Another common brake system improvement involves upgrading the surface that the brake pads apply friction to, the brake rotors. Brake rotors are not only a friction surface, they’re also heat sinks. This means that they must draw away and dissipate the heat produced by the friction with the pads efficiently to ensure consistent braking performance and to stave off brake fade. Factory brake rotors are typically composed of iron due to cost, longevity and heat capacity for the everyday driver. However, to save on cost, typical factory rotors do not benefit from the design elements and heat dissipation characteristics of aftermarket brake rotors.
Aftermarket brake rotors can offer a variety of benefits thanks to engineering innovations such as improved vane design (in the case of vented rotors) as well as cross drilling, slotting and other surface treatments. In the search for improved methods of heat dissipation, some manufacturers of vented rotors have implemented proprietary vane designs to facilitate improved airflow for better cooling of the rotors. As an added measure of cooling, some have turned to cross-drilling the rotor surface. However, it is not unheard of for cracks to develop between the holes of a cross-drilled rotor after repeated heating and cooling cycles over time. Another brake rotor type is the slotted rotor. The slots cut into the rotor surface help to optimize the friction surface area while helping to release the gasses that build up between the friction material of the pad and the rotor surface. However, this rotor type also causes accelerated wear on the pads, shortening the typical service life of the pads.