How to Burnish Brake Rotors

by Skip Shelton

The braking system is the primary mechanism used to slow the vehicle. Brake pads and rotors that are not properly broken-in, or burnished, may result in sub-optimal braking conditions. Uneven wear will result in throbbing, pulsating or increasing the braking distance required to bring the vehicle to a full stop. Burnish your brakes as part of the brake servicing process, to achieve both longevity of the brake pads and rotors, as well as help ensure your brakes are operating at maximum efficiency. Burnishing should occur whenever the brake pads or rotors have been refinished or replaced.

Drive the vehicle to a road relatively free of traffic and curves immediately following brake servicing. Allow the brakes to cool if they were used while transporting the vehicle to the road.

Accelerate to approximately 30 mph. Do not "ride" the brakes during the acceleration process. "Riding" the brakes is characterized by pressing the brake pedal during acceleration. To ensure this does not occur, be sure to not touch the brake with your foot until you are ready to slow the vehicle. "Riding" the brakes during acceleration can superheat the rotors, resulting in ineffective burnishing.

Brake evenly and smoothly until the vehicle comes to a stop. Do not allow the brakes to lock. Full rotation of the rotors is required during the burnishing process. Do not allow the brakes to remain clamped to the hot rotors following a full stop. Place the vehicle in park, and remove your foot from the brake pedal until you are ready to accelerate again.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 approximately 20 times. Allow the brakes to cool between each acceleration and stopping cycle to ensure proper burnishing.


  • check Select a road which allows speeds of 30 mph.


  • close Clamping the brakes to heated rotors at a full stop will result in material transfer of the brake pads to the rotors in a single area. Such transfer will result in a bump or ridge, which will create uneven wear patterns over time.

About the Author

Skip Shelton has been writing since 2001, having authored and co-authored numerous articles for "Disclose Journal." He holds a Bachelor in Science in education and a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in management from Northwest Nazarene University. Shelton also operates a small automotive maintenance and part-replacement shop.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera brake image by Jan Will from