How Long Can You Drive With Bad Rotors? What Will Happen When Your Rotors Go Bad?

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Driving with warped brake rotors depends on the quality of the braking system, the condition of your car, the weight of the car, and your manner of driving.

While it’s not advised that you risk driving with damaged vehicle components, a few things come into play when it comes to determining how long you can drive without healthy brake rotors.

Needless to say, the health of your vehicle is a function of the maintenance system you have in place. Besides, you’ll need to be on the lookout for certain signs that accompany bad brake rotors. But I can tell you that sometimes these signs aren’t cast in stone; you should be an observant car owner or driver.

How Long Can You Drive With Bad Rotors?

The starting point should be to let you know what signs to watch out for once the rotors start to go bad. The prevention and fixes to these signs are also pretty important.

1. Grinding Brake Noise

One of the earliest signs that come with failing brake rotors is grinding noise. Typically, the rotors are flat and even parts; but when they’re no longer flat due to wear and other reasons, they may start to give squeaking or grinding noises.

The rotors will begin to produce some sort of squeal as its other components give off an unhealthily grinding or scraping sound.

2. Car Takes Longer Time To Stop

A longer-than-normal stopping distance is a clear sign that the rotors of your car’s braking system are failing.

Normally, when you step on the brake lever, the car is supposed to stop within a pretty short distance. However, it may take the car a few minutes more before it stops. This may cause it to start to vibrate and cause a scary sensation as you attempt to break it.

The unusually long distance the brake takes to stop your car signals an extremely bad sign that your brake rotors are in warped condition. Bad rotors weaken the ability of the brake to stop the car in an emergency situation. Fatefully, if you’re on a high speed, this may affect your safety or cause a serious accident.

3. Burning Smell

There are a lot of things associated with a burning smell when driving, including warped rotors, oil leaks, and more. When the disc brake is faulty, you may notice a burning smell when driving.

This is often caused by brakes or clutches overheating. The best time to observe the burning smell is to drive on a steep road and apply sharp brakes.

4. Groove Marks On Brake Discs

You may also notice some marks on the surface of the rotor. The groove marks on the exterior of the brake discs are both a cause and a sign of warped rotors. The marks usually come up when the disc and brake pads have had recurrent and sustained contact with each other.

Don’t forget, that the brake discs come with a specific density. This can wear down after some time, causing the rotors to get degraded with time. Overall, the ability of the vehicle to slow down will ultimately suffer.

5. Vibrations When Braking

Needless to say, warped rotors result in a scary vibration or pulsation. The reason is simple: the rotors are designed flat and even.

But when they lose their original and normal shape, they may cause the pedal to pulsate. This is because when you’re braking, the brake levers won’t have any contact with the rotor. In the end, the steering wheel, chassis, or brake pedals are the first victims.

6. Brake Lights Illuminate

When you have bad rotors, you may also notice the brake lights on your car dash. Although other reasons may cause the brake lights to come, warped rotors or the entire braking system are usually the first suspects.

It doesn’t matter when your brake pedal is on parking, driving, or in reverse, the brake light will be on. When you see this symptom, it’s time to inspect the disc brake.

What To Do With Warped Brake Rotors

What To Do With Warped Brake Rotors

If the rotors go bad, what should you do to resolve them? It’s simple. Depending on the extent of damage and how many of the rotors are in bad shape, you may not need to replace the four-wheel brakes.

Once you replace the front and rear disk brake pads and the rotors, things should be fine. However, you may only need to turn the rotors to return them to the original flat and even position.

How To Avoid Warped Brake Rotors

Although repairs, replacement, and maintenance are an essential part of driving, there are things you can do to prevent severe damage to your car.

1. Ensure Quality Braking System

It’s recommended that a car owner keep the braking system in shape. The brakes are for safety and once compromised can cause serious traffic issues, including an accident.

To avoid having bad rotors, make sure the brake is properly lubricated. When replacing bad parts of your car’s braking system, you should also go for the best brake parts. The brake pads, brake rotors, brake discs, and brake pedals must be made from top-quality materials.

2. Maintain Proper Driving Style

Ensuring all components of your vehicle are in great shape, your personal driving style has to be proper. Adhere to proper driving guidelines. You shouldn’t apply the brake pedal suddenly; don’t run at full speed in a bend.

For instance, what should you do if you notice that your highway exit is just 50ft away and you’ve gone three lanes over? How can you merge into fast traffic? What will you do if you’re coming up with a ready sign? How long should you wait to start driving if your car has a cold start in winter?

3. The Weight Of The Car

Again, how long can you drive with bad rotors’ requires knowledge of the weight of the car. There’s nothing you can possibly do about the weight of your vehicle.

For cars that are lightweight, you can still continue to drive for a few distances with warped rotors until you get to a mechanic. However, the rule doesn’t apply to vehicles that are heavyweight. All you have to do is to stop and inspect the extent of the damage.

4. Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is a no-brainer for all car owners and drivers. Keeping your car in good condition is a must and shouldn’t be a once-in-awhile thing. Visit your technician as soon as you suspect anything on the vehicle. Don’t also forget to keep to the routine of servicing the braking system.


1. What Are Brake Rotors?

Your car needs the rotors to stop. The car disc braking system features a wide range of components, including rotors. The rotors are components of the braking system which bring your car to a halt when it’s in motion.

What does this imply? Your car won’t stop, especially in an emergency situation once the rotors have become warped. If you’re unlucky, the situation may result in an accident or collision with other road users.

2. How Long Can Warped Rotors Last?

It depends on the factors I’ve identified above. Some will last longer than others, depending on usage, driving style, mileage coverage, maintenance culture, quality of material (OEM or aftermarket), the weight of the vehicle, and more.

On average, brake rotors can last from anywhere in the region of the 40,000 to 70,000-mile mark.

3. What Is The Danger If I Don’t Replace My Bad Brake Rotors?

What Is The Danger If I Don’t Replace My Bad Brake Rotors?

You shouldn’t even contemplate not changing warped brake rotors. Once you observe that the rotors are bad, replace them immediately. The consequences are dire both for your safety and the performance and life of your car engine. Pad wear is one of the immediate symptoms of uneven brake rotors.

If you don’t check the pad, you risk some sort of vibration when your vehicle is at high speed. The tires may also wobble when braking at high speed; besides, the steering column may become jerky. There could also be a failure of the anti-lock brake system.


The insight into the question ‘how long can you drive with bad rotors, cannot be more apt. As I’ve noticed, a lot goes into telling if your car can move an inch once its rotors become warped.

The rotors play an important role in the life of the car and in ensuring safety on the road. Don’t take the symptoms for granted as you may be risking a life-threatening danger.

The good news is that you don’t have to break the bank to replace your brake rotors. Averagely, something anywhere between $400 and $600 will be enough to replace the rotors. With the labor cost stranding around $200, you may have to spare about $200 to $400 to buy the parts.