Can Warped Rotors Cause Vibration When Not Braking? How To Fix Warped Rotors?

Warped rotors are easy to recognize from the shaking that happens when applying brakes. But can warped rotors cause vibration when not braking too? Read on to find out more!

The engine propels your car forward, and an effective braking system is the only way to stop it.

Disc brake systems are usually located at the front wheel of the vehicle, and the rotor, or disc, is one of the essential braking components that helps to stop the car.

Rotors can get damaged with time, resulting in squeaky brakes or vibrations in your car.

How bad does it get? Can warped rotors cause a vibration when not braking, either?

No, when you don’t apply brakes, warped rotors do not cause any vibration.

If the car vibrates continuously, then there can be other reasons, like unbalance tires or damaged wheel bearings.

Can Warped Rotors Cause Vibration When Not Braking

What Are Brake Rotors?

The rotor or disc is usually attached to the car’s front wheel. However, on rare occasions, it might also be located at the rear wheel of a vehicle.

The primary role of the disc is to convert kinetic energy into heat energy.

When the driver presses the brake pedal, the pressurized brake fluid from the master cylinder moves to the caliper.

The brake caliper assembly comprises pistons, rotors, pads, and dust shoes.

The brake fluid exerts pressure on the piston from every side and thus pushes the brake pads to compress against the rotor or disc.

A lot of friction will generate between the brake rotor and the brake pads, which helps to stop the vehicle.

What Are Warped Brake Rotors?

The rotors are usually comprised of stainless steel or aluminum.

Each time you apply brakes, the brake pads squeeze the rotors and generate friction which stops the car.

But this also causes a lot of heat, and continuous application of brakes can deteriorate the smooth surface of the rotor.

The rotor surface, which no longer remains flat, is known as the warped brake rotor.

What Are The Possible Signs Of A Warped Brake Rotor?

The possible signs of a worn rotor are as follows.

1. Strange Noise

A worn rotor will produce strange and irritating noise.

So, if you hear squeaky noise while applying brakes, your rotor is probably damaged.

But if you don’t hear the noise much louder, the dust and dirt may have accumulated in the braking system with time.

Again, poor-quality rotors will also produce strange and irritating noises on the application of brakes.

The rotors are usually flat and even throughout. But when it’s damaged, the uneven surfaces will create a loud noise.

Check the rotors thoroughly; if worn out, replace them with new ones.

2. Vibration On Application Of Brakes

When the rotors are worn out or warped, it will cause your car to vibrate, mainly during the application of brakes.

It is pretty dangerous to drive in this condition. You need to change the rotors as soon as possible.

3. Shaking Steering Wheel

If your steering wheel shakes while driving, it indicates a warped rotor.

Damage or loss of steering components can also result in shaking of the steering wheel.

4. The vehicle Will Pull To One Side

If your car pulls to one side, especially during the application of brakes, then it indicates a bad rotor.

5. Rotor Surface Does not Look Uniform

If the rotor surface looks nonuniform or you will observe color changes, i.e., from blue to black or alternate light and dark patterns, it indicates a warped rotor.

6. Brake Dust

You may observe brake dust inside the windshield, which indicates that your rotors are damaged.

7. Rust On Rotors

Rust can get accumulated in rotors with time unknowingly. If you observe such things, you must replace them with a new one.

Reasons For Warped Rotors

1. Driving Habits

The brake job is to stop your car. But if you consistently apply brakes hardly while driving at high speed, it can be the reason for warped rotors.

Additionally, if you always drive in heavy traffic or hilly areas, then it can damage the rotors within a short period.

2. Temperature Change

Whenever you apply brakes, a lot of friction is produced between the brake pads and rotors, which generates a lot of heat.

Now, if you drive in muddy water just after applying brakes, the rotors are exposed to sudden temperature changes, which can be the reason for its damage.

3. Not Changed Brake Components Since Long

If you have not changed brake components like brake pads for a long time, it will cause metal-to-metal contact, which can result in grooves in the rotor.

4. Rear Brakes Not Working

If your rear brakes are not working effectively, the front brakes will work more to stop the car.

This can also be the reason for warped rotors.

5. Overtightening Lug Nuts

Some car owners overtighten the lug nuts while installing a new wheel on their car.

