Brake Discs Are Lipped’ Meaning? When to Replace Them?

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Have you recently heard someone saying their brake discs are lipped and wondered what this means? Are you a beginner with no idea how to maintain a vehicle’s brake discs and when is the right time to replace them? 

If you have answered yes to the above-mentioned questions, you are at the right place. Brake discs are undoubtedly the most crucial part of a vehicle; without them, your car is no good, no matter how good it is. As the name suggests, these discs work with the wheel to help slow down your vehicle, eventually stopping it. 

Whenever someone says the brake discs are lipped, they are actually referring to their worn-out condition. Lipped brake discs will affect the performance of your car while applying brakes, eventually harming your overall experience. 

We have compiled a detailed guide for you, throwing light on the expression “brake discs are lipped.” We will also explore various brake discs’ uses, their role in a car’s functioning, tips to maintain these discs, and some tricks to extend their lifespan. 


What Is the Meaning of “Brake Discs Are Lipped”? 

To begin with, let us first introduce the expression “Brake Dics are Lipped” to you. If you have never heard of the lipped discs, you are not alone, as many people out there are unfamiliar with this term. This expression is just as the words suggest, i.e., if you see a noticeable lip on the brake rotors or discs, it means that your brake discs are lipped. 

Generally, these lips are seen when the brake pads don’t come in contact with the entire rotor surface, leaving it with a lip-like outbreak. It is usually seen when you haven’t replaced your brake rotors in a long time. 

You can typically expect a lip on your brake rotors when it is nearing their wearing-out time or has already reached the limit of 1mm. 


Construction and Working of Brake Discs 

To best understand the brake discs and determine what harm lipped discs pose to your vehicle, let us give you an overview of the construction and working of the brake discs of a vehicle. As far as modern-day vehicles are concerned, their entire brake system is generally based on or relies on the brake discs. 

It’s because these vehicles put force on the discs connected to the wheels of a vehicle to slow them down, eventually stopping them. There are two major brakes: drum brakes and disc brakes, and depending on the efficiency and power-saving capabilities, nothing can beat the disc brakes. 

Components of Brake Disc System

Here are the main components that make up the brake discs of a vehicle: 

  • Rotor

The first part making up a brake disc system is the rotor or the brake discs, which, as the name suggests, is a circular disc attached to the wheel hub. This circular disc, like steel or cast iron, part of the brake system spins along with the wheel. 

  • Piston 

The piston isn’t a unique term; you must be familiar with it if you have been reading about cars and other vehicles for some time. It is a cylindrical component attached to the hydraulics of the brake disc system. Another component of the brake system, i.e., the brake pad, which we will talk about next, moves into the router by the piston once the brake pedal is pressed. 

As for pistons, some vehicles feature a single piston that moves both brake pads, while others feature two for each side of the discs. You can also find four, six, or in some cases, eight pistons on some high-end vehicles. 

  • Brake Pads 

Brake pads are part of the brake disc system that plays a crucial part in slowing down or stopping a car. Once the brake pedal is pressed, the rotor gets pushed by these pads, creating friction that eventually stops the car. 

These pads are made up of two main components: a shoe, the metal part, and the lining bound to the shoe. As we are talking about wearing brake discs here, it’s worth mentioning that the lining is the main part of the brake system that actually wears and tears over time. The material used in lining significantly impacts the life of the brake discs or the entire brake system. 

  • Caliper 

The caliper is part of the disc brake system that is responsible for holding the pads and pistons together. It is filled with brake fluid and is present over the rotor. Calipers of a brake system come in two forms: fixed and floating. 

The floating caliper, as the name suggests, floats over the rotor. It features one piston, and once the brake pedal is pressed, the caliper moves over to the pads present on the non-piston side. Fixed ones, on the contrary, have two pistons, one on either side, that move once the brake pedal is pressed. 

Note: Some brake systems also feature sensors within the brake pads that keep the driver informed of the condition of these pads. 


How Do Brake Discs Work? 

Now that you have gone through all the components of a brake disc system and have understood the role played by brake discs in the working of this system, it’s time to move towards the next crucial part, i.e., how do brake discs work? 

When the brake pedals are pressed, the servo system, known as the brake booster, amplifies the power. This power is converted into hydraulic or oil pressure by the master cylinder. Passing through the tubing containing brake fluid/oil, the pressure reached the brakes attached to the vehicle’s wheels. 

This pressure then works in pushing the pistons present on the brakes of each wheel. The piston consequently puts pressure on the brake pads, producing friction. As these pads are attached to the rotors from both sides, they decrease the wheels’ speed, slowing them down and finally stopping the vehicle. 


When Is the Right Time to Replace Brake Discs? 

Like other components making up the brake disc system, the brake discs also have a confined lifespan. Though it increases or decreases depending on how you apply the brakes and the things you do to maintain them, there are still a few things that indicate when it is time to replace the brake discs of your vehicles and get new ones. 

