Brakes. Essential but not very sexy. You step on a pedal, the calipers squeeze the pads against the rotor, and the vehicle slows down and ultimately stops. Not too much to it, is there? Actually, if you drive in stop-and-go traffic, drive a Ford F 250 towing a 5,000-pound load of bricks or a nice-sized boat, bounce around crawling rocks off-road, or routinely take your ride to the track, there are many reasons why you should get to know the finer points of your brake system. Your life could depend on it.
As mentioned, brakes are essential and as vehicles have evolved, so has the technology, design, and materials used in brakes. While most sedans still have cast iron rotors as OEM, performance-oriented drivers have options that can save weight, reduce heat damage, minimize wear, and deliver better overall performance. With that in mind, here’s a quick primer on rotors to give you an idea of what performance brakes are about.
While braking systems (and performance brake kits) include more components than just rotors, we will focus on rotors because that’s where the stopping and heat occurs: