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E39 (1997 - 2003)
The BMW 5-Series (E39 chassis) was introduced in the United States as a 1997 model year car and lasted until the 2004 when the E60 chassis was released. The United States saw several variations including the 525i, 528i, 530i and 540i. -- View the E39 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 03-20-2013, 08:49 PM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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Cool Would you pay for a BMW rotor ?

Hi guys,

I know there are tons of brake related threads, and I have read them for 3 days by now, but they almost exclusively focus on brake pads. Have only read one or two about rotors. Alas, after hours of reading posts about brake pads I decided to stick with Jurid (OEMs).

But with front rotors, I'm still undecided which brand to purchase (only doing the front brakes), oscillating between Zimmerman Z Coated (plain) and genuine BMW. Zimmerman's are about $68 while BMW's cost $108. I read about Zimmerman versus Brembo rotors but with the later selling for ~$92, for that price I would rather get the OEMs.

So based on your experience, is $50 price difference between Zimmerman and BMW rotors justified ? If you were to do the brake job again now, would you go for OEM rotors ?

And if any of you have Zimmerman Coat Z (plain, not interested in drilled or slotted), does the coat on the hat last and protect a long time ? Or rather I will have to paint the hat to make sure I keep the rust out ?

Thanks a lot !
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  #2  
Old 03-20-2013, 11:28 PM
edjack edjack is online now
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Balo has been good to me.
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  #3  
Old 03-21-2013, 03:35 AM
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Flybot Flybot is online now
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A plain brake disk is one of the most low-tech parts on the car. Not much to diferentiate between brands. JMO, but I would go with the cheapest ones.
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  #4  
Old 03-21-2013, 04:28 AM
Mikes530 Mikes530 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flybot View Post
A plain brake disk is one of the most low-tech parts on the car. Not much to diferentiate between brands. JMO, but I would go with the cheapest ones.
+1 Unless you're tracking, go with basic rotors and save a lot of $. They're just fine for street use.
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  #5  
Old 03-21-2013, 04:35 AM
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I've had the original Zimmerman (no coating) and there was no discernible difference between them and the OEM.
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  #6  
Old 03-21-2013, 06:23 AM
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tmvE39/E53/Z32 tmvE39/E53/Z32 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw4te View Post
Hi guys,

I know there are tons of brake related threads, and I have read them for 3 days by now, but they almost exclusively focus on brake pads. Have only read one or two about rotors. Alas, after hours of reading posts about brake pads I decided to stick with Jurid (OEMs).

But with front rotors, I'm still undecided which brand to purchase (only doing the front brakes), oscillating between Zimmerman Z Coated (plain) and genuine BMW. Zimmerman's are about $68 while BMW's cost $108. I read about Zimmerman versus Brembo rotors but with the later selling for ~$92, for that price I would rather get the OEMs.

So based on your experience, is $50 price difference between Zimmerman and BMW rotors justified ? I would get the Zimmerman's If you were to do the brake job again now, would you go for OEM rotors ? No, they are overpriced.

And if any of you have Zimmerman Coat Z (plain, not interested in drilled or slotted), does the coat on the hat last and protect a long time ? Or rather I will have to paint the hat to make sure I keep the rust out ? Zinc coating should last a long time.

Thanks a lot !
Replies in quote.
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  #7  
Old 03-21-2013, 06:26 AM
Bennt771 Bennt771 is offline
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Warping is always an issue for cheap rotors. Usually related to "china" products.
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  #8  
Old 03-21-2013, 07:02 AM
rdl rdl is offline
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I don't agree that all rotor are equally good with nothing to choose between brands and grades. Although not high tech, cast iron is a reasonably complicated blend of chemistry, melt, casting & heat treating equipment, process management, and quality control. There are poor, good, better and best companies.

EDIT Machining and surfacing equipment too, come to think of it.

