What makes rotors warp?
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Cadillac CTS First Generation Forum - 2003 - 2007 Discussion, What makes rotors warp? in Cadillac CTS Coupe, Sport Sedan and Sport Wagon Forums; I'm trying to confirm some suspicions I have about my brakes. I had the typical steering wheel shake and vibration ...
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    propninja's Avatar
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    What makes rotors warp?

    I'm trying to confirm some suspicions I have about my brakes. I had the typical steering wheel shake and vibration that comes with warped rotors. I changed out the front rotors and pads, but while the steering wheel no longer shakes when I apply the brakes the car still does, though to a lesser degree. My suspicion is that the rear rotors are warped. I realize that they don't work as hard as the front rotors, but are they still subject to warpage? It's not a huge problem, but I expect better from a Cadillac, not to mention having a mechanic trying to sell me a brake job and telling me my rotors were warped after I spent $200 on new rotors and pads three months earlier.

    Thoughts?

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    AmericanMuscle is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: What makes rotors warp?

    To answer your question, two primary causes; 1) On newer rotors it is classic over torquing of lug nuts and 2) on older rotors with miles on them, its wear.

    Best thing you can do is invest in a good torque wrench and torque the lug nuts to spec (usually 100 ft/lbs.) especially after a commercial garage uses air impact guns on your wheels.

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    LastOneLeft is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: What makes rotors warp?

    One way for rotors to be warped is when your brakes are hot from usage and you drive through a puddle of water. The water hits the rotors causing it to be warped...maybe that can help u a bit...

    Another personal issue: I ordered rotors before that were warped before i even installed them (how does that happen), but he send a replacement and it was fine. Thank you Lindsay

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    Re: What makes rotors warp?

    i had a bran new set of rotors on my truck, truck went back into the bodyshop after their first 4 attempts in fixing it, and it came back wit warped rotors, they obviously used airguns on them, they also stripped the key for my splin drive lock lugs.
    the truck has been back about 8-10 times and it still is not put together properly...i show no love at all for UNIQUE COLLISION or any other ATLANTIC COLLISION related bodyshop in Ontario.

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    Re: What makes rotors warp?

    Rotors warp (aside from wear, over tightening of the lug nuts) because they are steel. With any metal, when it is warmed (applying the brakes) then cooled (take your foot off the petal) it expands and contracts. The girth of the rotor counteracts this natural reaction simply by thickness of the metal, but as rotors age, they get thinner and it is easier for the metal to misshape from the constant expanding and contracting.

    The only way to avoid this is to A) slam into things to come to a stop to avoid using the brakes or B) go Fred Flintstone and cut holes in the floorboards and use your feet to stop the car.


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    Re: What makes rotors warp?

    Overtightened lugs? Thats a new one to me. The heating and cooling, definitely. Driving hot brakes through water, absolutely. Cheap Chinese steal that was implemented while cutting corners, without a doubt.

    Go thick, go brand name, and go Cryo Treated.
    Slotting and Venting helps dissipate heat, but also weakens the structure; you get less 'brake fade' under race conditions, but it won't help you much on the street.

    Any old timer will tell you that to get the best life out of your discs is just not to drive like a jerk; keep the short and sudden stops to a minimum, take your foot off the gas way beforehand and let gravity do most of the work, and apply the brakes more lightly when the car has slowed itself. This guarantees longer life and considerably less warping.

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    Z71
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    Re: What makes rotors warp?

    28,000 on the oem rotors and brakes. Had them checked today, very good condition. No hint of warped rotors. I have never had to use the brakes hard, no panic stops ever

    Uneven torquing of the lug nuts can cause this in some instances. Most of the time its cause by the driver who is just hard on them. They ride them a lot heating them up, lots of hard stops but mostly its because the are not broken in properly with heating/cooling cycles when new. Take it easy to not over heat them when new and the rotor will get seasoned properly.

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    Re: What makes rotors warp?

    The best way to prolong your rotors is to pulse your brakes. Do not start braking early and drag the brakes. Brake then let off, brake then let off until you are stopped. This is especially important going down hill. Dragging the brakes down a hill heats them up very fast. This was explained to me by a Brembo technician. Also, make sure the brake calipers do not bind as this will heat up the rotors too.

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    Re: What makes rotors warp?

    Ok so we know HOW rotors warp, the next question is: What is the Probability of the rear rotors warping. I presume it's possible, but is it probable? I'm thinking of changing them out any way, though turning them would be a cheaper alternative.

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    Re: What makes rotors warp?

    Here is my theory on avoiding warpage.

    This was told to me be an instructor at a race driving school. He said never hold your foot on the brake after a hard stop.

    The rotors heat red hot in a hard stop and once you stop they begin to cool. The will cool OK BUT they will cool UNEVENLY because the PADS are pressed up against a PORTION of the rotor. The PADS insulate the portion of the rotor they are pressed against. The UNEVEN cooling causes warping.

    He told us this because they were going through a lot of rotors at the school (Bondurant) and 1 single hard stop and holding brakes on would warp rotors.

    That is why race car drivers usually run a cool down lap to cool the brakes (and other things) before coming in to the pits.

    When I have to do a hard stop on the street once stopped I try and get my foot off the brake pedal (press in clutch or use neutral) if at all possible. Ideally you would want to start rolling even if just a little.

    Rear rotors in panic stop will get plenty hot and the same thing applies.

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    Re: What makes rotors warp?

    Quote Originally Posted by jpo96sungt View Post
    The best way to prolong your rotors is to pulse your brakes. Do not start braking early and drag the brakes. Brake then let off, brake then let off until you are stopped. This is especially important going down hill. Dragging the brakes down a hill heats them up very fast. This was explained to me by a Brembo technician. Also, make sure the brake calipers do not bind as this will heat up the rotors too.
    I always pulse my brakes when coming to a stop. Also, when going downhill, use a low gear so you don't have to brake. It works quite well for those steep hills.

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    Re: What makes rotors warp?

    Quote Originally Posted by propninja View Post
    Ok so we know HOW rotors warp, the next question is: What is the Probability of the rear rotors warping. I presume it's possible, but is it probable? I'm thinking of changing them out any way, though turning them would be a cheaper alternative.
    I would just have them turned. They do not get near the abuse as the fronts but every time you turn them they go bad faster.

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    concorso is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: What makes rotors warp?

    Quote Originally Posted by BlueMalibu View Post
    Here is my theory on avoiding warpage.

    This was told to me be an instructor at a race driving school. He said never hold your foot on the brake after a hard stop.

    The rotors heat red hot in a hard stop and once you stop they begin to cool. The will cool OK BUT they will cool UNEVENLY because the PADS are pressed up against a PORTION of the rotor. The PADS insulate the portion of the rotor they are pressed against. The UNEVEN cooling causes warping.

    He told us this because they were going through a lot of rotors at the school (Bondurant) and 1 single hard stop and holding brakes on would warp rotors.

    That is why race car drivers usually run a cool down lap to cool the brakes (and other things) before coming in to the pits.

    When I have to do a hard stop on the street once stopped I try and get my foot off the brake pedal (press in clutch or use neutral) if at all possible. Ideally you would want to start rolling even if just a little.

    Rear rotors in panic stop will get plenty hot and the same thing applies.
    Great post, thanks for this! As a side note, never wash your car right after a spirited drive, as the rotors may not have cooled down fully and the cold water could cause warping. This is what Ive been told along time as well.

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