A lot of high-performance brake rotors are drilled, like these rotors, on the Audi R8.

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Drilled Brake Rotors

There are two major types of high-performance brake rotors -- drilled and slotted. We'll discuss the drilled rotors here and move on to the slotted rotors on the next page. Drilled brake rotors, as the name implies, have holes drilled in them. Having a holes drilled into any of your brake parts may seem counterintuitive, especially the brake rotors -- after all, a rotor full of holes means that there's less surface area for the brake pads to grab and stop the car -- but there are a few reasons drilled rotors make sense. 

The first is heat. When the brake pad grabs the rotor, it creates friction, which creates heat. If that heat can't escape, it leads to brake fade, which reduces the brakes' stopping power. The second reason is gas build up. This actually isn't much of a problem any more; however, the materials used in some older types of brake pads caused gas to build up between the rotors and pads. That gas also limited stopping power. The last reason is water. If a car drives through a puddle, a carwash or even a rainstorm, the brake rotors can get wet. A wet brake rotor is slippery and difficult for the brake pads to grab. Having drilled holes on a brake rotor makes it easy for heat, gas and water to be quickly moved away from the rotor surface, keeping the brake performance strong. 

The downside of using drilled rotors on your vehicle is that all of those holes tend to weaken the rotors -- just like punching holes in the wall of a house would weaken the wall. After repeated stressful driving, the rotors can even crack. 

But what if you're into driving performance? Are drilled rotors right for you, or should you consider another kind of brake part for your spirited driving? Keep reading to find out.