singular make and model for each of these brake rotors. Some will fit your vehicle, some will not. Be sure to check your application carefully before hitting the Buy button. A pro may give you options other than the ones shown here, as well.

With that out of the way, here are eight picks for replacement brake rotors.

1. Editor’s Pick: Bosch QuietCast Premium Disc Brake Rotor

Despite their importance, most car owners have a list of things as long as their arm of stuff on which they’d rather spend their hard earned cash than automotive wear items. Hey, we’re not all track rats who swap out pads and rotors on a weekly basis. Forced to spend money on this stuff, these discs from Bosch seem to be a good spend based on overwhelmingly positive reviews from nearly 2,000 customers. So it’s no surprise they make our list of the best replacement brake rotors.

The company says these rotors are precision balanced to insure smooth operation with no pedal pulsation. Anyone who’s had the fillings shaken out of their head when hitting the brake pedal knows the value of that. OEM-style vane configuration is said to provide more efficient heat dissipation, reduces vibration that can cause noise, and extends rotor life.

Pros/Excellent brand name, glowing reviews from a large sample size
Cons/Not available for some makes and models
Bottom Line/There's a reason Bosch has been in business for 134 years

2. Upgrade King: Power Stop Drilled/Slotted Rotors and Ceramic Brake Pads

This one’s for the gearhead or shadetree mechanic who fancies themselves an Indy or F1 protégé. Styling of brake discs mean a lot to some people, especially when paired with a set of wheels whose open-spoke design leave little to the imagination as to what’s going on behind the scenes. These rotors deliver in that department, festooned with drilled holes and slots to make any whip look like something about to attack the Nurburgring.

In fact, this kit includes more than just the silver platters. Most applications also include a set of brake pads, meaning one doesn’t have to click around and find pads to go with their stoppers. The seller says they’re coated with zinc to prevent that unsightly rust which appears when a vehicle has been sitting for extended periods of time. Those pads are reinforced with carbon fibers, by the way, meaning that owners of these brakes can legitimately (if ambiguously) say they’ve got brakes just like a Porsche 911.

Pros/Looks great, comes with brake pads
Cons/People may ask to drag at stoplights
Bottom Line/Dandy yet affordable upgrade

3. Cheap Trick: ACDelco Advantage Non-Coated Disc Brake Rotor

Recall our warning earlier about not skimping on brake supplies? That still applies but we would be remiss if we didn’t list the cheapest brake rotor we could find. At less than the price of a Big Mac meal, there’s really no excuse in putting off you vehicle’s maintenance. These are also said to be “mill-balanced” but your author has had trouble in the past with cheap rotors warping not long after installation.

Beyond that, there’s not much to distinguish these el cheapo units from other low-cost brake discs on the market. They’re silver. They’re round. A vane configuration maximizes airflow to keep the rotor running cool instead of heating up faster than debate at a political convention. That’s for daily use, of course – don’t expect these things to hold up under frequent track abuse.

Pros/Easy to buy, cheaper than McDonald’s
Cons/Don’t cheap out on brake parts (is there an echo in here?)
Bottom Line/Will get you through a state inspection

4. EBC Brakes GD1697 3GD Series Dimpled and Slotted Sport Rotor

Did I just put a set of brakes costing nearly $4,000 on this list? Yewbetcha. EBC is a well known brand in the performance sphere, supplying brake products to the likes of amateur and pro racers. These platters have wide slots to help them run up to 200 degrees cooler than normal, while their chemical composition reduces brake fade under load and at speed.

ALSO SEE: Buyers Guide: Top 8 Best LED Headlights for Your Car

It’s not just track rats who can benefit from this braking technology. The company also offers this product for trucks and SUVs, machines which are often tasked with hauling heavy trailers in demanding conditions. Solid braking characteristics are just as critical here as it is at Road America, so it’s good to see the company expanding its lineup of products into new vehicle markets.

Pros/Stops on a dime with nine cents change, looks the business
Cons/Wallet hoovering price
Bottom Line/An true example of 'pay to play'

5. Wilwood Brake Kit with Drilled Rotors

We’d be remiss to create a list of brake products without including the Wilwood brand. Long the darling of Saturday morning car repair shows – or at least the brand with a high budget for product placement – Wilwood has a great reputation for making top-notch products with a price to match its performance.

