Drilled & Slotted Rotors Vs Regular Rotors

Created by Jay Walling / 7 min read
Date Created: 1/13/2023
Last Updated: 1/13/2023

Brake rotors are offered in many different styles nowadays. Within this article, we will cover all of the differences and break these down for you!

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  • Brake Rotor Differences

Brake rotors or brake discs are available in many different types and configurations. They all serve a specific need in the performance and aftermarket world. While drilled, slotted, and 2-piece brake rotors were only available to high-end race cars and aftermarket performance brake companies, you are now starting to see these show up on factory performance vehicles. This is because the braking performance increases using performance brake pads and brake rotors.

We will look at some of the most popular brake rotors below and help you select the best upgrades for your braking system. Most factory brake rotors are smooth-style brake rotors. Most aftermarket and factory performance vehicles use drilled, slotted, or drilled/slotted rotors. We will look at the features and benefits of each type of rotor below.

Brake Rotor Differences - Brake Rotor Differences

Smooth Rotors

Smooth or plain rotors are most commonly found on OEM factory vehicles. They are often vented for improved cooling and give your brake pads a flat smooth surface to compress against. Often, most companies refer to these as OE or stock replacement rotors. You will still find these smooth-style rotors on high-end performance vehicles - especially in larger diameters with internal venting to help keep your brakes cool under the most extreme braking conditions. Smooth or solid rotors can still be a great high-performance brake option for your ride when paired with a set of performance brake pads, stainless steel brake hoses, and performance brake fluids.

Brake Rotor Differences - Brake Rotor Differences

Drilled Rotors

Drilled rotors feature holes drilled throughout the brake rotor's face. These drilled holes allow for improved cooling on the surface area of the brake rotors. You can improve your braking performance under hard braking conditions by allowing your rotor surface area to cool more easily. This cooling of the rotors is known as heat dissipation.

Drilled rotors are also great for wet weather or wet conditions on the race track. The drilled holes can give water and brake dust a place to escape and improve the overall clamping ability of your brake caliper and pads.

Features & Benefits:
  • Improved heat dissipation
  • Reduced brake fade
  • It provides a sporty look to any vehicle

Brake Rotor Differences - Brake Rotor Differences

Slotted Rotors

Slotted brake rotors feature a “slot” added to the rotor's surface area through a precession machining process. These slots help clean the contact area on the face of the rotor by removing brake dust and build-up. This can lead to smoother braking and improved stopping power. Under more performance driving conditions, these slots can catch and clear out the excessive brake dust that builds under heavy braking.

Features & Benefits:
  • Smoother braking
  • Improved braking power
  • It provides a sporty look to any vehicle
  • Improved resistance to warping and glazing with the added heat dissipation properties.

Brake Rotor Differences - Brake Rotor Differences

Drilled And Slotted Rotors

Drilled and slotted rotors combine the features and benefits of both previously mentioned brake rotors above to provide you with the best performance rotors. These rotors are drilled for improved heat dissipation and cooling. They are also slotted to help reduce brake fade by keeping your braking surface area clean and clear. Combining these rotors with a set of performance Brembo brake calipers, performance brake pads, stainless steel brake lines, and performance brake fluids will give you the ultimate performance brake setup you have been looking to purchase.

Features & Benefits:
  • Improved cooling and heat dissipation
  • Smoother braking
  • The ultimate performance brake rotor upgrade
  • Improved resistance to warping and glazing with the added heat dissipation properties.
  • It gives a high-end performance vehicle look

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Drilled & Slotted Rotors Wear Faster?

Usually, the answer to this topic is yes. Since vehicles using these drilled and slotted rotors tend to have more of a performance aspect, the life expectancies can be shortened. This can all depend on driving style, the weight of the vehicle, and the pad type being used. For example, a strict track-use car with a ceramic race pad may see more service intervals than a bone-stock street car with a semi-metallic pad.

Are Drilled & Slotted Rotors Better Than Smooth Rotors?

Yes, drilled and slotted rotors provide plenty of benefits over smooth blank rotors; however, there is a lot of debate surrounding this topic. Each of these applications has its own unique area they thrive in compared to the others. Cost, performance aspects, and overall aesthetics are all things people consider when using a solid or upgraded rotor design for their ride.

Can You Resurface Slotted/Drilled Rotors?

A professional lathe can resurface slotted or drilled rotors like a stock set. As with a standard rotor, the minimum thickness must be considered when turning these. If you are at or below this manufacturer's specification, you will need to replace the rotor used.

Which Style of Rotors Are Best for Racing or Track Use?

This can vary from application to application. Different rotors can be used depending on the vehicle's weight and intended purpose. Slotted or Drilled/Slotted rotors are normally used in most cases due to the added benefits of cooling properties and gas dissipation under extreme braking conditions. Stock rotors can still be used in many cases, but testing can be performed to determine if heat and stopping power are adequate for your particular setup.

Are There Special Pads required for Slotted or Drilled Rotors?

The same pads used for an OEM-style rotor can also be used on drilled or slotted applications. These do not require any custom pad to be used; however, there are different brake pad materials on the market for street, track, and race use only. This is where your particular setup can require specific pad choices.

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About the Author

Jay has written content for Late Model Restoration for over 10 years, producing over 120 articles. Jay has an extensive 25-plus-year background in automotive and is a certified Ford Technician. Read more...