Can Drilled and Slotted Rotors Be Turned: A Straightforward Answer

Many drivers often wonder whether their drilled and slotted rotors can be turned, as it is often required due to wear and tear.

The easy answer is yes. Drilled and slotted rotors can be turned, cut, or machined to extend their lifespan.

However, it does require precise work and expert knowledge to correctly turn these types of rotors.

Drilled and slotted rotors are designed to improve the braking system of a vehicle.

Turning or resurfacing these rotors may be a cost-effective solution for many drivers, as it is typically more affordable compared to replacing them.

However, understanding the risks and benefits of turning drilled and slotted rotors is essential to ensure your vehicle’s safety on the road.

Can Drilled and Slotted Rotors Be Turned

Key Takeaways

  • Drilled and slotted rotors can be turned to extend their lifespan, with appropriate skill and precision
  • Turning these rotors provides a cost-effective solution for many drivers
  • Understanding the benefits and risks is crucial for maintaining vehicle safety and performance.

Understanding Drilled and Slotted Rotors

You might wonder what drilled and slotted rotors are. Well, they are types of brake rotors that have undergone modifications to improve heat dissipation and reduce brake fade. Let’s discuss these two modifications.

A drilled rotor has holes drilled into its surface.

These holes help release heat and gas build-up caused by friction between the brake pads and rotors.

Drilled rotors are considered better for driving in wet conditions since they allow better water drainage and are less likely to rust.

A slotted rotor has grooves or slots machined across its surface.

The slots provide a channel for heat, gas, and water to escape, maintaining optimal contact between the brake pad and rotor.

Furthermore, they are more durable and less likely to crack.

Drilled and slotted rotors serve the primary purpose of managing heat generated during braking. Here’s why heat management is crucial:

  • It maintains consistent braking performance
  • It reduces brake fade and wear
  • It prolongs the brake system’s lifespan

Now, let’s compare drilled and slotted rotors:

FeatureDrilled RotorSlotted Rotor
Heat DisposalGoodBetter
Wet ConditionBetterGood
Noise LevelLowerSlightly Higher

Keep in mind that heat and friction will affect all brake rotors. Hence, proper maintenance, such as turning or resurfacing, is essential to prolonging their lifespan.

Although it requires precision and expertise, it is possible to turn drilled and slotted rotors for optimal performance.

Often, drilled and slotted rotors are painted black to make them last even longer.

Structural Differences and Heat Dissipation

Your braking system relies on rotors, and drilled and slotted rotors are designed for better brake performance.

They have holes and slots, which offer various benefits.

Here’s what you should know about their structure and heat dissipation.

Drilled and slotted rotors have specific patterns, making them distinct from regular rotors. These patterns include:

  • Holes (cross-drilled) for ventilation
  • Slots for cleaning and pad maintenance

These features help dissipate heat more efficiently. When you apply the brakes, friction generates heat.

Too much heat can lead to brake fade and decreased braking performance.

Drilled holes allow for better air circulation, while slots help remove debris, water, and gases from the braking surface.

The improved cooling capabilities of drilled and slotted rotors result in a reduced chance of brake pad glazing.

Glazing occurs when excessive heat causes the pad material to harden and lose its effectiveness.

Remember, heat dissipation is crucial for maintaining optimal brake performance.

Drilled and slotted rotors can offer higher resistance to heat and improved brake performance, especially under heavy braking conditions.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Drilled and Slotted Rotors

When considering brake upgrades, drilled and slotted rotors might be an option. Let’s discuss the advantages and disadvantages they offer.


  • Enhanced braking performance: In specific conditions, these rotors provide better braking due to improved heat dissipation and prevention of brake pad glazing.
  • Better cooling: The drilled holes allow for better cooling during heavy braking, reducing the risk of overheating.
  • Cleaner pads: The slots help sweep away brake dust and gas, leading to more efficient braking.


  • Compromised rotors: The drilled holes may weaken the rotors causing them to crack under extreme stress.
  • Limited lifespan: These rotors tend to wear faster compared to standard ones, due to their design.

When choosing between standard rotors and drilled and slotted ones, consider the specific conditions in which you’ll be driving.

If you participate in high-performance activities, like racing, the benefits of drilled and slotted rotors may outweigh their drawbacks. Otherwise, standard rotors might serve you better for daily driving.

Are Rotor Screws Necessary

Can Drilled and Slotted Rotors Be Turned?

As answered earlier, yes, they can.

When you find that your drilled and slotted rotors need turning, it’s best to take your car to a professional mechanic.

They have the expertise and equipment, such as a brake lathe, to ensure that the procedure is done accurately.

Turning your rotors involves a few essential steps.

First, the mechanic will inspect your rotors to determine if they have enough thickness for turning.

Each rotor has a minimum thickness, which is crucial to maintain for optimal performance and safety.

If your rotors are too thin, they will need to be replaced instead.

