Are Front And Rear Rotors The Same?

Most recent cars in the automotive industry come with front and rear rotors. This means that on some vehicles, both front and rear wheels have disc brakes. If you have replaced your front and rear brake pads, you’ll notice that the front pads wear faster than the rear pads.

While it is okay for the front brakes to wear faster than the rear, you may ask, are front and rear rotors the same? Are front and rear rotors interchangeable?

Both front and rear rotors play an essential role in how the car stops. In fact, they perform the same function in slowing or stopping the vehicle. However, they’re different in many dimensions. We’ll explain these in detail as we progress to the following sections. But first, what are car rotors?

best brake rotors

What Are Car Rotors?

Car rotors are vital parts of a vehicle braking system. They are metal disc that sits behind the wheels. Here’s how they operate; when you depress the brake pedal, it pushes hydraulics through the brake lines, and then the hydraulic pressure compresses the brake pads against the rotor. This action slows the vehicle or leads it to a complete stop.

These components wear out over time because of the constant friction on them. So, it is important to inspect them at every brake pad change to know when to replace rotors and prevent them from damaging other braking components.

Bad brake rotors can cause annoying grinding noise when braking and delay braking response. If you hear grinding or squealing noise from the brakes, inspect the brake rotor and pads and replace them with the best brake rotors.

I recommend replacing the pads with the best brake pads for your car model. Installing new car rotors with old brake pads may cause accelerated wear. You don’t want this to happen.

How Does Car Rotors Works?

Car rotors – properly put, brake rotor starts working once you depress the brake pedal. Once you step on the brake pedal, the hydraulic force on the brake lines causes the pads to push against the rotor.

Kindly note that there’s one rotor on each wheel. So, once you apply the brakes, all the rotors work in unison to slow or completely stop the car.

The moment the driver steps on the brake pedal and the pads push against the rotors, friction automatically slows the wheel rotation. As the friction prolongs, it creates intense heat.

Therefore, auto manufacturers try to curb the intense heat by manufacturing the rotors with steel materials.

They also create gaps or ribs in the rotors to allow heat escape during the braking or driving process. However, auto manufacturers and aftermarket producers produce rotors with different designs and numbers of ribs.

Once you take your foot off the brake pedal, the pads release the rotors, allowing the wheels to spin freely and according to the engine speed. Now that we’ve seen what rotors are and how they work, you may wonder, are rotors the same for front and back? Is there a difference between rear and front rotors? Let’s find out.

how long do brake rotors last

Are Front And Rear Rotors The Same?

The front and rear brake rotors are not the same. The front rotors are bigger than the rear rotors. So, technically, they do not perform the same job. The front rotors handle most of the braking power, and that’s why the front pads wear faster than the rear pads.

In contrast, the rear rotor helps in balancing the braking power and providing stability to all the wheels. Because of their level of braking task, they do not wear in unison and do not require replacement at the same interval.

Here’s a quick similarity and difference between the two rotors. Both front and rear rotors have the same shape, look, and a number of bolt holes. The front plays a single by getting grabbed by the pads to slow the vehicle. The rear rotors are slightly smaller and perform less than 41% of the braking task.

The rear rotors have two braking surfaces. They have an inner surface for the brake shoes to sit on and an outer surface for the brake pads to grab them.


Q: Are front and back rotors interchangeable?

Front and back rotors are not universal. They differ in size, which makes them difficult to interchange. Aside from the sizes, you can’t interchange front and rear rotors because of their key difference – braking surface.

The rear rotor has two braking surfaces – the inner and outer braking surface. The inner surfaces hold the brake shoes for the emergency brake, and the outer surface is where the brake pads grab the disc. The front rotor has one braking surface where the caliper and pads sit. This makes it impossible to interchange the front and rear rotors.

Q: Why are front and rear rotors different?

Auto manufacturers design the front rotor to handle up to 60% of the whole braking power. For this reason, it works harder and handles more heat. Most rear rotors have a drum portion that contains the shoe brake.

This is the key feature that makes both rotors different and why they are not interchangeable.

Q: Can you put vented rotors on the rear?

Vented rotors are a better option than traditional rotors. They dissipate heat easily and last longer than traditional solids rotor. Vented rotors are commonly installed on front wheels because of ‘brake bias’ on vehicles.

However, manufacturers install vented rotors on the rear wheels on vehicles with performance braking systems. 

Q: Are brake pads and rotors universal?

No, they are not universal. Brake pads and rotors come in different designs and shapes. In addition, the rotor and brake pad materials are different because every car has a unique performance level and requires a certain friction material for better performance.

In any case, brake pads and rotors can be interchangeable between certain models. The wheel size, hub bore/pattern, and the sizing of the brake pads and rotors are some of the parameters to look into when considering a brake pad or rotor replacement.

Q: Can I use any rotor with disc brakes?

You can use any rotor with your disc brake as long as they have the same hub bore, wheel size, and rotor sizing. So, when considering using an aftermarket rotor, ensure the rotor has the same size, wheel size, and hub bores. Lastly, you need to fix it the same way you do the previous one.

Q: How do I know my rotor size?

Many people seem to get confused about how to know their rotor size. Different vehicles come in different models. And with different models come different rotor sizes. You can’t replace your rotor with a smaller or larger size because they need to be OEM-specific size.

Therefore, you need to know the exact size of your rotor. Here is how to know your rotor sizes

Measure the rotor diameter. Measure the longest possible size of the rotor from the outside edge. After that, check the compatibility. Check the product description section for the car compatibility info. Also, check the gallery section for parts specs and technical diagrams.

If you’re still unsure of your rotor size, call your dealership and give them your vehicle VIN and they’ll be able to help you with the rotor size.

Final Words

Brake rotors play an essential role in the overall braking functionalities. Therefore, if they go bad, ensure to replace them before they delay the braking response or cause the brakes to fail. Of course, you don’t want your brakes to fail because it could lead to a collision.

When considering a replacement, you may wonder, are front and rear rotors the same? Of course, they help in slowing and completely stopping the car. But technically, they are not the same. However, they share trivial similarities and differences.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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