Disc brake rotors are metal discs that work with the calipers and brake pads to slow your truck. Since brake rotors are directly bolted into the wheel hub, they can spin in direct relation to the speed of your wheels. When you press the brake pedal, the calipers push the pads on the rotors to slow the wheels and stop your truck. Since rotors use friction from direct contact with the brake pads in order to slow your Dodge Ram 1500, they will sustain normal wear-and-tear over time and will eventually require replacement. However, when rotors are coming up on the end of their lifespan, they will typically produce a few systems to let you know they need attention.
What are Brake Parts? The typical brake system consists of either drum or disk brakes in the rear and disk brakes in the front. These components are connected by a system of hoses and tubes that link the brake, located at each wheel, to the master cylinder. Other systems connected to the brake system include the anti-lock system, the power brake booster and the parking brakes.
When you push on your Ram 1500’s brake pedal, you are essentially pushing against a plunger within the master cylinder. This process forces brake fluid, or hydraulic oil, through the series of hoses and tubes to the braking unit at every wheel. Since the fluid can’t be compressed, pushing it through a pipe is much like pushing a metal bar through a pipe. However, unlike a metal bar, fluid can be directed through many turns and twists as it travels to its destination, and it will arrive with the same pressure and motion it started with. It’s very important that the fluid is pure and that it is free and clear of air bubbles. Since air can compress, bubbles may cause the pedal to feel like a sponge, and you’ll notice significantly reduced braking efficiency. If you suspect air in your line, you must bleed the system via the “bleeding screws” located at each caliper and wheel cylinder.
On the actual disc brake, the fluid arrives from the master cylinder and is pushed into the caliper where it then presses against a piston. In turn, the two brake pads are squeezed by the piston against the disk, or rotor, that is connected to a wheel. This is what forces the truck to stop or slow down. It is very similar process to a brake on a bicycle in that two rubber pads rub against the rim of the wheel to create friction.
With the drum brakes, fluid is then forced into the wheel cylinder, which pushes out the brake shoes so that the friction linings press against the drum. Since the drum is attached to the wheel, the end result is that your wheels eventually stop.
In both cases, whether it be the friction of the pads on a disk brake system or the shoes on a drum brake, the truck’s braking components convert the forward motion of the truck into heat. It’s this heat that causes the linings, or friction surfaces, of the shoes and pads to eventually wear down and require replacement.
Signs Your Brake Rotor or Disc is Failing Over time, your brake rotors will suffer normal wear-and-tear as they continuously work to slow your vehicle. However, there are several symptoms of a failing rotor that you shouldn’t ignore since doing so could not only mean expensive repairs down the road but also a potential safety hazard should the rotors fail to stop your truck from slowing down.
1. Vibrations from the brakes. One symptom commonly associated with failing brake rotors is excessive pulsation or vibration coming from the brakes. Excessively worn or warped rotors may vibrate at irregular intervals and cause vibrations you can feel in the pedal, and in some cases, through the truck’s chassis. When you apply the brakes, you may also notice a pulsating feel in the pedal caused by warped rotors.
2. Noisy brakes. A common early symptom of bad brake rotors, noise could indicate something’s wrong. If the rotors are not perfectly flat, or warped, or severely worn, they may produce a squealing or squeaking sound. Typically, warped rotors will give off a squeak, while you’ll hear a scraping sound if the rotors are severely worn. However, squealing could come from worn brake pads as well, so it’s important to do a thorough inspection to accurately locate the cause of the sound.
3. Score marks or grooves on the rotor. Another sign that your rotors are failing is visual grooves or scoring on the face of the rotor. Over time, these marks may develop directly on the rotor as a result of repeated contact with the brake pads. Grooves and scoring in the rotor can negatively impact its ability to slow your truck and cause pulsation and vibration that you can feel in the pedal. In most cases, grooved or scored rotors require replacement.
Your rotors are a critical component of your braking system, and as such, they are vital to the overall handling characteristics and safety of your truck. If you believe that your rotors may be damaged or worn, it’s important to inspect the system carefully to determine the source of the problem.
Conclusion As is the case with many car parts, there is a price difference between economy, standard and premium brake parts for your Dodge Ram 1500. When purchasing new brakes and rotors, it’s important to know that the quality of metal of the rotor can majorly impact the rotor’s life and performance. However, there’s no way to judge quality simply based on its appearance alone, so it’s important to do your research before making a purchase. Regardless of your budget, any new braking system component is safer for yourself and your car than old, worn-down brakes, so any purchase you make will be beneficial for your Dodge Ram 1500.