It might put too much stress on the rotor and consequently damages it.

Can I Fix Warped Rotors?

Yes, you can fix warped rotors.

Fixing warped rotors is usually known as resurfacing, which involves scraping the metal to have a smooth surface as before.

But most people avoid fixing warped rotors and mainly consider replacing the warped rotors with a new rotor.

The reasons are as follows.

  • Fixing a warped rotor will cost you the same as a new rotor. So, most car owners think that new rotors are much better than fixing the warped rotor and using it again. Using a new pair of rotors ensures your safety while driving on the road.
  • Most manufacturers recommend that a brake disc or rotor maintain a specific thickness. It restricts a mechanic from scraping the metal once again.

How Much Will It Cost To Replace rotors?

The cost of replacing the brake rotor depends on the car model and the years it is used for driving.

Well, you have to spend approximately $400 to $500.

The labor charges will be between $150 to $200.

What Are The Other Possible Reasons For Car Vibration Other Than Warped Rotors?

1. Unbalanced Tires

Tires play a vital role while driving on the road.

But if the tires become unbalanced, they will run evenly on the road. Some of the possible signs of unbalanced tires are as follows.

  • If the vehicle pulls to one side while using your steering wheel, it indicates an unbalanced tire.
  • Your vehicle will shake consistently.
  • Uneven tire tread.

If you experience the above symptoms, check the tires and repair them immediately. If the tires’ wear and tear are severe, replace them with new tires.

2. Misalignment Of Wheels

Misalignment of wheels can cause your vehicle to shake consistently. Sometimes the bushings get damaged with time, resulting in an imbalance of the wheels.

3. Damaged Wheel Bearing

The main work of the wheel bearing is to rotate the wheel of your vehicle. Damaged wheel bearings can result in shaking the car.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you feel a warped rotor while driving?

A warped rotor can have an impact on performance while driving. However, it is not always something that you will be able to feel.
Technical symptoms of a warped rotor include a pulsating brake pedal, brake vibration, and gentle shimmying when you press the brakes hard.
Also, if this goes on for too long, it can cause gas mileage to dip and the engine misfires.
Therefore it’s important to get it checked out immediately if you suspect something isn’t quite right with the brakes or steering of your car.

What causes brake vibration when not braking?

One of the most common causes of brake vibration when not braking is a warped rotor.
When the rotor warps, it can cause an uneven surface that results in a pulsation feeling when you press the brake pedal.
Additionally, worn-out suspension parts like shocks, springs, and struts can also create this kind of vibration sensation when not braking.
A bad wheel bearing or a loose wheel lug nut can also be responsible for such vibrations.
As soon as any kind of brake vibration emerges while not braking, it is important to take the car to a mechanic to identify and solve the underlying issue right away.

Can warped rotors cause noise when not braking?

Warped rotors can cause noise even when not braking due to high-spot radial runout.
High spot radial runout causes uneven contact patch and noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH).
Warped rotors can also affect pad squeal, pedal pulsation, and rotor degradation – making them noisy even when they’re not being used for braking.
To minimize warpage on your rotors, it’s important to use the right type of brakes for your car and have regular maintenance to ensure there is no damage or rattling noises.

What happens if you drive with warped rotors for too long?

If you drive with warped rotors for too long, it can lead to major brake system damage.
When driving with warped rotors, not only will your car vibrate and cause instability, but also the brakes might become ineffective.
When the brake pads lose contact with the rotor, they won’t be able to stop properly, causing your braking distance to increase significantly, which may lead to fatal accidents.
Additionally, severe cases of warped rotors may lead to the burning of calipers or the premature wear of the brake pads due to excessive heat buildup.
Overall, warping in a car’s rotors can have serious consequences, so it is important that you pay attention to any signs of Brake Disc Warping and replace them if necessary.

Wrap Up

Driving with a damaged or warped rotor can affect other braking components like calipers and brake pads.

Again it increases the stopping distance of your vehicle, which may result in a collision with other cars. It is pretty dangerous to drive in such conditions.

Your car will also experience shaking while applying brakes because of the warped rotor.

So thoroughly check the brake rotors if you experience symptoms like shaking, and if it has warped, replace it with a new one.

Thank you for reading!

Photo of author

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.

Leave a Comment