Treating New Rotors: Brake Bedding

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Staff member
Sep 12, 2023
North Ridgeville, OH
Vehicle Details
1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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With fresh rotors and pads, it's important to condition or "bed" the brakes to season the new parts to provide maximum braking effort and resistance to warping. If fresh rotors aren't properly seasoned, the virgin brakes can overheat and cause an uneven transfer of pad material to the surface of the rotor. This leads to pulsating under braking, uneven rotor heating and more severe warping (all exacerbated by unevenly and/or overtorqued lug nuts!).

You may notice that there's a bluish tint to used rotors - this is indicative that pad material has been glazed onto (embedded into the surface of) the rotor, and that the rotors are seasoned. This seasoning offers improved bite between the pads and rotor, and also strengthens the rotors through tempering.

One method to bedding in fresh brakes is to use the brakes lightly and avoid hard stops for the first 500 miles. However, there is a method that will quickly season the rotors through careful heating, braking and cooling. The key is to warm up the rotors gently at first, then apply heaving braking to season the rotors before letting them cool completely.

The process:

This process requires repetitive braking from higher speeds. Ensure you select an area where this can be done safely, away from traffic or hazards.

Step 1:
Make 3-4 gentle stops from 35 down to 5 MPH. This will slowly warm up the rotors and precondition them before we begin the glazing process.

Step 2:
From 50-60 MPH, make 3-4 stops down to 5 MPH in quick succession. Use more braking effort than before, but don't brake so hard as to lock up the wheels or trigger ABS! The goal here is to heat up the pads and rotors to an even greater degree, which will cause the glazing of the rotor (pad material transfer) to occur.

Step 3:
Keep driving for a couple miles while avoiding use of the brakes (or braking only lightly) to cool the rotors and pads. This is very important so as to avoid uneven transfer of hot pad material to the rotor.

Step 4:
Park the car and let the rotors and pads cool completely - at least 1 hour.
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