Few systems in your car are more important than your brakes. This component is essential in controlling the vehicle whether it is moving fast, going slow, or standing still. It is also important for ensuring the safety of the passengers and driver because if you are unable to properly navigate a turn or avoid a hazard, serious danger could ensue. A braking system that is well looked after, allows you to stop well in advance of a potential collision, but the rest of the time, it also leaves you with peace of mind that you can control the vehicle.
Most times, brakes fitted in a vehicle when it is manufactured, are enough to cover the needs brought on by general daily commute. Still, some vehicles wear through their brakes a lot faster than others. This is almost typical of newer crossover models, which employ sedan brakes for relatively heavy vehicles. Needless to say, those cost heavily in the long run by demanding repairs or replacements, and during such times, it is a good idea to consider drilled and slotted rotors.
How are Drilled and Slotted Rotors Different?
It is easier to understand drilled and slotted rotors if you take a look at “smooth” variety first. The latter are common in new cars, and each carries a full-face surface for the brake pads to grab on to. The resulting friction is tremendous, sufficing to slow or stop the car based on what the driver wants. The problem with this type of rotor, however, is that it generates enough heat to warp, damage, or wear down the components of the braking system. That said, smooth rotors are sufficiently durable to deliver good performance for thousands of miles, as long as conditions stay “normal”. Being a lot cheaper to manufacture, they are therefore also the rotor type which most manufacturers prefer producing.
Then you have slotted brake rotors, which perform significantly better when you press the brake pedal. If you do a lot of heavy braking, pad wear is one of the concerns you would need to be mindful of; out-gassing is another. On a simple rotor, these two things can cause dust and gasses to accumulate in the meeting point of rotor and pad, bringing down the friction, which the system is capable of achieving. The slotted rotor type carries evenly spaced machined slots on the friction surface, along which brake dust and gas can escape.
As these are vented, they move along the pre-etched paths across the rotor surface, causing heat to spread evenly and minimizing chances of warping. The slots also serve as sources of initial “bite” for the pads, driving up braking effectiveness while still ensuring that pedal feel stays smooth throughout the ride.
Cross-drilled rotors find use in top-of-the-line sports cars. Like slotted brakes, these allow dust and gas to be vented as they build up, but through holes drilled into the friction surface. These holes carry direct cooling from connected vanes, which means brake temperatures can be maintained at much lower levels. Initial brake bite can be boosted even in wet weather, because water is able to move off the braking surface much more quickly. Cross-drilled rotors lack the same durability as slotted rotors under true race conditions, but for the spirited driver, they are the best way to get both better wet-weather performance and brake cooling in one package, not to mention a cool look when someone checks out your wheels.
Drilled and slotted rotors combine the best of both worlds, and end up giving superior initial bite (in both dry and wet conditions), lower brake fade, longer life, greater cooling capacity, and awesome looks. If you can afford this type of rotor and it more or less suits your ride, then there is little sense in not picking this option. Whether you are a performance enthusiast, or just an average daily commuter, these rotors can give you the best value for your money, especially in terms of how long they last.
The average driver can appreciate the convenience of feeling their car’s brakes dig in right off, so that they know if the situation called for it, a sudden stop could be managed safely. However, most drivers also require extensive pedal travel, as well as to have their brakes last a decent while. For all that, you could try incorporating racecar technology such as the above into your streetcar. Eight times out of ten, you would not be disappointed, and in the other two, you would not find much to complain about except the higher cost.
In the long run though, drilled and slotted rotors bring down the need for frequent brake system repairs and replacements. As already mentioned, if you can afford them, you should definitely consider them.