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Performance Specialists Since 1963
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Why Do I Need To Measure My Brake Rotors Or Check The Style Of My Brake Pads?

2011-01-28 - Kevin Rutledge

We've never figured out why Volvo doesn't have a simple way to determine which brakes are equipped on a car, but this has been an issue since the early 1970's.

Many Volvo models have multiple brake rotor diameter and pad options.  Most of the time, it is a choice of two sizes or styles, but in some cases, it can be as many as three or four.  Usually, Turbo or Sport models have bigger brake rotor diameters than non-turbo or base models, but from our experience, this is not a reliable indicator.

With some models, if you look in Volvo's VIDA (Vehicle Information & Diagnostics for Aftersales) Parts Catalog, you will get references to the wheel size to determine which rotors a car has equipped.  This seems simple enough but it is quite likely for a car not to have the factory installed wheels on it.  A previous owner could have changed them or the dealership that originally sold the car could have swapped with different car to make the car more attractive. 

Why can't you just install the biggest rotors on your car?  In some rare cases, this is possible, but usually the brake calipers or the brackets holding the calipers would also need to be changed.  This could involve replacement of a lot more parts than just the rotors. Bigger brake discs usually means bigger calipers (or different caliper mounting brackets) and bigger brake pads.

Unfortunately, Volvo does not include the brake equipment information anywhere on the car. The information IS NOT encoded in a digit of the VIN number either.

For cars built after about 1998, you can use a licensed version of Volvo's VIDA system to get a vehicle's build sheet details from the VIN.  This information either has the original factory wheel size OR the brake system variant code that was installed at the factory.  This information usually won't tell you exactly what the brake rotor diameter is but it will allow you to find the correct part numbers using the VIDA parts catalog.

If you can't get your VIN's buildsheet information from VIDA, you will need to physically check what is on your car in order to be absolutely sure which brake rotors or pads you need.