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Breaking in New Brake Pads and Rotors

Chinese New Year is over and the car workshops are back in operation.

If you noticed a squealing noise coming from your wheels, it is time to change your brake pads and it might be even your brake rotors that need replacing.

If you have changed your brakes and rotors before, you might have noticed that your braking performance was not good right after the change. It can be dangerous too if you do not manage the braking in process after the change due to increased braking distance from your brakes not performing at their optimal.

This article talks about the how to break in your new brake pads and rotors, a very important process that is often not talked about.

Break-in Procedure

For your new brakes to perform well, the break-in procedure is important. Another term for this is called "bedding your brakes." It’s when the brake pads deposit an even layer of friction material on the rotors to ensure:

  • Optimal performance

  • Proper brake operation (breaking in your brakes is a way to stress-test them)

  • That you get a feel of how your new brakes operate

  • Smoother and quieter braking

When you press your new brake pads against a brand new bare rotor, it likely won’t stop the vehicle that well. This can be dangerous if you are not aware and do not take the increased braking distance into consideration. Your car will stop faster and smoother if there’s a “glaze” of brake pad material already on the rotor. That’s what the break-in procedure is for. It lays down a good “foundation” of the pad material on the rotor. This ensures optimal braking performance.

Not All Brake Pads And Rotors Need Bedding

Breaking in your brake pads and rotors isn’t necessary, but it’s helpful in ensuring optimal braking performance. You can gradually break in your brakes with regular driving. Bedding your brakes right after installing them is the safer way to do it, though. It gives you the peace of mind that you installed your brakes the right way. It also assures you that your brakes will perform well. It’s recommended if you drive on highways and/or engage in heavy braking often.

How To Break In Your New Brake Pads And Rotors

The break-in procedure is a high temperature, high-friction process. The goal is to deposit an even layer of brake pad material on the rotor. It’s important to do this the right way. You want to gradually increase the brake system’s temperatures.

After you install your new pads and rotors, take the following steps to break them in:

1. Take your vehicle to a remote area and then park it somewhere safe.

2. Pump your brakes to ensure that your pedal is firm.

3. Drive your vehicle around cautiously to see if your newly installed brakes are working right.

  • Make sure that the brake performance is smooth. Look out for any issues like vibrations, squealing noise, etc.

4. Take your vehicle out for a long drive (while remaining in the remote area). Every 1/2 mile or so, hit the brakes for about 3 seconds. Repeat about 30 more times. Be sure to use light or medium deceleration, and use different starting speeds.

  • You may experience some increased pedal travel and pedal effort at first. This is normal. These issues will go away after your brakes are cooled.

5. Drive your vehicle for several miles without braking (unless you absolutely have to, of course). This will cool the brake system.

After you complete the process, your brake system should be bedded and ready to use.


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