That’s the case here, though it must be said this particular kit comes with not just slotted rotors and pads but also a pair of calipers. As for the latter, the seller says their four stainless steel pistons provide fully balanced pad loading, along with the corrosion resistance and thermal retardant qualities of a stainless alloy.

Pros/Killer appearance, great reputation and reviews
Cons/Not cheap by any measure
Bottom Line/The good stuff always costs more money

6. R1 eLine Plain Brake Rotors

If there was a prize for humility, we’d give it to this company. Instead of marketing these brake rotors as ‘essential’ or ‘OE’ or even ‘non-slotted’, they called them … plain. Plain. Like those potato chips that go uneaten at a party. In any event, this package includes a quartet of brake rotors and eight ceramic brake pads with hardware.

Speaking to the, erm, plain nature of these items are billed as replacement rotors that are not drilled or slotted. Nevertheless, the ad says they offer equal quality as OEM rotors but at an affordable price. Every rotor apparently uses an iron grade of G3000 to provide great stability and braking power.

Pros/Affordable, available in an array of applications
Cons/Some reports of spotty build quality
Bottom Line/Be sure to use proper break-in procedures

7. Raybestos Professional Grade Disc Brake Rotor

Few names are as well recognized in this segment as Raybestos. While a few people think the company has comprised their quality of late, there are still plenty of satisfied customers if the reviews on this product is any indication. It’s one of the few products – any product, not just automotive stuff – that has a full slate of five-star ratings (as of this writing), despite a customer reporting having to hit the hub portion and outer edges with a shot of high-temp paint to forestall rust.

Built by a company with more than a few years in the business, these silver hats are the Professional Grade series, this full-coverage rotor has options covering 99.8% of import and domestic cars, light trucks, and SUVs. The non-directional ground finish means it’s ready to install right out of the box. This is helpful in a busy shop where mechanics don’t want to spend time on unnecessary prep tasks, whether or not they’re working on hourly.

Pros/Top-shelf reviews, known brand
Cons/Reports of surface rust
Bottom Line/Wear rubber gloves during installation

8. Wagner Premium E-Coated Brake Rotor

This company likes to tout their E-Shield coating system which, sadly missing a ‘green’ opportunity – has nothing to do with electrification. Rather, it refers to an exclusive protective coating cooked up by Wagner engineers in the lab and applied to all non-braking surfaces to prevent corrosion. The bag in which they are packed is said to have properties to reduce rotor prep time.

A targeted range of Wagner Premium rotors are manufactured with patented, application-specific vane designs that deliver greater cooling capabilities for more effective stopping power. These specialized rib designs deliver smoother braking by controlling noise, vibration, and harshness. Tight tolerance specifications reduce thickness variation and lateral run-out for a balanced rotor.

Pros/Affordable, confidence inspiring ad copy
Cons/Some customers complain of noisy operation
Bottom Line/There's actual R&D in these things

Brake Rotor FAQs

How difficult is it to install brake rotors?

Depends on your level of skill. At its core, replacing a brake rotor is no more difficult than installing a tire and wheel set. However, getting to the rotor can be a trial, with calipers and all manner of delicate parts and items in the way. Since the braking system is the main safety component of your car, be sure to call in help if you’re not confident in the repair.

Are special tools required to install a set of brake rotors?

Generally speaking, no – at least not for the rotors themselves. However, other components of the braking system, especially the calipers which require pistons to be pushed back into their seats, can often require a specialized set of tools … or at least the shadetree know-how to figure out a workaround.

How do brake rotors wear out over time?

If a car’s brake pads get worn to the point of complete destruction, the metal-on-metal contact will create grooves in the rotor’s surface, potentially ruining them. Also, repeated hard use can overheat the rotors, warping them to the point where even so much as lightly pressing the brake pedal will cause shuddering. Physical failure due to a manufacturing defect, though, is relatively rare.

UPDATES:

  • Replaced eLine Gold Drilled Brake Rotors+Ceramic Pads with Wilwood Brake Kit with Drilled Rotors
  • Replaced Detroit Axle Premium Disc Brake Rotors with R1 eLine Plain Brake Rotors

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Main photo credit: Wanich Sirilon / ShutterStock.com. Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

10 Comments on “Best Replacement Brake Rotors: Stop That...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “you shouldn’t skimp on brake products”

    True, but you also don’t want to overpay.

