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What if I told you that what you normally heard about bedding in your brakes is a myth? Your brake system is the only thing that has the capability to stop your vehicle and they shouldn’t be treated as a joke.
If you don’t bed in brakes, you might experience warped discs, uneven brake pad wear or screeching noises every time you step on the brakes.
If you just installed a new set of brake discs/pads or both, you need to bed in the new brakes to avoid these issues from occurring in the future.
What does it mean to bed in brakes?
Anytime you installed a fresh new set of brake discs/pads, there is a period where you have to break in the new components.
Much like breaking in your new engine or new springs, bedding in your brakes means to break-in the brakes so that some material from the brake pad is deposited into the brake rotor – ensuring that your brakes perform as expected.
If bedding-in new brakes is not done, you will experience braking issues in the long run which is something that you want to avoid from happening because clearly, the only thing that has the potential to slow your car drastically is your brakes system.
Is bedding in brakes a myth?
I recently installed an oversized brake kit on my daily driver. I got to speak to my brake guy about the myths and the conceptions surrounding brakes and he happily debunked some of the myths that I heard and read from.
The first among many is that to bed in your new brakes, you have to brake as hard as you can every time you have to stop. This is false as this will damage the brake discs and brake pads, rendering them less effective.
This method of bedding in will also generate a lot of heat on the discs which might crack the brake discs or even make the brakes ineffective.
The reason why some people believe and swear by this method is because of one single step that some irresponsible people skipped just to save some time.
You see, brake discs are often shipped, transported and stored with a layer of coating on the surface. This is a rust preventative method as brake discs are easily rusted even with a slight humidity introduced.
This layer of coating should be removed prior to installing the new discs on the car. Some foremen tend to skip the process just so that they could save time and instead risk the vehicle’s owner’s life to remove the coating via hard braking.
Not only is this irresponsible but it’s also highly risky as the driver could get involved in an accident due to unresponsive brakes.
So instead of worrying about bedding in brakes, here are the things you should actually pay attention on!
5 things to do when buying a new brakes
When buying a new set of brakes, regardless of whether OEM spec or upgraded brake kit, you should at least know these 5 things to keep in mind:
1. Check your brake fluid
Most cars use DOT 3 brake fluid in their brake system. Anytime you’re changing brakes, you should also check your brake fluid to see if it required changing.
This is a part of preventative maintenance as bad brake fluid could also affect your braking. To ensure this, brake fluids tend to have a clear color to it and they have a thick viscosity.
Bad brake fluid tends to be darker in color and have a thinner viscosity.
2. Ensure brake caliper guide pins are not rusty
The caliper guide pins should slide freely and if they don’t, it might cause uneven brake wear. Lubricate the guide pins using silicone based grease as the boot that prevents brake dusts from seizing the guide pins are often made of rubber.
Non silicone based grease might damage the rubber boots. This is also another method of preventative maintenance to ensure your braking system works effectively.
3. Ensure calipers and discs have enough clearance
This is one of the many things people often overlook. Some people would want to upgrade to bigger brake kits but never expected the clearance issues that might occur.
In my case, I already had aftermarket wheels fitted on my car and I have no clearance issues. I also test fitted my new wheels with my new oversized brakes and the tolerance is very tight.
If I were to fit a smaller set of wheels, they won’t fit with my new brake kit in place.
4. Consider upgrading depending on use
On most modern cars, the brakes are engineered to deal with everyday situations and eventualities. If you drive a modern car, in most cases the stock brakes are more than capable of handling everything in its lifetime.
However, if you have plans to upgrade the performance of your car or the stock brakes systems are left a lot to be desired, then you should consider upgrading it.
I’ve received feedback stating that slotted discs and 4 pot calipers are overkill for a car of my size unless I have plans to take it to a track. In normal daily use, my current setup is more than enough.
5. Consider slotted vs drilled discs
It’s often debatable whether you should get slotted or drilled discs as they both provide the same benefit but each comes with its own caveat. Do your research on which works best and so that you can extract the most out of your budget.
How to take care of your brake pads?
This might come off as obvious but the best way to take care of your brake pads is to brake gently and avoid stomping on the pedals.
I often hear from a lot of people who complain that their car eats through their brake pads very quickly until I find out how they generally drive.
- Gently brake your car. That way the pads are only creating sufficient friction on the discs just enough to slow the car down without triggering the ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System). A general rule of thumb for me when it comes to braking is, you shouldn’t be lunging forward too much when the car is decelerating under braking.
- Learn to perform engine brake. If you drive a manual car, learn how to utilize engine braking by downshifting to decelerate. You would be able to extend the life span of your pads and also prevent them from being worn out too quickly.
- Keep the brake discs surface clean. Contaminants such as small rocks, muds and road tars could cause uneven wear on both the discs and the pads. Regularly clean your wheels at least once a week to avoid the contaminants from building up in your brakes.
Your brakes are one of the only things that slows you down from accelerating and you should always keep them well maintained at all times to avoid risking your life and others on the road. Bedding in the brakes should be gentle instead of aggressive.
Make sure that when you get a new set of discs, the coating applied by the manufacturer should be removed before installing. Ensure that you invest in a quality set of brakes up to OEM standards to avoid any problems in the future.