By way of illustration, one of my previous cars ran ~150k miles on the factory original rotors without a single problem. I then replaced them with "professional grade" rotors from a well known brand, which I later found out were the grade intended for brake jobs to pass a safety inspection at the least possible cost. I had nothing but hard and sticky spots with resultant braking shudder after 10k miles. I almost qualified for the volume discount for rotor refinishing at the local shop.
I then got smart and installed better rotors. I drove them without problem 120k miles until the car died of a failed headgasket.

While I personally wouldn't pay the BMW logo price premium, I would definitely choose a good brand name & their premium grade rotor. The $100 to $200 potential savings on a 4 rotor set isn't worth the aggravation. Note that some of those good brands offer only a single grade, i.e. a premium one, while other brands offer a single grade - cheap in every way. Check the threads in the forums for a list of those reliable brands.
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Last edited by rdl; 03-21-2013 at 07:15 AM.
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  #9  
Old 03-21-2013, 07:26 AM
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First off, the OP should have started this quest by typing /rotor F3 in the best links, and this would have come up:
- What E39 street use brake pads (1) and rotors (1) and suppliers (1) are most often recommended & how long do rotors last (1) & what's the real difference between drilled, slotted, and solid rotors (1) & what's the difference between various brands of solid rotors (1)

Without repeating all that is said in those threads, I'm in the category that a solid rotor by another name would stop the bimmer just as well.

Note: Until/unless there are standard rotor tests, all is mere conjecture.

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Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need

Last edited by bluebee; 03-22-2013 at 05:43 AM.
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  #10  
Old 03-21-2013, 09:34 PM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edjack View Post
Balo has been good to me.
Thanks for feedback edjack. Unfortunately today it seems next to impossible to get Balo front rotors. Balo for rear rotors: no problem but front ... errr, nobody appears to sell them any more .
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  #11  
Old 03-21-2013, 10:39 PM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
First off, the OP should have started this ques by typing /rotor F3 in the best links, and this would have come up:
- What E39 street use brake pads (1) and rotors (1) and suppliers (1) are most often recommended & how long do rotors last (1) & what's the real difference between drilled, slotted, and solid rotors (1) & what's the difference between various brands of solid rotors (1)
Hi bluebee ,

Thanks very much for your feedback. Trust me, I did read those threads any many more on other forums before posting. They helped me in deciding to stay with Jurid pads.

However while there is a ton of opinions about the performance of any possible pad brand compared to other brands, the threads about rotors are few, some very old, and look more like a general discussion, albeit fascinating, but without a conclusion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Without repeating all that is said in those threads, I'm in the category that a solid rotor by another name would stop the bimmer just as well.
That's was one information I was after with my thread. Is there a some common agreement on this forum that the genuine BMW rotors help in stopping the bimmer faster than using any other aftermarket ? (street use only, no track) Will the pads bite better into the BMWs one than aftermarket ? Or do BMW genuine rotors have a better rust resistance than coated aftermarket ? If the answer to any of those is yes, then I am willing to bite the bullet and pay for OEMs. Couldn't care less about brake dust but rust ... no no no

I highly appreciate your efforts during all these years to concentrate and summarize information. The threads you produced as a result of your searching are priceless. Unfortunately they also have a mighty enemy: "the passing of time". They date back to 2010 and as a result the information within may be outdated and irrelevant today. Some products are no longer available, some companies went out of business or no longer sell that product, new cheaper suppliers, etc.

For example Balo front rotors: I doubt they are manufactured anymore. Rear ? Yes ! But not front.

Suppliers ? For BMW genuine parts I believe www.getbmwparts.com is as far as I can tell the cheapest. Haven't find a single online shop yet that beats those prices.

For anything else, in no particular order: AutohausAZ, Pelican Parts and ECS Tuning are really the top 3.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by bmw4te; 03-21-2013 at 10:41 PM.
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  #12  
Old 03-21-2013, 10:57 PM
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I like Zimmerman & meyle.