We have listed down some of the symptoms indicating that your brake discs need replacement, so you know when to get rid of them. 

  • Noise When Braking 

The first thing that’s a clear indication that it’s finally time to replace the brake discs is a grinding noise you might hear while applying the brakes. In cars, you will normally notice a slight jolt or negligible noise whenever you press the brake pedal. 

However, when the brake discs wear out, this produces friction between different components of the brake disc system, eventually producing strong grinding noise. Though there can be other reasons for this noise too, in most cases, it is a queue for you to get new brake discs. 

  • Vehilce’s Shaking When Applying Brakes 

As mentioned above, a slight jolt is fine while applying brakes, and generally, this jolt can be pretty noticeable if you are a beginner and haven’t gotten used to the brake pedal yet. However, if your car shakes badly in a pulsating motion every time you apply the brakes, it strongly indicates that the brake discs have reached their maximum lifespan. 

  • Ridges on the Rotor’s Surface 

Another sign for you to replace the brake discs is ridges or grooves on their surface. This is exactly what we mentioned earlier, i.e., the lipped brake discs. Whenever you notice that the surface of the rotor isn’t even and is slightly raised from one side to the other, it is a clear denotation of the fact that now is the time to get new brake discs. 

  • Rusting of the Rotors 

The rusted rotor surface is another visible and clear-cut sign that your brake discs are worn out now and won’t serve the purpose they were meant for in the first place. Though a slight rusting is fine if the major part of the rotor’s surface is covered by rust, you are left with no option but to replace the discs. 

  • Low Brake Performance 

The last but most crucial symptom of the need to replace the brake discs is a decrease in brake performance. Now that you have looked at the composition and working of the entire brake disc braking system and have understood how important the role played by brake discs is, whenever you feel that the brake system’s performance is suffering, it’s time for you to replace the discs. 


Factors Affecting the LifeSpan of Brake Discs 

Though it is highly crucial to replace the brake discs of your car’s braking system whenever any of the above symptoms show up, a few factors directly affect the brake discs’ lifespan. 

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of replacing the brake discs frequently, keep reading to know what affects their lifespan. 

  • Applying Brakes 

It is understood that the harder you are on the brakes, the sooner they will wear out. This will eventually affect the performance of brake discs, and in no time, you might have to replace them. So, if while applying brakes, you are not light on the brakes and are too aggressive, putting much strain on them, this will lead to a consequent decrease in their lifespan. 

  • Driving Route 

Another thing that directly impacts the brake discs’ life expectancy is your usual driving route. If you are an experienced driver, you must know that driving on an even and rocky path is a lot more complex than driving on a smooth surface. This also means that while driving on a rough path, you have to apply greater force, putting increased pressure on the brake discs and decreasing their lifespan. 

  • Load 

The average load your vehicle needs to move around regularly also impacts the life of the brake discs. This isn’t hard to understand as when the car is loaded up, you need to apply more force, exerting high pressure on the brake discs, for applying brakes. Due to the increased pressure on brake discs regularly, they will wear out sooner than expected. 

  • Driving Time 

If you drive too often, the life of all the car’s components, including the brake discs, will reduce. When the car’s components operate frequently, they will take less time to wear out than vehicles with low driving frequency. 

  • Driving Style 

It’s not much different from the braking technique we talked about earlier. However, in style, everything related to the operation of a vehicle comes. For instance, if you are hard on different parts of your car, including the brake pedal, steering wheel, etc., these components will take relatively less time to wear out. 

  • Caliper Health 

Another crucial factor that dramatically impacts the lifespan of the brake discs is the caliper’s health. As mentioned above, the caliper holds different braking system parts together. So, when it’s not working properly, the pressure exerted on the rotors from both sides will be even, leading to overheating and thus decreasing the average life expectancy of your brake discs. 

  • Car Storage 

Though a higher driving frequency of the car is responsible for earlier wear out of the brake discs, the case where a car is stored for an extensive amount of time is no different. If you last used your car a long time ago, this will cause the rusting of rotors. This consequently reduces the friction between the pad and the rotor, decreasing the lifespan of discs due to increased pressure. 

  • Rim & Wheel Type 

The rim and wheel type design are other factors affecting brake discs’ lifespan. For instance, if the rim design of your car is open, it will provide lesser protection to the rotor, leading to an increase in salt and water getting to the rotors that eventually lead to higher corrosion chances. 

  • Low Maintenance 

Another thing that stands true for all car components, including brake discs, is their maintenance. You must pay heed to their care and maintenance if you want various car components to have a higher life span. For this, ensure proper cleaning and lubricating of the discs at least once a year. 


Read More

  1. [Solved] Brake Vibration at High Speeds
  2. Do You Have to Bleed Brakes After Changing Pads?
  3. What Causes Grooves in Brake Rotors? [Causes & Effects] 


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