Who remembers those “Running in. Please pass” rear windscreen stickers? Nowadays new cars hardly need special treatment, but new brake pads do – for as much as 200 miles.
Breaking-in new brake pads helps to improve braking performance. You can help while the vehicle is still in the workshop. But your customer will still need to take some responsibility for ensuring their brakes perform as they should.
1. Bedding-in. Please stop. A perfect mating area between the pad and the disc surface doesn’t just happen when you fit new pads. It takes time and some specific actions. You can get the bedding-in process (otherwise known as “burnishing”) underway, before the customer collects their car. All you have to do is make about 20 complete stops in the car – from 30-0mph – or about the same number of slow-downs from 50-20mph. This will start the bedding-in, for your customer to continue when you hand back the keys. This practice is particularly recommended when you have new coated brake discs.
2. Play it cool. If brake pads overheat when new, it can permanently change the underlying structure of the materials they’re made from – and not for the better. Until the brakes are fully bedded, drivers should avoid the heavy braking that leads to overheating: whether it’s because they’re braking from high speed, towing heavy loads, or driving on steep terrain.
3. Brake, brake, brake. Though gentle braking is better than heavy braking, more braking is better than less. For up to the first 200 miles, every time the brake pads make contact with the discs, it increases the contact surface area between the two, which leads to better braking in the long-term. So you should remind your customers to brake lightly, but brake often, for the first 200 miles after new pads have been fitted.