New rotors decision: standard vs. drilled and grooved; better and worse brands

Time for new pads and rotors after 10 years. There are so many available nowadays, with little evidence of quality, except reviews on Amazon. I’ve seen glowing reports of a drilled and grooved set, with pads, a little over $100. And pretty positive review of standard rotors, with pads, around $75. And some sets for half that, and twice that.

Is it asking for trouble to put on drilled and grooved rotors, when I have had no complaints with the standard type? I live in Duluth, MN. Will rust be more a problem with grooved rotors? What about resistance to warping?

Don’t waste your money on drilled/slotted rotors nor on high performance brake pads.

Unless you’re racing the vehicle there’s no benefit.

Install brake parts that meets/exceeds the OEM specs.

By the way? Is the ice breaking up on the lake?



Thanks for your MN-appropriate advice!

Yes, ice all broken up on Lake Superior around here. Depending on the wind it’s all jammed up against the lake walk, or headed out into the dark blue open water, toward Wisconsin.

You may not like my answer, but here goes . . .

Stick with standard pads and rotors, from Honda. To be even more specific, get them from your local Honda dealer. That way, if there is a problem, it won’t be an ordeal, and/or cost you s/h

I’ve seen a LOT of problems . . . you name it . . . with aftermarket brake components. And my sample size is huge, as you know

If you’ve had no complaints with your factory brakes, why mess with success?

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”


Slotted rotors are for racers, drilled rotors are for posers. Neither will do you any good for just normal driving.

Drilled rotors are not used in racing anymore but some cars have them - for style - and nothing else because they crack thru the holes if they get hot repeatedly.

Slotted rotors are used in racing to vent gasses and clean the pads but a shop won’t turn them as they will destroy the cutting tools. Racers throw them away.


I remember when drilled rotors started being standard equipment on some vehicles

Everything was fine, until the owner got an estimate to replace them . . . :scream:


Drilled and slotted or just slotted will wear the pads out quicker, a lot quicker. They also make the brakes a little touchy. When you move up to high performance brakes, you also need high performance tires or else the brakes will tend to lock up easily. As long as OEM brakes are strong enough to either lock the tires you have on the car or activate the anti-lock, that is all you need. Any more is a waste of money.

If you have upgraded the suspension and put on high performance tires and wheels, then the better performing brakes could be justified.

Wait’ll they see how much the carbon brakes on their luxo-speedster are. :wink:


If they can’t afford the brakes, they can’t afford the “luxo-speedster”.

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Used luxo-speedsters are very “affordable” if you only count initial price. That’s actually a fairly common problem. Someone sees a used luxury car for the price of a Chevy Spark, snaps it up, and then gets a nasty surprise the first time something needs work.

You can get AMG Mercedes no more than a decade old for less than 10 grand. 20 if you want a low miles one, and a lot of people think luxury cars are only expensive to buy - they don’t realize that they’re going to pay a lot more for service and parts too.

And besides, even if they buy new because they have a lot of money, they often then complain about what it costs to keep it on the road. How many threads have we seen in here from someone who just dropped 60 grand on a car and now wants us to tell him it’s OK to save 30 cents/gallon and not use premium?


I disagree with this point. It isn’t about whether the brakes can create enough force to lock the tires, it is about being able to lock the tires again and again and again. Driving down Pikes Peak, from corner to corner, heats the brakes with little cool-down between brake applies. If the heat builds up to the point of brake fade before the bottom of the hill, you have a problem. The same as diving in stop-and-go-traffic in any major city, The same as driving around a race circuit and applying max brake at every corner.

That’s why brakes have gotten bigger and bigger and bigger. More heat capacity and more surface area for cooling. The Mustang, at one point had 3 different diameter front brake rotors available - 12 inch for the V6, 13 inch for the V8 and 14 inch for the Shelby.


100% agree. Brakes don’t just fade on race tracks. Mountain driving can kill them fairly easily if the driver isn’t careful.

Mountain driving is one reason I like a manual transmission. Uphill and downhill!


The GM brake division I worked for used to test new brake materials in LA city traffic. The division had a hard time getting brakes to last the duration of the 12 month warranty once asbestos was eliminated in LA county stop-and-go traffic. The temperatures they saw forced them to improve the binders used to glue the friction materials together. The binder breaking down was the mechanism for wear and fade of the lining.

I stand 100% behind my statement. If it is too easy to lock the wheels, brake fade is NOT your problem. I had this experience with my Saturn. The OEM brakes did not have any trouble stopping the car, any time, including driving in the Rockies. The tires were upgraded a little from OEM, same size but just better quality, better grip, quieter, and longer lasting.

At 140k miles, I did its first brake job using slotted rotors and high performance pads. After that, stopping the car even in good weather on dry pavement became very difficult. The wheels would lock up under very little pressure. 35k miles later, the pads were down to the metal and I replaced them with OEM pads and rotors.

As for your example with the Mustang, each of those models has a major upgrade in wheels, tires and other suspension parts along with those larger brakes. It’s all kept in balance and balance is the key. Upgrading just one component is a waste of money, even if it is the brakes.

I agree with that part of your statement. But fade WILL become your problem after more brake applies with limited cooling periods. That was the point of my comment.

The high performance pads had a higher coefficient of friction than the factory pads. Slotted or drilled rotors have very little effect on the torque. You are right, balance plays a part but it is more about control-ability than absolute brake torque. The heat created in each stop is all about speed and car weight,

And why do you think that is? Each rotor can lock the wheel with the best tire that can be installed and each model is available with wide high performance tires. Fitting the larger rotors is to address the heat issues inherent with stopping more and more faster, somewhat heavier, cars.

I tracked my 2007 Mustang with its stock 13 inch brake rotors and all-season tires in the stock size and high temp, high coefficient of friction brake pads. By the end of 20 minutes lapping a track, the front brakes were fading. I swapped for the larger front Shelby rotors and 4 piston calipers along with 1 inch larger diameter, 2 inch wider wheels and far grippier tires. The car was faster because of the tires but the big brakes fixed the fade completely.

A useful brake primer. Note the solution to fade. And of course the last comment about color is a joke.

That’s why Rangers check brake temps at Glen Cove for descending visitors.

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I grew up in LA. My first job as a teenager in the mid-80’s was at the corner service station (back when they all had garages). The owner was adamant that every car that came in with 20,000 miles had the front brakes checked. I’ll bet that half the cars we saw had worn out brakes by 25,000 miles.

I left LA and spent 25+ years in the Seattle area, hilly with lots of stop and go. Brake material has really improved, because now people are getting 40-50,000 miles out of front brakes. (OK, 30,000 for some who drive aggressively).

I hear people talk about 100,000 miles on a set of brakes and wonder if they’re crazy!

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I had 70 on my fronts on the TL when I replaced them. The pads on the MR2 don’t tend to last as long because it gets taken to track day events from time to time, although running Porterfields does help with that.

Amazing that the drivers can’t SMELL the acrid odor from overheated brakes!

I followed a guy down a volcano on the island of Maui and smelled his overheating brake pads most of the way.down. I kept waiting for him to shot off the side of the mountain when the brakes finally failed. Thank goodness that didn’t happen!