Bedding in EBC Brake Pads on an Aston Martin DB9 or Vantage

Glowing brake rotor on a DB9

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:

  1. Worn and Uneven Brake Rotor Surface

    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.

  2. 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.
    1. 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).

Applies to

This article does NOT cover the awesome Carbon Ceramic CCM option

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:

Prerequisites

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:

Tools Needed

None!

Procedure

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.
    • [I think what they are trying to say is that the new pads have a special brake in coating applied to the pad surface to help with the bedding in process – mine did and it was clearly stenciled right on the pad material]
  • 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

6 thoughts on “Bedding in EBC Brake Pads on an Aston Martin DB9 or Vantage

  1. mike2209

    Hi Steve,

    I’ve just change rotors and pads on Aston 2209 and I fitted EBC Yellow Stuff, mainly because that was what was already fitted. I’ve got to admit I didn’t do any “special/recommended” bedding in process just took the car out and did about 20 miles of general driving with no real heavy braking. After that, the next day, I went for what you could call a “spirited” drive on some great roads in North Wales.

    I think I am also paying the price of not going through a correct bedding in process as I had a lot of break squeal from the front and it was quite bad for about 200 miles. It has now settled down and I only get a squeal in the last second of pulling up at a junction probably the last half a rotation of the wheels. I don’t get any squeal stopping when the brakes are hot, if I’ve been giving it a bit of stick !!!

    I do get quite a lot of squeal when I back the Aston out of the garage after it may have been stood for a few days though but only in reverse. Once I drive off the squeal is only there as described above in that very last second of stopping.

    The anti squeal grease with my EBC’s was copper slip grease so I contemplated stripping the pads out and re-greasing them, but just before I got chance to do it they got quieter so for now I’m waiting to see if the final stopping squeak disappears, I certainly didn’t have any squeal from the old rotors and pads.

    Time will tell !!!

    Cheers
    Mike (Aston 2209)

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    1. Hi Mike! Thanks for sharing that. The EBC Yellows are an even harder material than the Reds right? Even more likely to squeal. Sounds like you’re doing decent with them at least. Good luck with chasing out that last squeak!

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    2. EVR

      First of all, thank you Steve for the great website; I own a Vantage N420 but much of your content is also applicable and really useful.

      Mike, I kindly need your advice. Given the shortage of Pagid pads and the fact that I needed new rear pads possibly before the sensors started to do their job hence needing to replace them too, I installed the EBC Yellow Stuff yesterday.

      Quality seems good, fitting was just fine, the only problem is a shrieking noise every time I brake. Not just a squeal, think more of a scream of a thousand banshees. The indy garage who fitted them says is pretty normal for the first few miles, bedding in and whatnot, so says the documentation that came with it and online (here included, for the Red Stuff).

      I sincerely hope so, I must have made around 60 km max so far, respecting the EBC bedding-in procedure but I can be heard from miles and I can’t shake off the feeling something is not right.

      Mike, can you reassure me that at some point, eventually, after all the proper bedding in, the pads will be silent and nothing is wrong right now?

      Thanks a lot to both.

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      1. mike2209

        Hi EVR,

        Firstly let me say that neither Steve nor myself proclaim to be Aston experts or mechanics, what we do is relay our experiences as owners who enjoy getting their hands dirty to keep our chariots on the road. We are both Mechanical Engineers, albeit I am now retired, so we have a good understanding of the mechanics and systems that go into our cars. We very much learn as we go and as we encounter issues or do maintenance work with our Astons, this we share for the benefit of all.

        With regards to your pads I assume that you did use the anti-squeal grease that will have been in the box when you bought your pads. This grease is basically “copper slip” at least that’s what came with my pads. I used plenty of copper slip between the back of the pads and the calipers more than was actually supplied in the box. Just make sure you don’t use too much that it gets on the front of your pads or you definitely won’t get any squeal and you won’t get any brakes !!!

