Best rotors for my type of driving ? | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Best rotors for my type of driving ?


Well-Known Member
March 20, 2011
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Year, Model & Trim Level
08 LTD

Looking to replace the front rotors on my 08 LTD. Pads were done at 63K in 2011. Rotors MAY have been done but may have also been turned instead, I am not sure but this was done at the dealer as a condition of purchasing the car. (Getting rid of the pulsing).

87k on the clock now. Feels like rotors are out of round. Pads have plenty of meat on them. Though the inner pad has slightly less than the outer pad. Calipers appear to slide freely on the stainless steel guide clips.

I put about 8-9k miles on per year. I drive mostly short commutes, not much downtown city driving, and I tow a 5500 lb travel trailer about 2000 miles across 5 weekend trips over the summer.

As I mentioned rotors appear to be out of round, they currently measure 1.160 inches in thickness. Spec is 1.145 if I recall correctly.

I'd like to get a decent pair that won't warp in 25k miles, but if "they all do that", It might be better to get the lesser expensive ones and replace them more often. I don't need a "performance" rotor and I don't race, go off road etc. But if that's what it takes to get some longevity out of them, then I would certainly consider them.

Any suggestions on which rotors to look at for my situation?



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Honestly, I installed the store brand rotors from Advanced Auto Parts with no problems. On my second set in 150K miles. They are reasonably priced so I replace them whenever the pads are worn out.


I too am trying to figure out what rotors to buy. They are all made in China! I hope someone can steer us to some that won't warp right away.

I don't bother turning rotors any more. Everything is from China now anyway, so just get something middle of the road from auto store, and replace them when you feel pulsing. I would recommend you get rotors that have a decent coating on the non-braking surfaces, so they don't show rust thru the wheels. But as far as performance, none of the drilled/slotted/cryo stuff is needed for everyday vehicles. I'm an engineer in the automotive braking industry, and none of that stuff makes it to the production floor unless it's for a niche vehicle, and then, it's usually just to look cool.


Thanks for the information. I have followed many of your posts. IMO you have some of the best knowledge on the forum, not to slight others. This place if FULL of very knowledgeable people.

I think I am going to go with the Wearever Gold rotors from Advance Auto (Approx $55 each) and see what happens. I have read several reviews, and folks have had decent luck with them. Any suggestion on pads? Semi-metallic or ceramic.

On a related note, I just now had the opportunity to have a helper drive the car for me with me in the back seat, and also outside to try and get a little more information on what is happening.

Here is my situation. As mentioned the car got new front pads and possibly rotors when I bought it in 2011 about 25k miles ago. I did the rear pads (not rotors) in 2012.

There are three "things" I am trying to diagnose. I am not ruling out a left front brake issue as the cause for all 3.

1. Brakes pulsing. Currently, brakes pulse (out of round). I am pretty sure it's the fronts, but because of the E brakes setup on this vehicle, I can't isolate the front from the rear with the E brake (top hat rear rotors).

2. When turning the car slightly left or right at speed, I hear what sounds like tires out of balance. Road noise. Going straight it pretty much goes away. I know these cars are known for wheel bearing issues. I have done several (non-Ford) wheel bearings in my past, and they all sounded the same when they started to go. I am familiar with that noise. This noise does not sound like a "standard" wheel bearing noise, but I don't know if the Explorers are any different in their sound. I rotated the tires yesterday. The noise did not move. Appears to still be left front related.

3. When slowing to a stop, the brakes as mentioned, pulse. As the car comes to the last 2-3 revolutions of the wheel before the car stops, there is a slow, rhythmic "creaking" that coincides with each pulse. It is definitely coming from the left front, and only while braking. This "creaking" is very faint, and sounds like when a rubber sway bar bushing goes dry. But it's def not sway bar or suspension related.

I've read a lot here about the caliper bracket bolts working their way loose. After the rain stops I am going to jack up the car and get a better look, and check the caliper bracket bolts. Also, will check caliper slides etc. I don't want to put new rotors on, only to have them damaged by other components.

The last brake job I did, was on my old GM and I had to replace the guide pin boots. One thing I found was that they were so tight, that they trapped air was compressing and it was actually making them "spring back" to a "neutral" position. Is this normal? How does it "adjust" or compensate for it.

I know I've sort of gone off topic. My apologies in advance. Maybe I can change the tags.



