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Many of our members post up concerns about brakes or the cost of repair. This is a "MUST READ" post:

Service Advisors routinely tell owners that come in with brake noise or pulsing problems that their rotors are "warped". There are reasons why they do this nowadays (and I am speaking from experience as I once was the general manager of a dealership).

20 years ago, good techs knew that iron rotors rarely warped. What they did was pull the rotors off and put them on a lathe. Spinning the rotors quickly verified if they were warped or not.

Almost always, the surface of the rotors had built up pad material that was transferred onto the rotors under heat. This created ridges on the rotors and set up the pulsing feeling in the brake pedal when you braked. since the ridges also meant that less pad was pressing on the rotor, your stopping ability diminished.

The fix was simple.

The rotors, already on the lathe, were 'turned' , shaving off the deposited pad material. Rotors were put back on the car and pads, if they where worn down to under 20%, were replaced.

Today, service departments no longer do this.


Because the labour cost (time) to do this is too high. Labour costs have risen while parts costs have declined relative to inflation and the culprit is government payroll taxes.

The bottom line is this:

Take your car (the make and model doesn't matter) to almost any service deprtment or brake shop with any complaint or issue, and they will automatically replace pads and rotors - and you'll be out $6-800. If you question why they replaced rotors, the standard response is "they are warped". (most of the young lads telling you this don't even know that they are giving out false info - they were taught to say this and believe it to be true).

The best way to avoid these expensive brake jobs is to BED IN YOUR BRAKES!

Just follow the instructions for 'bedding in' your brakes. You can do it yourself and never get even a finger dirty.

How to Bed-in Your Brakes

by Dave Zeckhausen from:

Bedding allows your brakes to reach their full potential. Until they are bedded, your brakes simply do not work as well as they can. If you've installed a big brake kit, changed your pads and rotors, or even purchased a brand new car, you should set aside time to bed the brakes according to the instructions below. Proper bedding improves pedal feel, reduces or eliminates brake squeal, prevents (and often cures) brake judder, and extends the life of your pads and rotors. For more on the theory of bedding, please refer to this excellent article by StopTech: Removing the Mystery from Brake Pad Bed-In.

Caution: Immediately after installing new pads, rotors or a big brake kit, the first few applications of the brakes will result in very little braking power. Gently use the brakes a few times at low speed in order to build up some grip before blasting down the road at high speed. Otherwise, you may be in for a nasty surprise the first time you hit the brakes at 60 mph.

If you have just installed rotors with zinc or cadmium plating, or if the rotors have an anti-corrosion phosphate coating, you should postpone the bedding process until normal driving has allowed your brake pads to polish the rotors clean and removed all traces of the plating or coating. If your new brake rotors have an oily anti-corrosion coating, you should clean this off thoroughly with brake cleaning spray and/or hot soapy water.

Read and understand these bedding instructions completely before starting. If you have questions, give us a call or email. Do not substitute higher speeds for the 60mph called for in these instructions. The heat in your brakes goes up exponentially as you increase the speed from which you brake. If you make repeated stops from 80 or 90mph with street pads, you will overheat the brakes and may end up having to replace pads and/or rotors.

When following these instructions, avoid other vehicles. Bedding is often best done early in the morning, when traffic is light, since other drivers will have no idea what you are up to and may respond in a variety of ways ranging from fear to curiosity to aggression. A police officer will probably not understand when you try to explain why you were driving erratically! Zeckhausen Racing does not endorse speeding on public roads and takes no responsibility for any injuries or tickets you may receive while following these instructions. Use common sense!
From 60mph, gently apply the brakes a couple of times to bring them up to operating temperature. This prevents you from thermally shocking the rotors and pads in the next steps.

Make eight to ten near-stops from 60mph to about 10-15 mph. Do it HARD by pressing the brakes firmly, but do not lock the wheels or engage ABS. At the end of each slowdown, immediately accelerate back to 60mph and then apply the brakes again. DO NOT COME TO A COMPLETE STOP! If you stop completely and sit with your foot on the brake pedal, you will imprint pad material onto the hot rotors, which could lead to vibration and uneven braking.

The brakes may begin to fade after the 7th or 8th near-stop. This fade will stabilize, but not completely go away until the brakes have fully cooled. A strong smell from the brakes, and even some smoke, is normal.

After the last near-stop, accelerate back up to speed and cruise for a while, using the brakes as little as possible. The brakes need only a few minutes to cool down. Try not to become trapped in traffic or come to a complete stop while the brakes are still very hot.

If full race pads, such as Hawk DTC-70 or Performance Friction PFC01 are being used, add four near-stops from 80 to 10 mph.

After the break-in cycle, there should be a slight blue tint and a light gray film on the rotor face. The blue tint tells you the rotor has reached break-in temperature and the gray film is pad material starting to transfer onto the rotor face. This is what you are looking for. The best braking occurs when there is an even layer of of pad material deposited across the rotors. This minimizes squealing, increases braking torque, and maximizes pad and rotor life.

After the first break in cycle shown above, the brakes may still not be fully broken in. A second bed-in cycle, AFTER the brakes have cooled down fully from the first cycle, may be necessary before the brakes really start to perform well. This is especially true if you have installed new pads on old rotors, since the pads need time to conform to the old rotor wear pattern. If you've just installed a big brake kit, the pedal travel may not feel as firm as you expected. After the second cycle, the pedal will become noticeably firmer. If necessary, bleed the brakes to improve pedal firmness.


Dave is one of the top experts anywhere, when it comes to anything about brakes.

Hopefully, by following this procedure, you will save yourself thousands $$$ over the years to come and, at the same time, enjoy smooth safe braking.

I know that I do - on all my personal and fleet vehicles.

Premium Member
4,252 Posts
Thanks for posting this Pat. It has saved me THOUSANDS of dollars and many hours of brake repairs on my fleet trucks!

Plus it's fun!
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