        The Yellow stuff is quite a hard lining leaning towards a track pad and will take a while to fully bed in. I believe they are more suited to the “spirited driving style” as they perform excellently when hot , no squeal. I have now done about 2000 miles on mine and other than a small squeak on the last half a wheel rev on stopping at a junction or traffic lights in town (i.e. the brakes are not hot) I no longer get the squeal. I know what you mean about people knowing you are coming as initially mine were very embarrassing !!!

        Might be worth going for a “spirited drive” and checking out what I say. When you have got the brakes good and hot do a “normal” stop as though you were pulling up at a junction around town and see if you still get the squeal.

        Other than that you could whip them out and give them a good coat of looking at just to be sure nothing is physically wrong with them but it would be pretty hard to install them incorrectly it’s a fairly straight forward job. I think you’re in the embarrassing bedding-in period that based on my experience does go away. Aston 2209 had the Yellow Stuff in when I got the car and that’s why I used the same linings when the time came to change them. The originals were silent but I too got a shock when I first drove on the new pads.

        Stick with them as the stopping power is fantastic but if you can’t stand the bedding-in period noise you can always change them to something else. I think Steve has the Red Stuff which are a bit softer I believe.

        Cheers,

        Mike (Aston 2209)

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  2. EVR

    Thank you Mike for your advice, it is very much appreciated. I know this is a hobby for you guys, I am not asking for the definitive solution, but since I found you had the same pads as mine, I thought about having your informed opinion.

    According to my calculation, I did so far in URBAN traffic around 80-90 miles. EBC suggests get to at least 200 urban miles before attempting the hard braking bedding-in procedure. They also say brake noise can be normal up to 500-1000 miles, depending on the vehicle; well, let’s hope not!

    Some other observations: just to be clear, I have EBC just on the rear axle, front ones were still good and are stock Pagid. The squeal actually shows up when brakes are somewhat hot. In cold mornings I used the car, they were silent. In a couple of hard-ish braking maneuvers on the highway I could also smell the typical brake pad well… smell. And the car feels like it is stopping less easily than with the old pads. All of this points that I am still knee deep in the initial bedding-in, but better be safe than sorry.

    On grease: there is none, since there was none in the box as you suggested, the pads came with the factory metal shim (just like the Red Stuff in Steve’s picture in the above article) and the mechanic wasn’t really a believer in said grease, saying modern cars hardly need some. He might be wrong, he might be right, but the factory pads I removed had no grease.

    Anyway, thank you for your help so far, it has been precious.

    I you have other inputs, comments or advice, please go for it. I will report back too, so other owners can be informed.

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    1. mike2209

      Hi EVR,

      Like you say I think you are still in the embarrassing stage of bedding-in.

      Your experience seems different to mine where I have had squeal at urban speeds but not when the brakes were hotter. I’m sure they will bed-in eventually (or EBC would never sell any pads!) so stick with it.

      Sorry I didn’t mention the shims but of course they should be installed as they are anti-squeal shims but they should also be coated with the grease in my opinion. I eventually smothered my shims both sides. I appreciate your installation guy isn’t an advocate of using the grease but all I can say is EBC don’t supply it for fun ! You can see a small sachet of the grease in Steve’s photo higher up in this Blog.

      With regards to braking performance the yellow stuff are excellent but because they are harder linings you do need a little higher pressure on the brake pedal so that could be why you say “the car feels like it is stopping less easily than with the old pads”. I also drive an Audi A6 Avant and when I get in after driving the Aston for a while I nearly stand it on it’s nose the first time I brake as I’ve been using higher brake pedal pressures with the Aston.

      I appreciate you have only changed the the rear pads but I am a believer in having matched components i.e. I would have the same manufacturer/grade of pads all round just like with tyres I will only ever have matched makes.

      Good luck with the bedding in and please keep us up to date with how it’s going for our information and the other readers of the Blog.

      Cheers,
      Mike (Aston 2209)

      Like

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