    I don’t do tracks, but I have tried drilled and/or slotted rotors on DDs such as an underbraked minivan. I found the pedal feedback and acoustic hum annoying, and the pad wear wasn’t worth it. Without instrumentation, it wasn’t obvious that they worked better, either.

    At this point, I’m in a Raybestos/Wagner rut. They seem to be hitting a sweet spot for price and performance on my Hyundai/Kia fleet.

  • avatar
    aja8888

    What? no Brembo? No need to ask why….

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    A bit surprised Powerstop didn’t make the list.

    The PNW is tough on brake rotors pre-COVID. Heavy stop and go traffic and traffic light sprints coupled with misty cool weather are tough on rotors.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    It’s interesting to go to Rockauto, input a common high volume model, and see rotor selections from $6.85 to 80 bucks.
    It’s amazing China’s Finest can make a part like that, ship it to the US, and somebody makes a profit for 7 bucks.

  • avatar
    JMII

    PowerStop fan here. I have them on my truck, the wife’s car and use their pads (not rotors) on my C7 for daily driving. For the track I run DBA rotors and Raybestos pads.

    True track drivers avoid drilled because removing the material creates a weak spots that allow the rotor to crack under the thermal loads a track car sees. Instead just get slotted.

    For most people I would recommend Centric, they are made by StopTech and generally available as affordable OEM replacements for pretty much any make or model. Rock Auto is my go to for sourcing these, but occasionally Amazon will have better deals once shipping is factored in.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Brake stuff:

    a) The job of brakes is to change friction into heat. More mass is better. Don’t turn the old rotors, get new rotors.

    b) Around 70% of the braking occurs on the front brakes (my dad said; this link says he was right). If you have brake issues, address the front brakes first.

    https://help.summitracing.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/5295/~/what-is-brake-bias%3F

    c) “Warping” is not what many people think it is.

    A relatively weak explanation:
    https://www.autoblog.com/2015/11/30/why-do-brake-rotors-warp/

    A deeper look from down under:
    https://www.mechanic.com.au/news/solved-the-mystery-of-warped-brake-rotors

    Getting closer:
    https://alconkits.com/support/brake-pad-info/110-the-real-truth-about-warped-brake-rotors

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      The way you drive makes a huge difference for your brakes:

      0. Bed the brakes properly when new. There is an 87.5% chance you won’t be able to do this safely and correctly on the streets and roads where you find yourself driving your vehicle with newly-installed rotors and pads. (How well can you deal with ambiguity?)

      1. Many ‘enthusiast’ drivers abuse the brakes when driving in normal around-town conditions. Coming to a hard full stop and leaving your foot nailed to the brake pedal [with the hot pad and the hot rotor squeezed tightly together in one position] is an excellent way to imprint the rotor. Learn to drive. (“Slow is smooth and smooth is fast” – so say U.S. Navy SEALs.)

      2. If you have near-misses with the rear bumper of the vehicle in front of you more than about once every 2 years, you have a problem you need to address.

      3. Under normal driving conditions on a relatively open interstate, it is entirely possible to drive between exits without touching the brakes [if you anticipate correctly].

      4. Heavy brake dust accumulation on the front wheels can be an excellent indicator of unresolved anger issues (helpful to know when your daughter’s new date shows up at your house).

      https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/signs-anger-issues

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      B) I’ve had much more trouble with rear brakes than fronts, they do so little work in reasonable street driving that they don’t boil the water off leading to more rust and eventually sticking and dragging the calipers. Add to that the pads are half the size of the ones up front so they don’t last any longer either.

  • avatar
    wjtinfwb

    I’ve had good experience with NAPA’s premium or “Gold” series of rotors. Particularly on my 7k lb. Ford Excursion that could eat through the OEM rotors in 20k miles. I got 50k out of the last set of NAPA rotors before the warping and attendant pulsating brake pedal drove me to replacement. I believe they we’re about $60 each a few years ago.

  • avatar
    rodhotter

    not a place to cheap out, got a full setup of EBC stuff for my 2011 lo mile fronty SV for much better braking! they got better metallurgy an unseen difference, rotors made in UK + yellow pads in USA, also use their stuff on several motorcycles. mid priced for good quality as many rotors are Chinese, not all bad but a crap shoot IMO!!

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