Heeltoe’s Recommended Brake Bedding Notes

First, it is important to know what pads you have, and what they are capable of. Heeltoe Automotive recommends Racingbrake or Hawk Racing pads, which offer different levels of performance depending on your needs. Find out more about the differences in pads under product descriptions on!  


Brake Pad bed-in is not a one-time thing. If you overheat the brakes or use them irregularly they can “un-bed” as it were and the friction surface is not ideal. It can manifest itself with noise, glazing, shaking….you need to go out and re-bed the brakes. Sometimes you need more aggressive pads to get it done!

This bed-in procedure is drawn from Heeltoe’s experience in breaking in pads (called bedding), and from technical information gathered from our suppliers’ websites.

All brake pads must be bedded-in with the rotor they will be used against. Even though those performance street pads have been burnished at the factory, a transfer film must be generated at the pad and rotor interface for optimal performance. Whether it is new or used rotors, you must follow the bed-in steps listed below to maximize brake performance.

STREET PADS, example Racingbrake ET300/500,  Hawk HPS, Ceramic, and HP+

  • After installing new brake pads, confirm pedal pressure before driving the car. On an open road with no traffic, make 3-4 heavy slow-downs, NOT complete stops, from 30-10 mph then fast
    acceleration and repeat with increasing pedal effort/brake effort each time until just shy of ABS activation. The idea is to heat and maintain that heat in the pads and rotors during the
  • On an open road with no traffic, make an additional 2 to 3 hard slows from approximately 45 mph to 5 mph applying firm pressure. Do not drag brakes or come to a complete stop. Engagement of ABS or threshold braking is not required but if it happens that is ok.
  • Now, gradually building heat into the brakes, I like to run up to about 80 and bring the car down to about 40 mph in a short distance with heavy pedal pressure. Do this 2-3 times. You may experience some fading if your brake fluid is not upgraded and you have stock brake lines.
  • Allow 15 minutes for the brake system to cool down by cruising at normal speeds.

Do not sand or grind the brake pads or rotors after this burnishing procedure has been completed. Your performance street pads are now ready for driving! I generally recommend driving the car normally from here on out. I do not recommend using the brakes as a way to slow the car down, but rather use them as a way to CHANGE SPEEDS to a lower one. Keeping this thought in mind while braking will prevent you from making long gradual stops that raise brake temperatures above the desired level for street pads. When street pads get too hot, they can glaze the rotor surface or put inconsistent pads deposits on the rotor which will cause a shimmy.

Also, be aware that Racingbrake rotors have special metallurgy that may require up to 500 street miles before break-in is achieved. You will need to get these rotors HOT! If there are not plumes of smoke billowing from new Racingbrakes you probably did not get them hot enough.

Lastly, do your best not to engage the ABS system within at least 300-500 miles of bed-in. If a shimmy should develop, one should reapply the bed-in procedure listed above.

Added 6/8/2010!

You will know your brakes are bedded correctly when they look smooth without much or any trace of the factory’s cross-hatched finish.

These Racingbrake 2-Piece rotors were returned to us because the customer was having a shimmy problem. We saw as soon as we opened the package we noticed that they had not been bedded properly. Even with ET500 pads, the bedding was not aggressive enough to take down the cross-hatching.

The same rotors as above after being bedded properly. I took the returned rotors and put them on the HT-Spec TSX. Some initial shimmy was noticed until the heat was built up and pedal pressure increased. All shaking prompt went away ad has not returned in months of mixed driving. It is not the greatest image, but you can see the cross-hatching is gone after one bedding session.

If you hear a noise after bedding that sounds like the brakes are dragging a little, this is relatively common. As your brakes wear in this noise will go away or at least will get very faint.

If you are looking at the not-bedded image above and notice that dimple in the rotor face, it is also normal. This dimple is evidence that the rotors have been hardness tested to ensure quality control. The dimple is deep an will not go away, and it does not hurt anything. If anything, be glad it is there since no other brake companies really seem to care enough about their products to test their hardness before shipping them!

RACE PADS, example Hawk Blue or other Motorsports Pad

Prospective racers are cautioned that unless these racing pads are properly bedded-in at race track conditions it can result in premature failure or ill effect.

  • Seal all brake ducts if any.
  • Slowly engage brakes 6 to 8 times at medium speeds (60 – 80 mph).  Do not drag brakes or come to a complete stop.
  • Increase speeds to simulate race conditions; allow 6 to 8 high pressure (about 500 psi) snubs at racing speed. Total engagements for Step 2 should be a maximum of 15 to 20.
  • Remove brake duct seals.  Allow the system to cool for about 15 minutes.  Do not engage brakes while the car is parked during the cool-down period.

Do not sand or grind the brake pads or rotors after this burnishing procedure has been completed. Your motorsports pads are now ready to race!

Base text sourced from Racingbrake Street Pad Break-in and Racingbrake Motorsports Pad Break-in.