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The Volvo Parts, Accessories &
Performance Specialists Since 1963

Why do I need to measure my brake rotors or check the style of my brake pads?

Created on 2011-01-28 by Kevin Rutledge, Last Updated on 2021-06-23

We've never figured out why Volvo doesn't have an obvious 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 options and some models have multiple brake 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.

On later 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 even the dealership that originally sold the car could have installed a different set to make the car more attractive.  A previous owner may even have upgraded the brakes from a smaller diameter to a bigger diameter.

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.

Some models use the same brake pads for all size brake rotors, but other models use different pads depending on the size of the rotor.

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

If you use a licensed version of Volvo's VIDA system, you can enter a car's VIN and it will do a live look up against Volvo's database to provide you with the buildsheet data from the factory.  This information has the size of the wheels that were installed at the factory. Since Volvo specs brake rotors based on factory wheel size this leads you to the correct brake rotor.  Some later models also require a model variant code to determine the correct parts (this is in the factory buildsheet data.)

Ultimately, it comes down to this:  

If you can't enter your VIN in to 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.

These products are linked to this Technical Article

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