The Bedding in (‘breaking in’) procedure for brake pads.
Components involved in a vehicle braking system
The daily vehicles you see on the road or even on the racetrack have generally the same braking mechanics. Each wheel consists of a brake disk, brake caliper and a pair of brake pads.
Remember, at TMS Motorsport, we can supply a whole range of makes of racing brake pads.
But how does it work?
When the driver presses the brake, it causes a hydraulic solution in the caliper to push the inner and outer brake pads onto the brake disc. As a result, the vehicle will begin to slow down due to the friction created by the pads meeting the disc brake.
When the driver releases the brake the opposite occurs, the brake pads are released so that they are no longer in contact with the disc allowing the vehicle to start moving freely.
Why brakes are important
For daily use, it might be quite obvious, but brakes are one of the most important features of any vehicle. Having efficient, fully working brakes can prevent accidents not to mention, it can even save lives.
In the motorsport world, having a good set of brakes can save seconds on lap times and even give you a competitive edge over other cars. Even if another car is capable of reaching, for example, a ‘higher top speed than yours’, by having high-end brakes, it means that you can keep your foot on the gas that much longer and leave braking for corners at the very last second. Your car can have all the power in the world but if the driver or the vehicle can’t sustain it, it is of no use. An upgraded set of brakes is arguably the most effective upgrade you can give to a vehicle especially when you compare the difference it can make in lap times.
The different types of brake pads and their properties
There is no set rule for how long brake pads last, it all depends on how you drive, how often you drive, and the brake pads you buy.
Generally, organic brake pads are the cheapest so its needless to say they don’t last as long as the other pads in this list.
Second, on this list is low- metallic brake pads which have a mix of organic materials such as steel and copper. These brakes are noisier than organic brakes however, they have a much-improved ability to withstand heat, caused by the friction of rubbing against the disc brake.
The third is Semi-metallic brakes, the most commonly used type of brake pad. Once again it is an improvement from low- metallic brakes as it has a higher mix of copper and steel meaning that it can sustain further heat transfer.
Finally, there are Ceramic brakes, these brakes are superior over the others, and as a result, the majority of race cars use them. As stated in the name, they are made mostly of ceramic fibers. They produce less noise and last longer than the other type of brake pad, but this all comes at a high cost, the price.
What is Bedding in brakes (‘breaking in brakes’) and why is it important?
As we have established brakes are a key component in the performance and safety for both daily and track vehicles. Unfortunately installing brake pads is not just a ‘plug and play’ procedure, you have to break them in.
The process of bedding in your pads is to create a gradual increase in heat between the brake pads and the brake disc. In turn, this will cause the brakes to lay down a fine layer of film onto the surface of the disc. Why?... Because by having this thin layer of film, it prevents the brakes from juddering when trying to slow the vehicle down or even slipping which is the last thing you want both when in traffic or when you're approaching a corner at 100mph. Think of the bedding in process, as the brakes rubbing against the disc filing down any obscurities and filling all the minuscule gaps, creating a flatter surface and as a result, there is better contact between the brake disc and the pads.
Note: When installing new pads, the brake discs should be either new or resurfaced so that there isn’t any film from the previous brake pads.
The discs should also be checked to ensure they are still within safe boundaries. If it been worn down by over 10mm it should be replaced.
So how do you bed the brakes?
As a general rule, most brake pad types will take up to 300-400 miles for the film to completely cover the brake disc and to create an even surface. Having said this, it is always important to see what the manufacturer recommends as they know the design and capabilities of their product best. Some manufacturers are very specific when it comes down to how they recommend their customers to break in their pads and others are quite vague, take Brembo and Akebono for example:
Brembo Gran Turismo- ‘In a safe area, apply brakes moderately from 60mph to 30mph and then drive approximately 1/2 mile to allow the brakes to cool. Repeat this procedure approximately 30 times.’
Akebono- ‘400 to 500 miles of moderate driving is recommended. The consumer should avoid heavy braking during this period.’
We hope that you found this article useful to you and that you now have a better general understanding of how brake pads work, the different types of brake pads, how to break them in and how it is one of the best upgrades you can do to any vehicle.
If you are considering upgrading your vehicles brake pads or discs, or if you are looking for performance parts in general, head over to our online shop and see what upgrades we can offer for your car or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.