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2005-2014 Mustang Brake Rotor Information

Written By: Glenn Cope II

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Does your car vibrate when braking down a hill? Is there a grinding noise coming from your front end? Uneven braking and brake performance got you down? Quality Mustang brake rotors are vital to your brake system and the safety of your vehicle. not to mention, they look great, too.

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When it comes to braking and stopping power, both daily driven Mustangs and track-built performance Mustangs will benefit from aftermarket brake rotors. We'll go over why this is the case and present various options for 2005-2014 Mustangs.

American Muscle

Understanding Your 2005-2014 Mustang's Brake Rotors

Both GT and V6 S197 Mustangs have stopping abilities that far exceed previous generations of Mustangs, but they still leave much to be desired when it comes to stopping power and limiting brake fade. Note: the 11.5 inch front rotors typically require a 17 inch or larger wheel. However, if you upgrade to 14 inch rotors you'll need at minimum an 18 inch wheel. Just something you should keep in mind when you’re thinking of switching out for bigger and better rotors.

Standard early model S-197 Mustangs normally come equipped with 11.5 inch front brake rotors which are small when compared to the larger 13.2 inch diameter of 2012 Mustangs. The 11.5 inch front rotors typically require a 17 inch or larger wheel. However, if you upgrade to 14 inch rotors, they will require at minimum an 18 inch wheel.

MMD Mustang with Brembo Brakes

The Purpose of a Mustang's Brake Rotors

When braking, your car’s weight is transferred to the front, requiring the front brakes to do most of the work. Larger caliper pistons and multiple pistons will provide more clamping pressure on the pad and rotor. This increases stopping distance and overall braking performance. This, of course, is only as good as the tires and suspension you have and their ability to transfer brake torque to the road effectively. Your upgraded brakes may be able to stop you in a shorter distance, but if your tires cannot handle the stopping power then it’s a moot effort.

Boss Mustang at the Track

Brake Rotors: What They Are & What They Do

  • Upgraded brake rotors increase stopping distance and overall braking performance
  • Brake rotors are essentially the radiators of your brake system, keeping your pads hot enough to slow you down, but cool enough to control wear
  • In addition to improved braking performance, aftermarket brake rotors can improve cooling and increase resistance to cracking from thermal stress
Brake Rotor Close Up of the Vanes
Rotor Vane Cooling Vents

Why Choose Drilled Rotors Over Stock Mustang Rotors?

A cross drilled rotor has a similar benefit, but is more susceptible to cracking under severe stress. For street and occasional light duty track use, they will hold up fine. One good benefit when it comes to street driving is both cross drilled and slotted rotors break up the water film formed when driving in wet conditions. This effect is most evident with cross drilled rotors, due to water flowing through the holes. It should also be noted, most aftermarket brake rotors are zinc plated. This improves corrosion resistance and also gives the rotor a nicer look because of its oxidation resistance.

Stock Brake Rotor Versus a Drilled and Slotted Rotor

Advantages to Aftermarket Mustang Brake Rotors

Aftermarket brake rotors could also feature improved vane venting technology, which improves cooling and increases resistance to cracking from thermal stress. What most people are familiar with are the slots and or cross drilled holes. These holes or slots in the braking surface help dissipate heat and eliminate brake dust and gases.

Stock Versus Aftermarket Drilled and Slotted Rotor
Stock vs. Aftermarket Drilled and Slotted Rotor

Why Choose Slotted Rotors For my Mustang?

Slots in rotor faces are partly a carry-over from the days of asbestos pads. Asbestos pads were prone to surface glazing and the slots tended to help scrape and de-glaze them. Similarly, cross drilling the rotor helped by providing a way to expel the gasses created when certain bonding agents employed to manufacture the brake pads began to break down at very high temperatures. This condition was referred to as out-gassing. When it did occur, the driver could still feel a firm brake pedal, but a large reduction in pad friction. This normally only happened at temperatures experienced in racing. However, with modern race pad technology, out-gassing is no longer an issue with pads designed for racing. With that said, slotted rotors are still advantageous to dissipating heat and is a must-have for anyone who plans on navigating road courses.

At the end of the day when it comes to buying aftermarket rotors that are cross drilled, slotted or both for your Mustang, just know it is for an aesthetic value, as well as heat and a slight weight reduction. If your Mustang is going to see a race track then slotted is the preferred choice. With certain pad compounds slotting can help wipe away debris from between the pad and rotor in turn increasing the quality of friction between the rotor and the pad.

Drilled and Slotted Rotor Close Up

Dimpled Rotors

Another option you will see is dimpled rotors. This has the same effect as cross drilling but not the weakness of drilling. Like other aftermarket Mustang rotors, dimpled rotors offer better cooling and out-gassing than stock. Since the dimples are small indentations in the face of the rotor and not holes that go all the way through, they offer better structural integrity than drilled rotors.

Drilled Mustang Rotor Pair

How to Break in New Rotors

When you buy a new set of rotors you will want to bed or burnish them in. You do this by making 8-10 60 MPH to 5 MPH stops. You will Start to smell your brakes wearing in--this is a good thing. This process puts a layer of brake pad material on the rotor. Now your friction power is maximized and you can enjoy your new rotors throughout regular driving and the more extreme conditions seen when auto crossing.