new brake pads

How To Break In New Brake Pads And Rotors

You can save hundreds of dollars by replacing your brake pads and rotors at home. Replacing these parts is a straightforward process. Yet, there’s an important step many people forget: breaking in their new brake pads and rotors.

Why It’s Important To Break In New Brake Pads And Rotors

New brake pads

The break-in procedure is important if you want your new brakes to perform well. This procedure is also called bedding your brakes. It’s when the brake pads deposit an even layer of friction material on the rotors. This ensures:

  • Optimal performance right out of the gate
  • 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. It’ll stop much 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

Depress brake pedal

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.