Can Warped Rotors Cause Vibration At High Speeds?

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A warped rotor has an uneven or corrugated surface which is mainly caused by extreme heat conditions as is occasioned by the friction whenever the brakes are applied.

Brake rotors commonly become warped when they are glazed with any material from the brake pads, which happens when the brake pads become heated such that their material contents rub off easily onto the brake rotors.

Braking is known to be associated with excessive friction and heat generation, which make the metal components of brake parts a lot more malleable.

As a result of this, the brake pads can easily become warped. If your brake pads press against any warped rotor, it is most likely going to cause shaking or tremors/vibrations to be transmitted through the body of the vehicle.

 Although, it is not only warped rotors that cause vibration in vehicles. For instance, your vehicle can go into vibrations when driving at high speeds if your tires or wheels are out of alignment or even when they are unevenly worn out.

In most cases, your vehicle is bound to vibrate at high speeds upon applying the brakes if the rotors have a fault. On the contrary, if it vibrates at high speeds even when you are not braking, then, you should suspect other causes such as wheel misalignment, bent rims, bad roads, worn-out brake pads, or uneven tire wear.

Yes, warped rotors cause vibration at high speeds especially when you apply the brakes. This is because when your brake pads press against a warped rotor, shakes or vibrations in the vehicle are likely to occur. In addition to the vibration you feel in the vehicle, you are also putting your life as well as the lives of other people on the road at risk if you continue to drive a car that vibrates due to warped rotors.

Other very common causes of vibrations in a vehicle at high speeds include such things as tire damage, bent rims, bad wheel bearings, and loose lug nuts. Vibrations can also occur secondary to the bad axle, worn suspension, and steering components as well as due to incorrect tire pressures or Psi.

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What is a warped rotor?

A warped rotor has a rough surface which is mostly the consequence of exposure to very extreme heat. Specifically, your brake rotors are bound to have rough or uneven surfaces due to the glazing of materials from the brake pads.

Usually, when the brakes are applied, tremendous friction is instantly generated in the brakes which in turn causes a rise in temperature throughout the braking system. As a result of this heat, the material of the brake pads may rub off onto the surface of the rotors.

As this continues, progressive deposits are made on the surface of the rotor which makes it rough and uneven. When this happens, the rotors may fail to properly grip the brake pads even after pressing the brake pedal hard enough to the floorboard. 

To prevent the vibration of the vehicle, you are supposed to smoothen the surface of the rotor with the aid of a lathe.

This will entail the scraping of the roughness from the surface of the rotor. However, great care must be taken to make sure that the thickness of the rotors is not less than what the manufacturers have recommended for resurfacing.

If the rotors are not thick enough to enable you to resurface them safely, you are advised to replace them altogether. If you should resurface thin or worn-out rotors, you risk breaking them in the process entirely.

How does a warped rotor cause vibration at high speed?

The application of brakes while driving leads to the generation of tremendous friction which in turn gives rise to excessive heat of hundreds of degrees Celcius.

Due to this extreme heat condition, the metal components of the brakes become very softened and malleable. Consequently, the continued contact between the brake pads and rotors may eventually cause the rotors to become warped.

Therefore, as the brake pads continue to rub against this warped rotor, it will lead to vibration or tremors passing through the entire vehicle, especially during braking.

However, it is not only warped rotors that cause vibration. Other common causes of vibration running through the vehicle include uneven tire surfaces, wheel misalignment, bent rims, and so on.

Are vibrations necessary for warped rotors?

Yes, as long as the brake rotors are warped, there is a strong possibility that your vehicle will vibrate especially when applying the brakes at high speeds.

This is because if your brake rotors are warped, whenever the brake pads press against them, shakes or vibrations are likely going to run through the body of the vehicle.

It is also very risky to drive a vehicle that vibrates due to warped rotors, just like it is whatever the cause may be. So, yes, warped rotors are some of the causes of tremors going through the vehicle although there are others too.

However, a careful study of how or when the vibrations occur will tell you the exact cause(s). In addition to all these, warped rotors are also indicted in causing vibration and squeaking sounds when the brakes are applied.

Other things warped or worn-out rotors can cause in the vehicle are scraping or grinding noises. Although such noises are also commonly made by worn-out or bad brake pads as well.

However, before you can conclude whether you are dealing with warped rotors or not, you should make sure to isolate other factors that can cause vehicular vibrations even when the brakes are not being applied such as bad roads, worn-out brake pads, bent wheels, or rims, as well as the uneven tire wears and wheels out of alignment.

Do all warped rotors cause vibration at high speeds?

Warped rotors cause vibrations to go through the vehicle especially at high speeds whenever you apply the brakes by pressing the brake pedal.

Conversely, if your car vibrates at high speeds regardless of whether you are applying the brakes or not at the time, then, it is very unlikely that these tremors are caused by warped rotors.

Some common factors that can lead to vibrations in the body of the vehicle include bad wheel balancing and alignment, bent rims, and many others as well.

Notably, if your steering wheel shakes whenever you are applying the brakes, the reason could be due to poorly round-off brake rotors, which can equally be felt through the brake pedal.

Again, if your brake caliper is stuck on, it can also lead to vibrations in the vehicle as well.

Along the same vein, should your brake rotors not have any roughened or friction-prone surface(s), it is highly unlikely for it to cause vibrations in the vehicle.

Can warped rotors cause vibration at low speeds?

Yes, even when braking at low speeds, your vehicle can vibrate due to warped rotors. However, some of the commonest factors that cause a vibration in a vehicle are out of round or misshapen tires, and in some cases where the tread or internal belts of the tires have detached from its body.

In these situations, your vehicle is bound to vibrate even at speeds as low as 30 km/h. Additionally, any kind of production defect can also cause vibration in the vehicle, which can put at risk the lives of other people on the road too.

In a nutshell, warped rotors can cause a vehicle to vibrate at low speeds but mainly when the brakes are applied.

Can a warped rotor cause vibration without braking?

It is common for warped rotors to make your vehicle vibrate annoyingly upon the application of the brakes by pressing the brake pedal.

This is one method of differentiating vibrations of the vehicle due to warped rotors and those caused by worn-out brake pads.

Specifically, if your vehicle vibrates even when the brakes are not applied, you should think of worn-out brake pads or other causes like bent rims, unevenly worn-out tires, wheels out of alignment, or bad road conditions more than just warped rotors.

Essentially, therefore, warped rotors hardly cause the vibration of the vehicle even at high speeds unless the brakes are being applied. Otherwise, you are most likely having problems with other similar factors complicit in causing the vibration of the vehicle.

Can Warped Rotors Cause Vibration At High Speeds – Conclusion

Conventionally, brake rotors are not supposed to trigger any vibration in the vehicle when the brakes are applied even at high speeds.

However, when their surfaces are uneven or rough, they can elicit a general tremor in the vehicle particularly at high speeds if the brakes are applied.

Vibrations in the vehicle can occur at high speeds without necessarily applying the brakes. However, in this situation, it may not be the rotors that have a problem but worn-out brake pads, wheel misalignment, uneven tire conditions, or bad roads.

Knowing the exact cause(s) of these vibrations will enable the use of proper solutions, which will save both time and money.

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