I've had Zimmerman on the 550i for 2 years now, and no rust. (Just a bit dirty from brake dust)
I've had Meyle on the both 540i's and no rust or problems.

OEM is pointless and the lack of a non-rust coating makes them even more pointless. IMO.
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  #13  
Old 03-22-2013, 04:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw4te View Post
That's was one information I was after with my thread. Is there a some common agreement on this forum that the genuine BMW rotors help in stopping the bimmer faster than using any other aftermarket ? No (street use only, no track) Will the pads bite better into the BMWs one than aftermarket ? No Or do BMW genuine rotors have a better rust resistance than coated aftermarket ? No If the answer to any of those is yes, then I am willing to bite the bullet and pay for OEMs. Couldn't care less about brake dust but rust ... no no no
See above
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  #14  
Old 03-22-2013, 05:52 AM
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bluebee bluebee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw4te View Post
the threads about rotors are few,
That's because a rotor is a rotor for the most part, excepting blitz and junk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw4te View Post
Is there a some common agreement on this forum that the genuine BMW rotors help in stopping the bimmer faster
Your personality is coming through here, in that you believe BMW M-A-R-K-E-T-I-N-G makes a BMW 'thing' somehow better.

Let me ask two questions of you so you can answer your own question:
Q1: What is the friction coefficient of steel?
Q2: What is the friction coefficient of BMW steel?

The difference between the two, is the added value of BMW rotors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw4te View Post
Will the pads bite better into the BMWs one than aftermarket ?
From what planet did THAT question come from?

Clearly you are easily swayed by M A R K E T I N G.

Again, I ask:
Q1: What is the friction coefficient of the "aftermarket" pad you speak of?
Q2: What is the friction coefficient of the "BMW" pads, you infer?

Note: We know the Jurid/Textar OEM pads to be FF friction coefficients.
- What friction grade (e.g., EE, FF, EF, etc.) is recommended for BMW E39 brake pads (1) (2)

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw4te View Post
Or do BMW genuine rotors have a better rust resistance than coated aftermarket ?
Why would they?
(See other answers above regarding the coating - but even without those answers, why would they, unless they were stainless steel?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw4te View Post
Suppliers ?
I ran a survey a while back of suppliers. You should update THAT thread so that others will find it more easily.
- What are the best brake pad & rotor suppliers (1)
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Each repair should invariably add to our knowledge base by the process of inexorable incrementalism.
Your job, in return, is to read the suggested threads, where the best people will always add value to those threads, either by pictures or by descriptions, so the next person with the same problem stands on your shoulders.
See also: E39 Bestlinks & How to easily find what you need
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  #15  
Old 03-22-2013, 07:51 AM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fudman View Post
See above
Thank you Fudman ! I really appreciate your pragmatism and to the point, no fuss answers. Thank you again.
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  #16  
Old 03-22-2013, 08:42 AM
Mikes530 Mikes530 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
, in that you believe BMW M-A-R-K-E-T-I-N-G makes a BMW 'thing' somehow better.
Exactly!

Do you think that BMW "recommends Castrol" because it's better or because Castrol was plastered on the side of the (since discontinued) BMW F1 race car? If you believe the former then shell out the big bucks, buy BMW rotors and enjoy the perception of higher quality.
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  #17  
Old 03-22-2013, 08:55 AM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw4te View Post
the threads about rotors are few,
That's because a rotor is a rotor for the most part, excepting blitz and junk.
No, I don't think that's the reason. But rather we change (plain) rotors far less often than pads so experience is still rather limited.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Your personality is coming through here, in that you believe BMW M-A-R-K-E-T-I-N-G makes a BMW 'thing' somehow better.
Clearly you are easily swayed by M A R K E T I N G.
No. But it happens that I do pay attention to, and I do read other's opinions on this forum on the exact threads you have pointed out:

