One of the most common maintenance items on any car, the DB9 and Vantage included, is servicing your brakes. When your service includes either changing the brake pads, the brake rotors, or both, it is necessary to properly ‘mate’ the two components together for optimal performance and, in the case of an Aston Martin, to reduce or eliminate brake squeal.
The bedding in process is tackling two things at the same time:
It shapes the surface of the pad to match the rotors surface. If you’d ever looked at the surface of a used brake rotor you will notice that the wear isn’t completely even. A used rotors surface will have waves and perhaps grooves in it. If you change just the pads on your Aston without resurfacing or replacing the rotors, the new pads are flat and will only be making contact with the tops of the ridges or waves, significantly reducing the braking friction area and your braking ability. Bedding in the pads immediately after installation will match these up under more controlled conditions so your brakes are ready when you need them.
- There is some science at work. When you bed your pads in to old or new rotors, it chemically deposits (bakes) some of the pad material onto the surface of the rotor. The friction coefficient (grippiness) of the pad to rotor increases once this is accomplished, and gives you better braking.
- It should be noted that this is one of the conditions that can lead to the annoying brake squealing that Aston Martins are typically vexed with. Most harder brake pad materials (available on the aftermarket) will reduce brake dust, but are harder to bed in properly (and keep bedded in).
Heads Up – READ THIS
Aston Martin has fitted the DB9 and Vantage with a mighty set of steel brakes from Brembo. This article is NOT covering the even mightier optional Carbon Ceramic (CCM) brakes that were an option on some vehicles (and they have their own bedding in process).
This article ONLY covers the bedding in process for EBC Red Stuff brake pads. For my 2005 DB9, that is EBC part number DP31908C for the Fronts, and part number DP31909C for the Rears. The EBC Red Stuff pads are much, much cheaper than the OEM pads, and cheap than my favorite Porterfield R4-S pads. So, I gave them a try once.
I should point out that my experience with the EBC Red Stuff pads was unpleasant. They squealed like crazy – all the time. So much so I wrote this unflattering article about it (check it out here). But, in full disclosure, I now realize I made a mistake and followed the Aston Martin OEM pad break in procedure rather than figuring out if EBC had its own procedure (would a print out of the procedure in the box be too much to ask?). To be fair, I may have spoiled my new EBC pads by doing this, and glazed my new rotors causing the squeal. Learn from my mistake, follow the procedure below and maybe you will have better luck. [Please leave me a comment below if you do and the EBC pads are nice and quiet on your Aston]
NOTE: This article is NOT for the OEM original Aston Martin supplied brake pads (made by Pagid).
Here are two other bedding in procedure articles I have created if you are using these other pads:
To get to this point you’ll probably have done either a ‘Pads Only’ or ‘Full Brake Service’. I have a few videos that might help you with those tasks:
- Everything you’d want to know about Aston Martin Brakes
- Doing a Pads Only Brake Service
- Doing a Full Brake Service [Coming Soon]
I first checked out the EBC Brakes website figuring that I would be able to find their recommended bedding in procedure. It was buried as part of their Frequently Asked Questions page. Check their website out yourself for any changes.
If you’ve just changed your brakes:
- Be sure to pump the brake pedal a few time BEFORE you back out of the garage right after the brake pad change. This will close the gap between the pads and rotors to normal. You’ll probably notice a ‘long pedal’ on the first pump, and by the 2nd or 3rd the pedal feel and stroke should be normal again. If it isn’t, DON’T put it into gear until it is.
- Drive cautiously as you begin bedding them in. Leave lots of space for stopping, remember that your brakes won’t be at the full and normal performance level.
EBC bedding in procedure for Red Stuff pads for Street Use
- Bedding in when the red EBC surface coating (marked on the pads as Brake In) is applied.
- Best procedure is to drive gently avoiding harsh braking unless in an emergency for first 100 miles.
- In the second 100 miles (up to 200) you can use gently increasing brake pressures when using the brakes.
- Only after 200 miles of urban driving (not 200 miles on a motorway/freeway where brakes are used less) should you attempt to apply heavy load and heat to the brakes.
- To do this final bedding:
- Slow from 60 mph to 10 mph five times in a row.
- Then drive slowly for a few minutes if safe to do so to allow the brakes to cool.
- Try to avoid coming to a rest whilst the brakes are heated.
- A smell may be noticed from the warm brakes, this is normal.
- Repeat this procedure a second time after the brakes have totally cooled down.
- [Note – this final bedding in procedure is very similar to the Aston Martin OEM pad bed in procedure I wrote about in this article. The big difference here is that EBC wants us to drive 200 miles of gentle urban use before doing this final process]
- EBC pads get better with miles. Even after this bed in procedure it can take up to 1500 miles before the pads are at their best. In the meantime the pads will be good and safe but true potential not realised. EBC makes performance pads that last, they do not bed in within 5 minutes driving. Noises will be more likely during the first 1000-1500 miles use whilst this chemical bedding takes place.
- Never attempt to sand or scotchbrite brake pads to assist it bedding in or noise reduction: this will only make things worse by taking the pads “off-flat” and require hundreds of miles driving to seat them again during which time the brakes will feel very dull. The only way to seat pads is against the rotor they will be used on and by following our bedding recommendation.
Essentially they DON’T want us to work the crap out of the brakes immediately, and overheat them. They want a gentle bedding in without the heat shock -which could ruin them. Note that this is the complete opposite of the Aston Martin OEM pad procedure that say to go out and do lots of 60 – 0 stops right out of the box. Don’t use that procedure here.
EBC also lists a procedure for Track Day or Race Use:
We remind you there is no warranty on any EBC product for race use due to the very varying conditions that can be seen. However, care bedding pads in and monitoring wear will get the best from our products.
Most EBC pads including Yellow range pads now have the brake in coating. If possible and using a street based car, fit the pads before the race use and bed in as above for street use. Try to get 200-300 miles urban driving on the pads before racing them. If this is not possible and you fit at the track bed like this.
Drive two laps steadily applying the brakes every few seconds and then coast for a full lap without any unnecessary braking to allow pads and rotors to cool down. Drive a third lap applying the brakes slightly harder each time and again drive a cool down lap. Do not pull up and park the car with the brakes red hot, try to let them cool as much as possible before coming to a rest. It is also important to understand that the pads must be geometrically matched to the rotor (flat and parallel) before they will bed in chemically. If you do the above bed in and get violent fade first use you must repeat the bedding procedure. We get lots of new customers calling in saying my brakes have faded and when they send a digital the pad is only touching on 70-80% of its surface area. Fade early in a pads life is almost a good thing. It is called Green fade and will disappear so if you suffer Green fade (you will notice this by smell), you are on the right path and this is not a negative. If you are getting fade after 20 laps and the pads are part worn, then something else needs looking into such as material choice, bleeding of the system, driving style, etc