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Old 12-31-2006, 07:06 PM   #1
Petersubaru
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Default What are the differences in brake rotor quality

I am curious as to what is the difference between for example the Raybestos line of brake rotors, other then price..when looking at Rockauto, they sell the Raybestos "Red Service and Raymold brands which are the cheapest and then the "Professional Grade" at more then twice the cost
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Old 01-01-2007, 12:26 PM   #2
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An interesting question that nobody seems to want to talk about...wonder why?

Probably because they don't want to believe that the very vast majority of rotors on the market are Chinese imports. By the container load. American made? Forget about it.

What makes one better than the other? Again; probably little or nothing. The imports are all 'same size' applications to be OEM replacements, they're non directional for the most part (I know of only a few OEM parts that are) and the biggest difference is likely the width of the air gap. Wider flowing more air, and narrower offering more cheek mass. Some of the higher end parts under go a final surface grinding that assures both the finish grade and parallelism that may no be found in the lesser cost part.

The biggest difference is marketing. Take said Chinese rotor and put some very cool slots or holes in it, plate it up pretty and put it into a zoomy box and push it as an "upgrade". Testing? I'm sure some do- remove old mega mile rotors with hot spots and repalce with new along with a quality brake pad and what do you get? Of course they're better, better than what was removed but not better than what you had when new.


The aftermarket rotor business and profit is just insane. I sold an enhancement package many years ago for the SHO. (slotted rotors, hoses and pfc pads) and the reviews were crazy! Wow, what a difference! The rotors were from a local auto parts chain store as were the pads. Only the hoses were dedicated shop parts. What made it so great? A good pad and some firmed up hoses.

Now ten years later CNC equipment makes it cheap enough for ebay and other rotor suppliers to purchase these Chinese blanks and machine them up to their spec and sell them as performance parts. The blanks will run a small shop like mine about $16-20ea, add some machine time to it, plate it, box it and sell it. Total manufactured cost; under $100 for a set of four.

Are there truly some good replacements on the market? Hard to say. I've seen (purchased) the same rotor in a different marked box. *they are all the same Asian style white cardboard box with a different sticker on them. I'd put my money on Brembo or TRW parts if I could determine where they were made. Are they really "better"? Again maybe, maybe not. Short of a vane count, rotor mass analysis, or metalugy test I'm not sure of any way you'd ever know.



**Before someone yells foul, I'm not down on Chinese parts are Asian imports! The Chinese boasted some years back that they intended to take over the automotive replacement parts business in due time. And by golly they are doing just that. The WalMart of auto parts. You may or may not see this as good...

Last edited by TCE; 01-01-2007 at 12:37 PM.
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Old 01-01-2007, 06:20 PM   #3
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Thankyou for posting your insights and feelings about the rotor question...and yes, the parts industry do like to keep us in the "dark"...I have asked this question before on other sites with no answer in return,...maybe it is my luck and since I can do brake work with no problem..I have never had over the many years of driving any bad luck with the cheapest rotors available at that time, coupled with some good name brand pads...but I have had on 4 occassions with OE products were the rotors gets warped...I do try to stick with name brand white box rotors (Raybestos or Beckley) hopeing that they take a final measurement and inspection before sending them out to the customer, but who knows for sure??..after all, it is for a stock application...also this reminds me of a question concerning the O2 sensor I needed 3 weeks ago....prices any where between $400--$55...one has the OE logo and the other has the Bosch logo..or contact lenses..under a dollar to produce and many more dollars to the customer
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Old 01-01-2007, 07:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petersubaru View Post
but I have had on 4 occassions with OE products were the rotors gets warped...
Are you sure they were warped?