I've posted a few pics here:

PJW73NH, the one thing I noticed you didn't mention when you said you did the other brake work on the vehicle is change the brake fluid. While changing the fluid won't get rid of pulsing I have found that the OEM fluid oxidizes pretty fast and fresh fluid does make a big difference on pedal feel, plus I usually find a small amount of air in the lines particularly the one that runs right next to the exhaust (LR).
I actually warped my OEM front rotors within the first 25K miles on my V6 Mountaineer by towing less than 1 ton twice over short distances and had to have them resurfaced only to have them warp again a little over a year later (I knew that resurfacing was only a short term fix). After that I looked into the "cryo" style rotors but went with an EBC slotted rotor with the "green stuff" pad because I could get that setup for less than the "cryo" brand rotors and knew that the EBC rotors were still not manufactured in China and held to high quality control standards. With 50K miles on my current setup and plenty of heavy towing, no more warped/pulsing rotors and when the pads wear out the only thing to replace should be the pads.
Looking at your pictures it looks like a normal use setup is what you want and I believe that a standard rotor with a semi metallic Falcon pad is what most individuals recommend for an improved non towing setup (search and you should be able to find the thread that talks about using Falcon pads). BTW your pads/rotors show similar wear patterns to my OEM setup that was replaced at just over 30K miles.

Thanks Flag. I am going to try and change the fluid this week.

What I have done today is, Rotors (Wearever gold), Pads (Ford OEM), guide pins and boots.

When I got the calipers off, the bottom guide pin on the left was sticky, the bottom right was completely seized. The two tops were ok.

I cleaned out the guide bores, bought new pins & boots, lubed them up and put it all back together. No surprises thus far. No noise, smooth braking. The remaining question is why if the RIGHT bottom pin was seized, was it the LEFT wheel making the creaking noise. I suppose the pulsing could have been from either one or both.

Anyway, I'm going to change the fluid in the next week or so, just as a matter of maintenance.

I still have problem #2 listed above. The "road" noise issue. Might be tires. If it's a bearing, it sure doesn't sound like any bearing I've ever heard go bad.

Thanks for all the help folks.


I've always had a hard time locating noises like you describe. When I first bought this explorer I had a set of cheap tires on it that were making noise as they were getting to the end of their life. The tires masked bearing noise for me and made it harder to tell what was going on. So in my case I had both tire noise and bearing noise at the same time.

Your issues #1 and #3 seem together to be pointing toward bad left-front rotors (change both). The creaking you are hearing toward the end of the stop could be from the pad clips. Theory: At high-speed, the alleged warped rotor gives you that pulsing feel, since the pads are able to compress slightly, absorbing some of the impact from the rotor's high-spot. The pads start to move, but by then the hi-spot has moved on, wanting the pads to move the other way. Sort of like a hi-speed cam working on a compressible material. But when you get to a slower speed, the shoes have time to move directly with the warp in the rotor. At this slow speed, you could simply be getting clip-creaks simply by friction between the shoe-steel and the clips. I would expect this to go away if you changed the pads and greased the clips, even if you didn't replace the rotors. But it would come back.

Recommend you replace front pads and rotors.

I've never used the Wearever house brand. I usually watch for a rebate/sale on something that is packaged with new clips. But that is becoming hard to find. If not too expensive, consider replacing the clips, too, if they look gouged/bent, etc.


Thanks for the reply. I'm not sure if you saw post #7 above in this thread. It details what I did a few days ago. Though I guess I forgot to mention the clips. Yes, the OEM Ford pads came with a new set of stainless steel clips. I cleaned up the caliper bracket lands where the clips attach with a wire wheel, I put the new clips on and lubed them lightly with Raybestos silicone brake grease.

I had seen many posts in this forum mentioning the caliper bracket bolts coming loose. Mine were not loose. When I re-installed the brackets, I used a bit of red loctite, and torqued them to 122 Ft Lbs.

One thing I noticed (and I will have to check whether I have a picture of it or not), is when I got the rotors off, it looked like there was black grease/gunk between the face of the hub and the back, mating surface of the rotor. I cleaned it off with brake cleaner before installing the new rotors.

Could this "gunk" have prevented the rotor from "seating" true on the wheel hub, thus adding to my "pulsing" ? Why would this stuff be there? I know they mention putting a little anti-seize on the hub spindle for ease of removal next time. But this seemed like a lot of black schmutz. It was on both the left and right hubs.



A light film of anti-sieze is not uncommon (I do that, too) but should be be clumping. Anything that could cause 1 side to be out of plane will have the same effect (pulsing) as a warped rotor. But if it was still fluid-like, and able to flow, then it was probably a consistent thickness over the surface once clamped down.

This is the same reason we are taught to tighten down in a star pattern, and progressively. I always tighten all bolts in a star pattern, first to practically no torque, then to half-torque, then to full-torque.


There is no doubt at all that it was clumping. Not much, but it was certainly enough to not spread evenly over the mating surface. I bet this combined with the seized pin was enough to cause the premature rotor wear.