Breaking in brakes
Dear Tom and Ray:
I am writing to ask your opinion about some advice my husband gave me. I have a 1992 Subaru Legacy with 123,000 miles. I just had the brake pads and rotors replaced. My husband insists that I have to "break them in." He told me to apply steady pressure to the pedal and stop from 40 mph. He says I need to do this several times. Since I clearly did not understand his instructions, he had to do it himself. So now this is a purely intellectual question. Is my husband correct about breaking in the brakes? I don't know whether to believe him or not, since a lot of his actions around cars have a cabalistic aspect to them. – Alice
RAY: What a great word, Alice: cabalistic -- as if he's a member of a cabal, or secret society. I love it. And every wife in America is probably nodding her head in agreement right now.
TOM: Oh, I thought it was a reference to cabal TV.
RAY: Well, the old caballero happens to be right this time, Alice. New brakes should be broken in. Although, of course, most brakes eventually break in on their own if you just drive around long enough.
TOM: When we do a brake job on a car, we take it out and do exactly what he describes. We get it up to 40 or 45 miles per hour, and then apply steady brake pressure and bring it to a halt. Some cars are fine after the first time you do this, and some require several applications before the brakes feel good.
RAY: This "breaking in" routine also serves another important purpose: For those times my brother forgets to put the pads in or forgets to add the brake fluid, the surprise is on HIM during the "break-in" rather than on the customer when he or she leaves the shop and drives into the nearest lamppost.
TOM: What actually happens during this break-in is that the pads and the rotors are forced to "match up," or "seat," with one another. The new parts often start out either too smooth (so there's not enough friction to provide good braking) or not smooth enough (so there's not enough surface contact between them). And in either case, you can get increased stopping distances and/or brake noise.
RAY: And riding the brakes a little bit (which is essentially what you're doing when you apply constant pressure to break them in) gets the two surfaces completely in sync. Like they're members of the same cabal. Thanks for writing, Alice.
In tribute to a beloved teacher
TOM: Today's column is dedicated to Dan Gade, a friend we didn't know we had until we read this obituary by Sally Ryen in The Davis (Calif.) Enterprise:
Dan Gade not only restored cars, but he restored hearts as well. Students and staff at Davis High School were devastated Monday (Nov. 19) when the news reached them that beloved teacher Daniel Lee Gade had died over the weekend. Gade, 56, had taught auto shop and power tech at DHS since August 1994. In that short time, Gade made an impact on many Davis teens
“He took academic types and exposed them to the blue-collar world,” said Kathy Ware, whose two sons, Mike and Matt Erke, took classes from Gade. “Here were two boys who didn't exactly like getting their hands dirty, and he made auto shop come alive for them.”
Gade died in his sleep on Monday morning of apparent heart failure. He was found by his wife, Robyn, who is an attendance secretary at Davis High. Students and staff mourned for both halves of the popular couple.
“It's evident from the strong emotions exhibited by students and staff that Dan was dynamic, a much-beloved teacher, colleague and friend,” said Marilyn Mansfield, interim principal.
Gade taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 12 years before coming to Davis. He taught both industrial arts and art in Southern California. He took a break from teaching between 1981 and 1991 to work for Snap-On Tools in Sacramento, Calif., where he was promoted to sales manager.
Known for wearing wild shirts that displayed his love for all kinds of cars, the twinkle-eyed, smiling, mustachioed Gade reached a cross-section of students that transcended academic, social, economic and racial differences.
“He was a nice, grounded, all-around guy who talked to you as a person, and not as a teacher, to students,” said junior Christine O'Neil. “He was warm and loving, and it just made the class something to look forward to.”
All over campus, posters went up proclaiming love and affection for both of the Gades. Counselors sat with bereft students in the auto-shop building, where a sign went up that read: "Dan Gade: We love you with all of our hearts." Photo memorials sprang up on doors, while a photo album Gade maintained circulated throughout the school.
“One student told me that Dan had just told him last Friday that he was going to be a great man,” said counselor Courtenay Tessler. “He said nobody had ever told him that before. I said, ‘Well, Mr. Gade never lied, so I guess he left you with quite a gift,’ and the boy just beamed.”
One student wrote: “Dear Robyn: The reason why so many students loved Dan was because he respected all kinds of people. He was everything a teacher should be.”
An avid fan of the automotive wizards of Boston, Click and Clack, Gade had a tradition of reading their syndicated column aloud every week to his classes.
“Nobody could read ‘Click and Clack’ like he could,” said one student, “but we're going to keep reading it in his honor.”
Got a question about cars? Write to Click and Clack in care of this newspaper, or e-mail them by visiting the Car Talk section of cars.com on the World Wide Web.