Breaking in the Brakes



I’m about to do new pads & rotors on my '97 Escort wagon. I’ve never really been able to get any clear and consistent word on whether or not break in procedures are necessary or what a proper procedure is.

The brake pads I just bought are NAPA ceramics listed by NAPA as OEM equivalent for the car. They are the middle grade, not economy.

I bought the “ultra-premium” rotors for $40 per rather than the $20 “premium” b/c I don’t trust the lower grade rotors any more.

Neither the pads nor the rotors say anything at all about break in.

So what is your preferred method? Do you break in brakes? How (and why)?


I don’t do anything special when I install new brakes. I think once you’ve used the brakes a few times they are “broken in.”


Look in your owner’s manual for what is done with a new car.

Ours says to avoid hard stops for 200 miles.


With the hundreds of cars I have installed both new pads,rotors, turned rotors, shoes, I have never had a dedicated 'break-in" procedure. I did not have brake job come backs and most of the time I had forgotten I had put brakes on before I got out of the parking lot.

That being said, when a disc brake job (had to be somebodys elses work) displayed squealing I found that in perhaps 10% of the cases some repeated high speed high force stops made the brakes quieter.

There is also a school of thought that ‘bedding in the brakes’ can prevent brake pedal pulsation from happening initaly and also relieve it after it has appeared. My experience does not support this school of thought, but to each his own.


I couldn’t find any NAPA ceramic pad break-in procedures, but here is the procedure for Hawk brand ceramic pads:


General advice is to avoid hard stops (if possible) for about the 1st hundred miles. This might be to break in the brakes. Or, it be the pads and rotors need to seat before you get max braking power, and a hard stop might take longer stopping distances.

Use brake cleaner to clean the manufacturing and anti-rust oil off the new rotors before installing them on the car.


Never been told to do anything special whenever I have had a pad/rotor replacement. Just drove away as one would normally do.


This is a break in procedure suggested by Tom and Ray. Personally, I just drive the car normally after a brake job, but avoid slamming on the brakes.

Ed B.


You need to do no special breakin with ceramic pads, however be sure you get the brake cleaning spray and clean the discs well when you install them.


What Tom & Ray described is how I break in new brake components.



Thanks all for the input. The mix is something like what I’ve seen before with a lot saying they’ve had no trouble without any special break in, but maybe to drive conservatively for a while. (That’s what I’ve done in the past).

I found Tom & Ray’s article odd since it really only pins it on bedding new pads to old rotors. I’ve seen other stuff on brake parts sites (like that posted by karl sieger) about how bedding transfers a layer of pad material to the rotor and makes both work better and wear better. I really don’t know about that either, though.

Oddly enough I’ve also come across what moutainbike said - that ceramics don’t need break in. But then the Hawk break procedure posted above is for their ceramics, so I get confused every time I turn around.

Anyway, I didn’t see anyone say it could cause any harm. And I do live on a rural road that would allow me to engage in this strange and erratic driving behavior reasonably safely. It might not help but I have no reason to think it would hurt either, so I figure why not. I’ll probably just follow those guidelines from Hawk (The specific procedures I’ve found online vary as well).

And I will be cleaning the protective oil coating off of the new rotors - thanks to those who reminded me.


Here is an article that I came across in my wanderings in the event that anyone is interested:

I think it is mostly relevant if decide to race or if you drive as if you are pretending to race - which I don’t. But it explains that the key to “bed in” is to transfer an even layer of pad to the rotor, and that this requires getting the pad up to proper temperature. The problem is that the temperature varies by pad so there isn’t a one size fits all bed in procedure. It also notes that brake vibration normally comes from uneven pad material deposits.

I’m not really obsessing about it or anything - this is just one of the ways that I learn stuff.


Wow. And I thought MY explanations were overly wordy…