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw_n00b13 View Post
The quality of steel and manufacturing process is why I wouldn't order a Chinese brand. I'd be worried about what happens the first time I go down a mountain and the brakes get hot. Ever see a Chery crash test video? They're probably out of round, unbalanced, and brittle.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdl View Post
I believe that there is a definite difference between brake rotors. If the foundry does not have good technology and quality control, all sorts of inconsistent grain structure and inter-metallic compounds (hard spots) are probable. Besides, consider that many aftermarket brake manufacturers sell 2 or more grades of rotors with the price ratio approaching 2 to 1. While I doubt the cost ratio is that high, I'm pretty sure that there is a difference between the bottom & premium grades. Unless their product spec sheets and descriptions are pure fairy tales.

I think that many common brake vibration problems are a result of the irregularities throughout the rotor. Further, the temperatures created during braking can be high enough to cause changes in the grain microstructure and growth of inter-metallic compounds that will affect the surface condition of the rotor. Especially if the foundry practices are deficient. A lot of reading and a little personal experience leads me to believe that at the very least, many "warped" rotor are not in fact distorted, but rather have hard spots of intermetallics &/or resultant uneven brake pad deposits on the rotor friction surfaces due to the irregularities. Both will cause braking effect variation as the wheel rotates.[...]
Quote:
Originally Posted by 90K528 View Post
That being said, you never know what you're getting these days. I'd always bought nothing but Zimmerman rotors for my track 911. But after breaking two of them in a year, and hearing others tell me the same thing, I changed. I'd had good luck with Zimmermans on my track 911s for years but all of a sudden they've become less reliable. I also used nothing but SKF front wheel bearings for decades on the 911's but this past winter I couldn't get one to slip on the spindle. I pulled out my digital caliper and measured them and they were out of round. I had 6 sets in my parts bin and measured them all. 2 were bad- the first one that was out of round and a second one that had an ID that was smaller than all the others. The 4 good ones were made in Germany, the two crappy ones were from Indonesia. What I'd thought was a good German company was sourcing some of their parts from the far east and the quality control was junk.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason5driver View Post
+1.
Chinese/ Asian metal = junk IMO.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
The reference said to count the number of vanes in the old and new rotor.
They said it should have equal numbers of vanes, and they specifically said fewer vanes would be detrimental to cooling.
***

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmw4te View Post
Or do BMW genuine rotors have a better rust resistance than coated aftermarket ?
Why would they?
Ummm, cause they used a better quality coat ? Or process ? Or thicker coat ? Or some other proprietary thing ? I do not need to know "why and how". I want to know **if** from real life experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
I ran a survey a while back of suppliers. You should update THAT thread so that others will find it more easily.
Point taken.


Bluebee, I think you completely misunderstood my original post and reasoning behind it. I wanted to hear from forum members about their real life experience. Nothing to do with marketing. And whether they have changed their opinions in the past two years since this subject was originally covered. Honestly, a simple "Yes/No" answer to my original post would have been enough.

Anyway, I got my answers so I consider this subject closed for me.
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  #18  
Old 03-22-2013, 08:58 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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BALO is the best bang for the bucks.
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Old 03-22-2013, 09:01 AM
HTK12 HTK12 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluebee View Post
Your personality is coming through here, in that you believe BMW M-A-R-K-E-T-I-N-G makes a BMW 'thing' somehow better.

Let me ask two questions of you so you can answer your own question:
Q1: What is the friction coefficient of steel?
Q2: What is the friction coefficient of BMW steel?

The difference between the two, is the added value of BMW rotors.



From what planet did THAT question come from?

Clearly you are easily swayed by M A R K E T I N G.
There is the same difference as there is with the expansion tank. BMW may or may not have higher stardard that the parts are produced, when compared to aftermarket parts.
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  #20  
Old 03-22-2013, 09:22 AM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikes530 View Post
Exactly!

