How to break in brake pads

Brakes are one of the most important and most used things while driving a car. Whenever you are breaking your car, it creates a lot of heat and friction. As a result, the brake pads and rotors are always a risk of warping or wearing out. If that happens it becomes necessary to install new brake pads or rotors. But you can easily improve the performance and durability of the brake by going through the breaking in process.

But, once those brake pads and rotors are installed, they have to go through a process of break-in. Some people in the industry also call it bed-in to make it easier to understand. It doesn’t matter if the brake you are installing are regular brakes for everyday use or more advanced brakes for high-performance cars. This process of braking in the brake pads and brake rotors are essential in getting the best performance out of the brakes. 

In this discussion, we will be giving you a comprehensive step by step instruction on how to break in brake pads.

What is Bedding in or Breaking In?

The breaking in process requires rapid acceleration and then quick deceleration of brakes in a repeated fashion. 

When you are breaking in your brake pads, it transfers an even layer of brake pad material onto the brake rotors due to the gradually increased heat from the friction. This layer looks similar to a shiny, smooth glaze on the surface of the brake rotor. This process is called breaking in or bedding in.

Things to do before Breaking In

You will need to take some precautions before you begin the breaking in procedure. These things have to be done in order to complete the process safely and successfully.

Firstly, after buying a set of brake pads or rotors you have to check the manufacturer’s recommended break-in procedure. Different manufacturers recommend different break-in process, so it is really important that you should check it first.

Secondly, you will need a road with no traffic. This is to avoid any accidents that may happen while the breaking in process.

Thirdly, avoid any sort of erratic driving during the process. Ensure the safety of anyone that might be on the road.

Finally, it is always better to clean the brake pads and rotors. In case you are installing new pads, you should install new rotors if possible. If you want to use old rotors then you should remove any transfer film from the previous set of brake pads.

How to Break in Brake Pads

After you’ve installed the new brake pads, what comes next is to brake them in. To do this you need to follow the next three steps-

Step 1: 

The first thing you have to do is perform 30 gradual stops from 30 mph with about 30 seconds in between each stop.  Try to avoid stopping too quickly or coming to a complete stop. Stopping too quickly may result in heavy braking, what we want is medium braking.

An alternative to this process is to accelerate the car to 45 mph with moderate brake pressure and reduce the speed to bring it under 5 mph. Repeat this same process 3 to 4 times and then let it cool for a few minutes by driving for several minutes without stopping.

This process brings the brake pads to a desirable temperature, prevents sudden thermal shocks and overexertion of the brake pads. It also completes the initial breaking in. Now, the brake pads are ready for some aggressive slow-downs.

Step 2:

Now, perform 8 to 10 aggressive slow-downs from 60 mph to about 15mph. You need to keep in mind to not brake strong enough to activate your ABS, which will lock up the tires. The breaking in will end in failure if that happens.

Again, remember to avoid coming to a complete stop while the brakes are too hot. Doing this will transfer the pad material onto the surface unevenly.

Step 3:

After performing the final slow-down, don’t stop the vehicle immediately and drive at a low speed. During this process, use the brakes as little as possible until they can cool down. 

What to Expect After the Breaking In

You should see a light gray film and a slight blue tint on the brake rotor face after the break-in process. The gray film is material from the pads which has now been transferred onto the rotor. On the other hand, the blue tint is the proof that the rotor has reached the proper breaking in temperature.

Note:

Some brakes may require two cycles of the breaking in process. This may be the case for big brake kits, and new pads installed onto old brake rotors or new brake rotors with old pads.

Why is Breaking in so Important?

Now, let me tell you why the breaking in the process is so important. 

First of all, if you are installing new brake pads and rotors the braking in the process is necessary in order for them to work properly.

Secondly, the layer transferred from the brake pads to the brake rotors improves the performance of the brake. Moreover, by enhancing the friction generation of the brakes and rotors it also extends the lifespan of the brake as well.

Thirdly, breaking in your brakes properly will help to keep them quiet. The transfer layer on the rotor can minimize brake judder.

Finally, it prevents the warping of the rotors.

The Consequence of Improper Breaking In

In case your brake rotor has not been properly bedded in, you’re going to face some annoying and serious problems. They are the following-

  • Uneven transferred layers on the surface of the rotor causes it to judder while braking. 
  • The brake disc vibrates as it passes between the clamping pads, resulting in an annoying sound.
  • Uneven rotor wear. 
  • Warped rotor.

Conclusion

If you want to maximize the brake performance of your vehicle then the brake pads must go through the breaking in process. But, you must be very careful to not cause any accidents while doing it.

If you manage to do it properly then it will grant you an extra assurance of safety and reliability while on the road.

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