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Problem:

Brake noise complaints or lack of stopping power shortly after brake job

Cause:

Not performing a proper break-in after performing brake service

Solution:

Once the job has been completed, a test drive should be performed. The test drive has two goals. The first is to make sure the brake system is operating properly. The other reason a test drive is performed involves mating the pads to the rotors. This can be called “break in” or “burnishing” the pads. It doesn’t matter what you call it, it matters that you do it. Depending on whom you talk with the number of stops you should make will vary. A good average is 10 to 12. To mate the pads to the rotors make 10 to 12 stops from about 30 to 35 mph down to about 10 mph. Allow about 30 seconds between stops for cooling.

When you deliver the vehicle to the customer, advise them not to do any severe braking for the first couple of hundred miles. This includes towing or hauling and having them anticipate their stops when possible.

Management is trying to influence two types of customers. One group of customers feels the best check for quality brake work is to go out an lock em up. Too many of this type of stop right after the job is done can have irreversible effects on the performance of the brake job. The other group of customers are those that will leave your shop with the brand new brake job and go on vacation. Not catching that customer who is leaving for vacation the day after your brake job with everything but the kitchen sink in tow can cost you big time. Talk to and educate your customers, it will benefit both of you in the long run.

Some OEMs endorse the same steps on their new cars. Figure 17.1 shows the new vehicle break-in page from a owners manual on a late model GM vehicle. You can see the same steps as stated above covered in points 2 & 3.

Figure 17.1 New Vehicle Break In

At times it will not be practical to perform the second part of the break-in process. Asking fleet customers to not tow or haul for 200 miles is not practical. In these cases, try and at least double the number of stops taken in the first step to bring the process closer to completion.

Remember that proper friction break in is part of any quality brake job.

What are some of your thoughts on brake pad break-in? We would love to hear them and any other thoughts you might have on what we should include in our Tech Tricks Tuesday posts.

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