http://www.stoptech.com/tech_info/wp...rakedisk.shtml
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Old 01-01-2007, 07:54 PM   #5
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Yes I know it is not the correct terminology to use, but my way of explaining the brake pedal was pulsating..some of the rotors were so bad they could not be turned..anyway, when changing out the rotors,..no more problem...
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Old 01-01-2007, 11:09 PM   #6
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TCE, what do you know about the DBA 4000 rotors?
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Old 01-01-2007, 11:41 PM   #7
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I went 85k on my original rotors before they started to pulsate badly. I replaced them with Autopart rotors, and they are pulsating badly at 40k. I'm going back to Subaru rotors.
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Old 01-02-2007, 12:52 AM   #8
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My replacement subaru front rotors look higher quality than the ones that came with the car. My independent Subaru mechanic recommended the Subaru rotors over the slightly cheaper Brembos. I went with the subarus and installed them myself along with new rear rotors. I have stock pads for winter, and red ebc for summer. I drive hard enough to avoid the so called "warping" syndrome. That includes panic stops for deer or feasting vultures. This approximates the cleaning method for the material transfer "warping" simulation. Fortunately the F1GSD3 tires are up to that level of traction.

My son and my son in law have Legacy GT's and both complain about the pulsating/warping effect. I mentioned the cleaning method, but since they commute, and don't run the hills like I do (more real animals than drivers there), they don't get a chance to work the brakes hard.
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Old 01-02-2007, 01:08 AM   #9
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I can answer the question about raybestos rotors. The "Red box" or economy rotors are made in china. They use a lower quality steal. The "Blue box" or premium rotors are made in the usa. I can tell you I have compared the two. The blue box rotors are thicker then the red box. The blue box also looks like its been machined better. Hope that helps
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Old 01-02-2007, 02:03 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grover85 View Post
They use a lower quality steal.
steel...

But in any case, rotors are not steel, they are cast iron. Point taken though...thanks for the first hand info.

I'm wondering how they could be thinner though. Even the cheapest of rotors seem like they'd still meet OEM thickness
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Old 01-02-2007, 02:19 AM   #11
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"Made in China"...this only adds to the confusion..when looking at the Rockauto web site, they show the same Front rotor for all 3 lines (Red box, Raymold, Premium) and stamped on the back it says: "Made in Japan"..surely can't be that bad??...made in the USA, could possibly be a play on words..for example some of Nascars products say the same thing, only to find out the components are from some other country(China) and assembled in the US or even just boxed up...kinda the same as German made..mean while the products come from Turkey and as long as the boat stops off in Bremenhaven to pick up the packing boxes, they can legally say Made in Germany or German Made..all rather empty words with todays economy...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grover85 View Post
I can answer the question about raybestos rotors. The "Red box" or economy rotors are made in china. They use a lower quality steal. The "Blue box" or premium rotors are made in the usa. I can tell you I have compared the two. The blue box rotors are thicker then the red box. The blue box also looks like its been machined better. Hope that helps
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Old 01-02-2007, 02:42 AM   #12
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My subaru original rotors that came with the car when new didn't even last 35K and I don't brake hard...
Quote:
Originally Posted by foxboroxt View Post
I went 85k on my original rotors before they started to pulsate badly. I replaced them with Autopart rotors, and they are pulsating badly at 40k. I'm going back to Subaru rotors.
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Old 01-02-2007, 03:23 AM   #13
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I just looked at importecparts.com and there "Made in Germany" front rotor together with the Mountain brand rotor, both say, when zooming in, "Made in Japan"(go figure)..while there rear rotor has stamped on the back side "Made in Canada", which they don't mention at all(would this be offensive to Americans if Canada was mentioned)...Napa being more money is the same.."made in Japan" and useing the same picture as the rockauto site.....interesting enough, I still have not found any rotors that are made in China nor any credible way as to "Determine" what actually makes for a good stock rotor for my 2001 Outback
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Old 01-02-2007, 03:49 AM   #14
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also I tried zooming in on the brembos..could not see where they were made...[quote=TCE;. I'd put my money on Brembo or TRW parts if I could determine where they were made.

...[/quote]
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Old 01-02-2007, 09:04 AM   #15
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DBA parts I know nothing about, sorry. Australia of course but produced there or simply distributed there I can't say.

