Brakes are an important topic - screw something up while working on the engine, and the car won’t start, but screw up the brakes, and it won’t stop… While routine brake maintenance is a great DIY project (and a good way to stay in touch with the general health of your suspension, too), some things most of us do routinely can compromise both brake “feel” and performance.
CC Tech, Corvette Central’s how-to library, recently added an excellent piece on brake bedding that’s a must-read for anyone who does their own pad changes. Even if your a “do it for me” kind of owner, it’s still worth reading and absorbing, because you will most likely be the person doing the break-in on your new pads. Advice varies between pad manufacturers; generally speaking, they recommend a series of slow-downs from increasing speeds, followed by a cool-down period, in order to establish a “transfer layer” on the rotors themselves.
Speaking of the rotors, that’s one area where most garage mechanics don’t follow the manufacturer’s recommendations - pad swaps should always be accompanied by either new rotors, or a resurfacing of the old ones aggressive enough to remove the previous compound’s transfer layer. Failure to do this can lead to poor brake grip, an uneven transfer layer that causes brake shudder, or spots on the disc that are work-hardened from excessive heat that can be impossible to machine away.
So, if you’ve ever done your own brakes and then said, “Darn it, they STILL have a vibration…” this article is written just for you.