So, your vehicle has just been outfitted with a new set of brake pads and rotors. The old ones were starting to make an annoying sound and there was a noticeable decrease in your overall stopping power. But now that your new disc brakes have been installed, it’s up to you to break them in properly.
In industry jargon, this is known as ‘bedding in’ your brakes. It’s an important process because it will help ensure your vehicle enjoys:
- Maximum braking performance
- Minimum vibrations and squealing
- Long-lasting performance
The Basics of Disc Braking
Whenever you step on the brakes in your vehicle, the pressure is transferred through your brake lines—which contain brake fluid—to your brakes. Most passenger vehicles these days tend to have a braking configuration comprised of front discs and rear drums. This is perfectly adequate for everyday driving needs, although some high-end performance vehicles will have disc brakes on all four wheels for extra stopping power.
For disc brakes, a caliper squeezes a pair of brake pads, one on either side of your rotor, which creates the friction required to stop your vehicle. A byproduct of this friction is heat, which is an important element of the bed-in process.
To learn more about brakes, read: All About Your Brakes!
The Bed-in Process Explained
Bedding in your new brake pads and rotors (it’s also possible to resurface an existing rotor) involves the use of heat to transfer a fine layer of brake pad residue onto the rotor surface. This should be done gradually to:
- Ensure a smooth, even coating
- Prevent scarring on the pads and rotors
- Remove impurities from the brake pad surface
Most brake pad manufacturers have slightly different guidelines for the initial bed-in-process. It usually involves a series of three or four medium stops from about 55 km/h to warm up the pads. This is followed by three or four harder semi-stops from about 70 km/h (down to about 10 km/h).
Your brake pads will become quite hot during the second phase, so it’s important not to let the pads remain in contact with the rotors between stops. This could result in an uneven transfer of pad material. Also, once your stop-and-go session is complete, it’s a good idea to let your brakes cool down completely.
Driver Safety While Bedding in Brakes
Ideally, you’ll want to find a quiet stretch of road where you can bed in your brakes. Throughout this process, it’s important to use common sense and to drive for road conditions. If you need to stop for safety reasons—such as avoiding an animal on the road—then stop.
Does your vehicle make a grinding or squealing sound when you brake? If so, visit your local Kal Tire store for a free True Service Inspection.