Canada is a main supplier for Ford rotors however I don't know who the manufacture is and I'd bet they produce rotors for a number of companies. Iron ore is big business in Canada as it is norther Michigan where Coleman is located.

Mexico produces some rotors for both OEM as well as some of the Wilwood line from my digging around. If Eric's around he'll tell you the older Stoptech rotors are based in part on some old Brembo castings from Europe however exactly where they are produced I can't say. And with their recent buyout from a China based company I think we can assume where that production is headed.

Movit does some casting work also in Germany with another company who I can't think the name of right now.

Problem I see is that any rotor brought into this country from Europe is going to cost far more than Asia. No big surprise there. As for better steel...no, they'r all iron. (you don't want steel) and I'd agree the make up of the casting may effect duty cycle and longevity from the little I've read of rotor composite. *I'm no metalurgist and don't claim to have these answers.

To the question; which one is better? I still don't think you'll ever know without some real testing. "It looks better than the other". That's not good enough. I'd like to say you get what you pay for but I'm not even sure that's true!
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Old 01-02-2007, 09:13 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petersubaru View Post
also I tried zooming in on the brembos..could not see where they were made...
For what it's worth, I have some Brembo OE replacement rotors waiting to go on my car. Their boxes state they are products of in Italy.
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Old 01-02-2007, 09:18 AM   #17
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This is turning into fun reading.

Try this:
http://amp.en.alibaba.com/product/50...r/showimg.html

Or this:
http://www.manufacturers.com.tw/diem...n-Casting.html
(bet there's more than one companies product on your car!)

Want to read about "market dumping" of rotors both in finished form or the backdoor unfinished form?
http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2...5/05-22894.htm

More China:
http://www.fuzing.com/vli/00067639d217/car-brake-rotor

This one looks familiar:
http://goldenharvest.en.alibaba.com/...ake_Rotor.html

And for the racers:
http://www.b2bchinasources.com/showr...5&p=0000041271

Last one...I promise.
http://wfhuichang.manufacturer.globa...GetProduct.htm

Last edited by TCE; 01-02-2007 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 01-02-2007, 10:02 AM   #18
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Because it says "made in" for example "Italy" could refer to the box or packageing..I buy stuff all the time for my VW which says "made in germany" or "german made" and the product inside has no stamping on it to its' origin, but only a sticker glued to the product saying made in Turkey or Brazil etc.. some countries require products to reveal their origin and others don't..therefore the convienence of the sticker comes in very handy...IT would be interesting to know if you could look on the back side of the rotor for its origin if in fact there is anything there...
Quote:
Originally Posted by thorongil View Post
For what it's worth, I have some Brembo OE replacement rotors waiting to go on my car. Their boxes state they are products of in Italy.

Last edited by Petersubaru; 01-02-2007 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 01-02-2007, 10:10 AM   #19
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Thorongil..I forgot to mention, could you also check to see if the stamping on the back of the rotor is "Bulged OUT", then it is part of the manufacturing process(casting)..if the stamping looks like it has been "etched in", then I would highly question the origin and the manufactureing of the rotor...this is not to say the product is bad or no good, but only buyer beware...

Last edited by Petersubaru; 01-02-2007 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 01-02-2007, 10:38 AM   #20
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I NEED to correct myself here concerning my reference to "importecparts" in which I said "Made in Germany"...There website in fact simply states "German", but of course still "made in Japan"..Here we are talking car parts, and I still got "duped" by my own thinking in the mist of it all, that, "german and excellent quality are synonymous terms...Who knows what "german" means here,..the packageing or the finished and inspected product, maybe just painted and "smoothened" up in Germany itself or by some German "Out-Sourceing" company in Japan or China...but I must say, they do look attractive on the website...expensive though
Quote:
Originally Posted by Petersubaru View Post
I just looked at importecparts.com and there "Made in Germany" front rotor together with the Mountain brand rotor, both say, when zooming in, "Made in Japan"(go figure)..while there rear rotor has stamped on the back side "Made in Canada", which they don't mention at all(would this be offensive to Americans if Canada was mentioned)...Napa being more money is the same.."made in Japan" and useing the same picture as the rockauto site.....interesting enough, I still have not found any rotors that are made in China nor any credible way as to "Determine" what actually makes for a good stock rotor for my 2001 Outback

