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Why and How to Break New Brakes in Properly

  • Brakes-Safety-Tips/Guides
Foot pressing the brake pedal of a car.

Why Should New Brakes be Broken in?

Brakes need to be broken in to ensure optimal performance and to maximise their effectiveness and longevity. Here are the main reasons for breaking in brakes:

  1. Transfer of material – During the initial break-in process, a thin layer of brake pad material is gradually and evenly transferred onto the surface of the brake rotor. This layer, known as the brake pad "bedding," helps to improve the overall friction characteristics between the pads and rotors. It enhances the brake system's ability to generate consistent and controlled friction, resulting in better braking performance.
  2. Surface conditioning – The bedding process also helps to condition and prepare the surface of the rotors. It promotes the removal of any residual contaminants or irregularities on the rotor surface, such as machining residue or oxidation. By creating a smoother and more uniform contact surface, the brakes can operate more efficiently and with reduced noise and vibration.
  3. Heat distribution – The bedding process aids in the even distribution and dissipation of heat generated during braking. As the brake pads and rotors interact, the heat generated needs to be properly managed to prevent localized hotspots and potential rotor warping. The bedding process helps to establish an even heat distribution pattern, which contributes to the longevity and performance of the brakes.
  4. Brake noise reduction – Breaking in the brakes can also help reduce the likelihood of noise issues, such as squealing or squeaking sounds. The bedding process can minimize brake noise by promoting the proper mating and seating of the brake pad material onto the rotor surface. This reduces the chances of vibrations or harmonics that can cause noise.

It's important to note that different types of brake materials and designs may have specific bedding procedures recommended by the manufacturer. Therefore, it is always advisable to consult the brake manufacturer's instructions or your vehicle's owner's manual for the appropriate break-in procedure for your specific brakes. Following the recommended break-in process will ensure that your brakes perform optimally and have a longer lifespan.

Steps on How to Break in New Breaks

For optimal performance and longevity of your new brakes, use these steps as a guide:

  1. Initial inspection – Before installing new brakes, carefully inspect them for any defects or damage. Ensure that all components are in good condition, including the rotors, pads, callipers, and hardware.
  2. Bedding process – The bedding process involves gradually and evenly transferring a thin layer of brake pad material onto the surface of the rotor. This helps to improve braking efficiency and reduce the risk of noise or vibration. Follow these steps to properly bed in your new brakes:
    1. Find a safe and open stretch of road, such as a quiet street or empty parking lot, where you can perform the bedding process without any obstructions or hazards.
    2. Start with a series of moderate stops from a speed of about 48 km/h. Apply the brakes with moderate pressure, bringing the vehicle to a complete stop. Avoid excessive or harsh braking during this stage.
    3. After each stop, allow the brakes to cool down for a short period by driving without using the brakes. This will prevent overheating and warping of the rotors.
    4. Repeat the process of moderate stops and cool-down periods for a total of 8-10 cycles. This will help to evenly transfer the brake pad material onto the rotor surfaces.
  3. Avoid heavy braking – For the first few hundred kilometres (or as recommended by the brake manufacturer), it's advisable to avoid heavy or aggressive braking whenever possible. This allows the new brakes to fully settle and achieve optimal performance.
  4. Be mindful of brake fade – During the bedding process and the initial break-in period, pay attention to any signs of brake fade. Brake fade occurs when the brakes lose effectiveness due to excessive heat buildup. If you notice a significant decrease in braking performance or a spongy pedal feel, allow the brakes to cool down before continuing.
  5. Regular maintenance – After the break-in period, it's important to maintain your brakes properly. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for inspection, cleaning, and pad/rotor replacement intervals. Regularly check for any signs of abnormal wear, noise, or vibration, and address them promptly

Remember, these guidelines are general recommendations, and it's always a good idea to consult the specific instructions provided by the brake manufacturer or refer to your vehicle's owner's manual for any additional guidance or precautions.

Brought to you by Supa Quick, where we only stock quality vehicle parts, like Ate Performance Braking. ATE brakes come with a warranty against any manufacturing defect for the life of the product. To have your brake pads checked or replaced, visit your nearest Supa Quick fitment centre.

Also read:

The Importance of Brakes in Stopping Distance

Know Your Disc Brake Pads

How to Check a Car's Brake Fluid

What's that noise coming from your brakes?

Check Brake Pads Without Removing the Wheels 

Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information.

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