Next, the brake lathe comes into play. The mechanic will mount your rotor onto the lathe, ensuring proper alignment and direction of slots.

This machine will carefully remove a layer from the rotor surface, making it smooth and even.

Precision is key in this step, as an uneven surface could cause brake problems later on.

Additionally, some mechanics may choose to use sanding during the rotor resurfacing process.

This can help create optimal friction between the rotor and brake pad, further enhancing the performance of your braking system.

Keep in mind that turning your drilled and slotted rotors requires more skill and attention compared to turning regular rotors.

Therefore, it’s essential to entrust this job to an experienced mechanic, who can achieve the desired result while ensuring the longevity and effectiveness of your braking components.

Benefits and Risks of Turning Drilled and Slotted Rotors

Turning drilled and slotted rotors can improve your brake system’s performance.

By resurfacing, you ensure proper contact with the brake pads, leading to more efficient braking. However, there are risks involved that need consideration.

One major benefit of turning drilled and slotted rotors is prolonging their lifespan.

Resurfacing can postpone the need for replacement, saving on costs. Additionally, turned rotors can help reduce noise levels in your brake system.

On the other hand, turning these rotors increases the risk of warping.

Since the material is removed during the process, the rotors become thinner and more prone to warp. Warped rotors lead to uneven braking and vibrations.

Also, turning drilled and slotted rotors might not maintain their initial quality.

The removed material can affect their heat dissipation capabilities, impacting safety and performance.

Turning Drilled and Slotted RotorsProlonged rotor lifespan, Reduced noise, Improved braking efficiencyIncreased risk of warping, Potential for reduced quality and heat dissipation

In conclusion, while there are some benefits to turning drilled and slotted rotors, it’s important to consider the potential risks. Weighing both aspects can help you make a better decision for your car’s brake system.

Assessing the Need for Turning or Replacement

As a car owner, your safety and brake performance are crucial aspects of vehicle maintenance.

When it comes to drilled and slotted rotors, understanding when and how to perform maintenance is key.

Let’s explore the indicators that tell you if your drilled and slotted rotors need turning or replacing.

One sign that your rotors may need attention is brake fade.

This typically occurs during heavy braking situations, such as going downhill or sudden stops.

When your brake disc heats up excessively, the brake pads lose their grip, leading to decreased brake performance. If you notice brake fade, it’s time to inspect your rotors.

To check the rotors, begin by:

  • Loosening the lug nuts on your wheels with a wrench
  • Jacking up your car and removing the wheels
  • Inspecting your rotors for damage and measuring them with a micrometer to see if they are within the manufacturer’s specification

Consider the thickness and surface condition of your rotors. If they show significant wear, grooving, or unevenness, it’s likely time for a professional lathe to turn them.

However, if the damage is too severe, a full replacement could be necessary.

Remember that proper tools and expertise are essential for the maintenance of drilled and slotted rotors.

Using inadequate tools or techniques can cause further damage, so trust the job to a qualified mechanic or machinist when necessary.

By regularly inspecting and maintaining your drilled and slotted rotors, you ensure the lasting performance of your braking system and overall safety on the road.

DIY Tips for Turning Drilled and Slotted Rotors

Before starting, gather the essential tools and items:

  • Brake lathe
  • High-quality brake pads
  • Properly sized socket wrench for caliper bolts
  • Jack and jack stands
  • Wheel chocks or blocks
  • Safety glasses

First, park your vehicle on a level surface and put on your safety glasses.

Place wheel chocks or blocks behind the wheels to prevent the car from rolling. Using a jack, lift your vehicle and secure it with jack stands.

Next, remove the wheels to expose the brake calipers. Using the socket wrench, carefully remove the caliper bolts and slide the caliper off the rotor.

Be mindful of the brake line, as it is still connected to the caliper. Ensure calipers are suspended so that they won’t hang by the brake line.

Now, mark the original orientation of the rotor. This will help in re-installation.

Carefully remove the rotor from the vehicle and prepare for turning.

Set your brake lathe to the slowest setting to avoid chatter during the turning process. This is essential for achieving a smooth surface finish on your rotors.

When turning the drilled and slotted rotors, always double-check that slots are facing the correct direction. This is crucial for optimal functioning after re-installation.

Once the turning process is complete, reinstall the rotor, aligning it with the original orientation mark.

Slide the caliper back over the rotor and tighten the caliper bolts.

Complete the process by installing high-quality brake pads, which can significantly improve the longevity of freshly turned rotors.

Lastly, reinstall the wheels, lower the vehicle, and remove the jack stands. Your drilled and slotted rotors are now successfully turned and ready for use.

Signs of Needing Service

Your vehicle’s drilled and slotted rotors can last a long time, but they aren’t immune to wear and tear.

Being able to recognize the warning signs of rotor issues is important for your safety on the road.

In this short section, we will briefly review a few indicators that may suggest your rotors need servicing or turning.

One sign to watch for is vibration in the brake pedal when you apply pressure.