Do you think that BMW "recommends Castrol" because it's better or because Castrol was plastered on the side of the (since discontinued) BMW F1 race car? If you believe the former then shell out the big bucks, buy BMW rotors and enjoy the perception of higher quality.
As it happens, Castrol Edge 0W-30 European formula is an exceptional oil and I am sure many buy it when on sale.

Look I do NOT preach the "buy only BMW" parts mantra. Not-at-all. But there are a few (again **few**) items on our cars where I share other opinions that I should buy the genuine thing (such as the tranny filter) even if there are other cheaper options available.

So my question was "is BMW rotors" one of those items ? Yes or no. Cause braking is a critical part of the car. Simple question, and it was just a question. I did not back up the "BMW rotors are much better than anything else" in any way.

So the answer is no. That's great that I can save some money. Why did people got so worked up ?

Last edited by bmw4te; 03-22-2013 at 09:50 AM.
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  #21  
Old 03-22-2013, 09:30 AM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cn90 View Post
BALO is the best bang for the bucks.
Agreed But they don't seem to manufacture front rotors for my model any more. Can't find them anywhere. My real options now are ATE and Zimmerman both coated. Hopefully made in Europe ...

Last edited by bmw4te; 03-22-2013 at 09:56 AM.
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  #22  
Old 03-22-2013, 09:52 AM
cn90 cn90 is offline
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Many years ago, I used to care about ATE, Zimmerman, BALO etc.

Now that I am getting older, the only thing I care is Brake Pad, for that I use Pagid, Textar etc.

The disc: it is just a hunk of metal (I know some people will "attack" me for this), as long as you get a decent hunk of metal, you are OK.
FYI, I used Duralast Rotor in my 2007 Honda Odyssey, 4 years later, still good.


For 2003 530i, the Duralast front rotor (PN 34202@ Autozone) is $50 for your car.

Last edited by cn90; 03-22-2013 at 10:59 AM.
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  #23  
Old 03-22-2013, 10:11 AM
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Agreed, like I said in post #3. For such a simple thing, this thread is (has) entered into the "Over Analyzed Topic" zone. Yet, I cant stop reading it....
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  #24  
Old 03-22-2013, 10:48 AM
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Fudman Fudman is offline
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I think these are all good points raised regarding rotor selection. To simplify things for the next person interested in rotors, here is a recap of the bidding and some other time-honored truisms regarding rotors:

1. Stopping distances are not affected by the brand of rotor.
2. Rotors do not have a major affect on subjective braking attributes like modulation, feel, bite, etc. These are primarily affected by brake pad brand and material.
3. All rotors will rust (on the braking surface). Coated rotors (edges, hats, etc.) rust less than uncoated rotors.
4. Some rotors might result in fade earlier than others due to design or material but most rotors should have similar fade qualities.
5. OE rotors are no worse but are not necessarily better than aftermarket rotors.
6. Stick with a recognizable brand of rotor and the quality should be adequate.
7. Holes and grooves on rotors are cosmetic bling and serve no functional purpose on a street car. However, they do look cool!
8. Poorly drilled holes can result in premature rotor life due to stress cracking.
9. Rotors rarely, if ever, warp. Most pedal pulsations are due to pad deposits left on the surface of the rotor.
10. Bedding a rotor can usually remove these deposits and eliminate braking squeaking.

Bottom line, you will not achieve noticeable braking performance improvements by changing rotors. You can achieve appearance improvements and you might achieve limited durability improvements. The size of your wallet should determine the optimal rotor solution for your needs.
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  #25  
Old 03-22-2013, 12:03 PM
bmw4te bmw4te is offline
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Thanks Fudman for that summary ! It is much more that I would have hoped for !

Even if I haven't thanked individually to every poster who took the time to share their thoughts, I did read your input and I thank you again now. It was appreciated !

Quote:
Originally Posted by rdl View Post
I almost qualified for the volume discount for rotor refinishing at the local shop.
Sorry, couldn't help ! That was I guess the funniest input of the thread ...
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