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The old guy breaking in his brakes

On today’s show (#929) a lady called who was bewildered by her elderly father “braking in” the new brakes on his Chevy Lumina. He did this by constantly changing his speed, from 65mph to 55 to 35 and back up again. He said he needed to do this for 500 miles, and that his mechanic told him to do it.

The guys told her that, of course, he didn’t need to do this. They went on to say that new pads did need to be “broken in”, as it were, but it only took a few minutes of driving, and the mechanic would normally do it himself.

I’m sure that’s true, but that’s not what her dad was thinking about. In fact, I’m amazed the guys didn’t catch it. What the old guy was describing was not the process for breaking in new brakes, but the process for breaking in new engine.

Probably fifty years ago Dad has the engine in his '39 Plymouth rebuilt, and the mechainc told him how to break in the engine to seat the rings properly. He described the process perfectly, but clearly he got it mixed up in his head what the procedure was for.

This reminds me of the caller who’s dad told her not to sit in the car listening to the radio with engine off because she would burn the points. He was correct, but only for cars built before 1974 or so. Her’s was not.

I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on old guys. God willing I’ll be one someday myself.


Of course brakes don’t need “breaking in” but I would try avoid panic stops until the there is a little wear on the pads and shoes and they are well seated.

You are likely right.