Last edited by Petersubaru; 01-02-2007 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 01-02-2007, 11:29 AM   #21
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TCE..After going thru these web sites and seeing that ALMOST all rotors come from China made me think about the so-called German rotor once again which in fact has the "Bulged Out" inscription "Made in Japan",..while the others companies I mentioned have the same term stamped or lasered inscription.(.which would include made in the USA or Canada or Japan)...this causes me to think, that most rotor cores are made in China and finished up in some other country, ...with the exception of the German rotor which was poured or cast in Japan.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TCE View Post
This is turning into fun reading.

Try this:
http://amp.en.alibaba.com/product/50...r/showimg.html

Or this:
http://www.manufacturers.com.tw/diem...n-Casting.html
(bet there's more than one companies product on your car!)

Want to read about "market dumping" of rotors both in finished form or the backdoor unfinished form?
http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2...5/05-22894.htm

More China:
http://www.fuzing.com/vli/00067639d217/car-brake-rotor

This one looks familiar:
http://goldenharvest.en.alibaba.com/...ake_Rotor.html

And for the racers:
http://www.b2bchinasources.com/showr...5&p=0000041271

Last one...I promise.
http://wfhuichang.manufacturer.globa...GetProduct.htm

Last edited by Petersubaru; 01-02-2007 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 01-02-2007, 12:44 PM   #22
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While it does not prove that all those rotors you see for sale are made overseas in China and the like, it does cause one to wonder...
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Old 01-02-2007, 05:06 PM   #23
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Someone needs to test the rotors. Not everything coming out of China is bad; it's just that a lot that does is crap because the companies producing it doesn't care. A good company can do manufacturing there with strong quality controls and produce a good product.

So... really the only way to know is to get a 3rd party to do testing.
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Old 01-02-2007, 05:24 PM   #24
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Agreed, just because a part is manufactured in China, doenst mean its a bad thing. As long as the parts meet a strict quality control specification they shoudl be just as good as a part made somewhere else. Our parent company Centric Parts has foundries throughout the world producing their OE replacement rotors to a set spec. If the parts do not pass QC, they are not sent out.

Our big brake kit rotors are actually made in Italy by the same supplier that has manufactured our parts for many many years and used to manufacture Brembo rotors before they manufactured the parts in-house. I do not know if our rotors will be manufactured in another location in the future, but if they are the metallurgy will not change and the same quality guidelines will have to be followed.

And to clarify something Todd wrote earlier, our parent company is not China based but does source work from China. In fact Centric is run out of California in City of Industry. That being said, all parts are designed and specified in the US with quality being of the utmost importance. This has proven to be something they have worked very hard to acheive but is paying dividends by allowing them to offer high quality inexpensive parts.
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Old 01-02-2007, 06:33 PM   #25
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Sorry Eric, mis information on the parent company part. I knew there was a China connection there but to what extent I did not know.

It goes to the whole Global Economy thing even more. American owned, offshore produced, imported yada-yada. Like someone said above; for what you know as a consumer it may go through two contries before it gets to ebay. And the paper link above shows the complexity of a "finished" part vs that of "made in the USA" if you consider rough castings brought in to be finished here. Or in Mexico, or in....

The whole topic however begs as many questions as it answers. I think it's safe to say there are few if any rotors in the "mainstream" aftermarket that are US made. Or Canadian even. And I agree with you and others that this alone does not mean they are bad parts. Chinese = crap just does not hold up any longer.

It was interesting to do the google searches and see the number of parts shown that look strangely like others on the market....Add to this the reduced machinery costs (also from China! lol) and anyone with a bit of capital can open up a custom rotor shop. (and looking at ebay they have)

I know I'm not investing in six options for one car just to cut them up and evaluate them. More power to someone who does it. Would be an interesting project.
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