This can result from uneven wear on the rotor surfaces, which can be felt through the pedal.

Your driving habits, such as frequent hard braking, can accelerate this wear and exacerbate the issue.

Additionally, inspect your rotors for visible cracks. Over time, repeated stress and heat from braking can cause cracks to form in the rotor’s surface.

This may compromise their structural integrity and warrant a professional evaluation.

In summary, pay close attention to how your brake pedal responds when driving and regularly inspect your drilled and slotted rotors for physical signs of wear.

By doing so, you can ensure your vehicle’s braking system remains in optimal condition and continues to keep you safe on the road.

Relevance of Vehicle Type and Driving Conditions

In relation to drilled and slotted rotors, the vehicle type and driving conditions play a significant role in determining whether turning them would be appropriate.

For heavy-duty vehicles and those frequently driven under wet conditions or wet climates, turning drilled and slotted rotors might contribute to improved performance.

Heavy-duty vehicles often necessitate greater braking power, which can cause increased rotor heat.

Drilled and slotted rotors can provide enhanced heat dissipation, preventing issues such as brake fade.

In wet conditions, the presence of water and debris can affect braking efficiency.

The drilled holes in these rotors help maintain clean and clear pad and rotor surfaces, reducing pad wear.

That said, it’s essential to be aware of the potential trade-offs when turning drilled and slotted rotors.

For example, racing applications often encounter extreme heat, which may lead to decreased operational life for these rotors.

Here’s a comparison table highlighting the aspects to consider:

Operational LifeProlonged in normal useMay decrease in racing
Heavy-duty VehiclesEnhanced heat dissipation 
Improved PerformanceBetter braking in wet conditions 
Pad WearReduced wear 
Wet Conditions/ClimateImproved braking efficiency 
RacingBetter heat dissipationShortened operational life

In conclusion, turning drilled and slotted rotors can be beneficial depending on your vehicle type and driving conditions.

Heavy-duty vehicles and those used under wet conditions or wet climates are likely to experience the most significant improvements in performance when using drilled and slotted rotors.

However, for racing purposes, the shortened operational life may be a drawback to consider.


In summary, turning drilled and slotted rotors is possible, but requires precision and expertise.

It is essential to prioritize safety when working with such rotors, as incorrect turning can compromise their performance.

To ensure you maintain high quality, always consult professionals for turning and use proper equipment, like a lathe.

When considering whether turning your drilled and slotted rotors is worth it, evaluate the potential improvements in performance and the maintenance requirements.

These upgraded rotors offer better cooling and braking performance than stock rotors, and can also improve your car’s safety.

However, they require regular upkeep and may wear down faster than conventional rotors.

In the end, weigh the pros and cons of turning drilled and slotted rotors and make an informed decision based on your needs and preferences.

Always remember to prioritize safety, quality, and performance when making this choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I resurface drilled and slotted rotors at home?

While it’s possible to resurface drilled and slotted rotors yourself, it’s best to leave this task to professionals. It requires great precision and expertise to machine these rotors correctly.

How long do resurfaced rotors typically last?

The lifespan of resurfaced rotors depends on several factors, like driving habits and quality of brake pads used. In general, resurfaced rotors may not last as long as new ones, but they can still provide a good performance for an affordable price.

What are the potential drawbacks of drilled and slotted rotors?

Some drawbacks of drilled and slotted rotors include:

  • An increased chance of cracking under extreme stress
  • Possible reduced durability compared to solid rotors
  • Higher costs compared to regular rotors

Despite these drawbacks, drilled and slotted rotors still offer improved cooling and braking performance.

How do drilled rotors compare to dimpled rotors?

Drilled rotors have through-holes, while dimpled rotors have shallow indentations. Here’s a comparison:

FeatureDrilled RotorsDimpled Rotors
AppearanceMore aggressiveSubtle
Risk of crackingHigherLower

Generally, drilled rotors provide better heat dissipation than dimpled ones, but they may also have a higher risk of cracking.

Do drilled and slotted rotors make any unusual noise?

Drilled and slotted rotors might produce some noise, but it’s generally minimal and unnoticeable by the driver. Using high-quality brake pads and proper installation can help minimize rotor noise.

What is the break-in process for Detroit Axle drilled and slotted rotors?

To break in your new Detroit Axle drilled and slotted rotors, follow these steps:

  1. Drive your car at a gentle pace for the first 30-50 miles to let the brake pads and rotors become accustomed to one another.
  2. After this initial period, perform 5-10 moderate to aggressive brake applications from 40 mph down to 10 mph.
  3. Allow the brakes to cool for a couple of minutes, then repeat the process 2-3 times to ensure proper break-in.

Following this break-in procedure can help extend the life of your Detroit Axle drilled and slotted rotors.

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Sean Mendez

Hi, I am Sean, a self-confessed petrolhead. I live in Boise, Idaho with a busy family of four and our energetic Labrador retriever. Thank you for visiting my website. You can find my email on the contact page.

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