I have a 2006 Mazda 3 that until yesterday, had soft/spongy brakes. A few days ago I brought it to my local repair shop to take care of the problem, and $300 later, I had new front pads and machined rotors, a fully flushed and bled brake system, and carefully inspected master cylinder & vacuum system, and was told the brakes were no longer soft/spongy.

Driving home, I hit the brakes, and they were indeed soft and spongy. It took 2 pumps to stop from speeds over 20 mph. Apparently, my mechanic must not have driven the car very fast. So I checked on the internet, and found a note that sometimes the ABS system can get into a funny state, where it needs to be activated to a full stop to reset it.

So yesterday, I sped up to 50 mph, and slammed on the brakes (activating the ABS) until the car stopped. After than, the brakes were firm. And they are firm today. So I'm wondering, did slamming on the brakes really fix things? If so, what was the actual problem that got fixed?

Edit: It's been almost 4 years since I posted this question. About every six to twelve months, the symptoms reappear, and I have to repeat the process of speeding up to 50 mph and slamming on my brakes until the car comes to a full stop... then the symptoms are gone for another six months to twelve months.

  • 4
    That's very unsettling info, you having to use ABS (a safety feature) once before it actually works. It does sound logical (although moronic IMHO). Best thing to do is to try the brakes out a couple of times, just to make sure. Oct 9, 2013 at 14:49
  • What ended up being the issue? I have the same spongy brakes after ABS activated. No ABS light is on at all. Master cylinder replaced and it didn't fix it.
    – user13696
    Dec 16, 2015 at 0:03

2 Answers 2


Sounds to me like the technician didn't burnish (or seat) the brake pads. Anytime you replace the brakes pads you should make several hard stops (not enough to activate the ABS) from 35 and then 55 mph. This seats the pads to the rotors, and eliminates the spongy feeling.

  • 1
    That makes a lot more sense than the explanation of getting the ABS out of a hard to explain state. It could have been just coincidence that the spongy feeling felt exactly the same before and after the brake pad replacement.
    – Mike Godin
    Oct 9, 2013 at 15:43
  • That's possible. I never had to seat my brake pads myself before. I guess my workshop of choice just did it for me all these years. Oct 9, 2013 at 16:11
  • I find that my breaks always feel a bit spongy right after getting the pads replaced / system bled. I never really knew why, but this makes sense to me. Probably just a coincidence that it felt about the same before/after.
    – user3729
    Oct 9, 2013 at 20:21
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    In europe we tend to suggest to people to apply firm but gentle braking for the first few miles to allow the pads to bed in correctly. We wouldnt normally advise people to make hard stops to seat the pads.
    – Mauro
    Nov 29, 2013 at 16:22
  • @Mauro We expect the Technician to do it, not the customer. I wouldn't give a car back to the customer with anything less than the brakes working to full capacity. Nov 29, 2013 at 16:48

To bed in new brakes make 8-10 gentle stops from 30-15 mph.followed by 8-10 medium stops from 45-30 mph. followed by 8-10 hard stops from 55-65 to 25mph.Allow 30 secs. between stops.Recommended by BENDIX

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