Your vehicle’s braking system is, without a doubt, its most vital safety feature. Without brakes, a vehicle must rely on the passage of time to slow down its forward motion. So, how do brakes function? When you press down on the brake pedal, fluid is pushed via the brake lines into each wheel, bringing them all to a stop at the same time.
Your brake system as a whole converts the kinetic energy in your automobile into friction, which slows your tires and brings your car to a stop. The friction caused by the brake pads pressing against the braking discs in your car is the source of that friction.
Let’s look at the numerous types of brake pads available, the benefits and drawbacks of each, especially the differences between ceramic and metallic brake pads, and how to choose the best brake pad for your vehicle and driving style.
The purpose of brake pads
Brake pads are an important part of your vehicle’s braking system because they provide the friction that allows you to stop safely and smoothly every time. Hubs, rotors (disc), brake pads, and disc brake calipers are the four major components of a disc braking system (as opposed to a drum braking system).
During a braking event, all of these components work together to slow or stop a moving vehicle. The brake pads make contact with the rotor and apply friction/pressure in response to the driver’s pedal inputs. The friction/pressure produced reduces the rotor’s rotational speed, which reduces the vehicle’s speed.
Types of brake pads
Nowadays, brake pads are divided into three groups based on today’s technological advancements: organic, semi-metallic (metallic), and ceramic. Ceramic and metallic brake pads will be the focus of today’s article.
Organic brake pads
Organic brake pads are constructed out of a variety of materials such as rubber, carbon, glass/fiberglass, and others that are held together by resin. These brake pads are designed for everyday driving in non-performance automobiles and do not generate a lot of heat when stopping. Non-Asbestos Organic is a common name for these pads (NAO).
Ceramic brake pads
Ceramic brake pads are constructed of a long-lasting ceramic compound that is often strengthened with other materials to improve friction and heat control. Ceramic brakes are silent, emit less dust as they wear, and function reliably throughout a wider range of temperatures and driving conditions, despite their higher price tag.
Metallic brake pads
Semi-metallic brake pads, often known as “metallic” brake pads, are made up of 30–70% metals such as copper, iron, steel, or other composites, as well as a graphite lubricant and other durable filler materials. Semi-metallic brake pads can be used for a wide range of applications, from everyday driving to racing.
When to use ceramic brake pads
Ceramic brake pads are the most expensive alternative for replacement brake pads. Ceramic pads are the quietest and have the longest lifespan. They’re made of long-lasting ceramic materials combined with copper fibers, so they’re stable across a wide temperature range and produce the least brake dust. They provide a robust brake pedal while being soft on the braking system.
Ceramic brake pads have a number of disadvantages, including the fact that they do not absorb heat well in harsh braking situations, causing excessive heat and damage to the rest of the braking system, and that they do not operate as well in the cold.
Ceramic pads, which are made of ceramic materials combined with copper fibers, were created with driver comfort in mind. They are the quietest, emit the least brake dust, and are stable throughout a wide temperature range. And they’re the most durable.
Ceramic brake pads are also firmer than organic brake pads. In extreme cold, they don’t perform as well as other pads, and they’re not designed for performance use. Ceramic brake pads, on the other hand, are quiet, pleasant, and long-lasting, making them ideal for everyday driving.
- They emit noises that are above the range of human hearing, making them quieter than semi-metallic brake pads
- Make finer, lighter-colored brake dust that won’t attach to the wheels
- Organic or semi-metallic brake pads have a shorter lifespan
- For reliable performance, it’s stable across a wide temperature range
- Typically, the most expensive brake pad on the market
- Because they don’t provide as much cold bite as semi-metallic pads, they’re not appropriate for really cold locations
- Due to their inability to absorb heat as well as semi-metallic pads, they can raise braking system temperatures
- Good all-around braking performance, but not for heavy-duty applications or racetrack brake systems
When to use metallic brake pads
Semi-metallic brake pads may be a good alternative if your vehicle or driving habits are excessive. These pads, which are made up of a high percentage of steel, iron, copper, and other metals, are long-lasting, heat-resistant, and have the best stopping power.
They also operate well in a wide range of temperatures and effectively absorb heat, keeping the brake system cool. Semi-metallic pads are more durable than organic pads, but not as durable as ceramic pads, and they are priced in the middle.
Semi-metallic brake pads have a higher performance capability as a trade-off. They are more aggressive than regular brake pads and generate more rotor wear. They are also more noisy and emit a lot of brake dust.
If you don’t mind the noise and mess, they’re probably the greatest all-around choice for brake pads. If you enjoy speed, are prone to excessive or sudden braking, or are towing a big load, semi-metallic pads are the ideal option.
- Braking performance is vastly superior to that of organic brake pads
- In a wide variety of temperatures, perform well
- Less resistant to wear in a wide range of temperatures
- They have a good chilly bite right out of the box and don’t need to be warmed up
- Increase the firmness of the brake pedal (low compressibility)
- Brake fade resistance is significantly higher than that of organic brake pads
- There are a variety of compounds available, appropriate for everything from everyday street driving to intense track use
- Metallic brake pads tend to be louder
- Produce more brake dust; they’re more abrasive than other types of brake pads, which means they’ll wear brake rotors out faster
- For the best results, cautious and correct bedding-in is required
Side by side comparison
So, if you have to choose between ceramic brake pads, semi-metallic brake pads, and organic brake pads, which is the best option for you? It is entirely dependent on the ride quality you expect from your vehicle as well as your own driving style. If you have a high-performance sports car, or if you drive your car like one, semi-metallic brake pads are probably the best option.
If you spend a lot of commuting in the city, though, a solid ceramic brake pad would be the best choice. If you don’t put a lot of miles on your car, an organic brake pad can be the best, most cost-effective alternative for you.
|Ceramic brake pads||Metallic brake pads|
|Lower noise level and dust generation|
Slower wear but more abrasive on the rotor
Suitable for daily driving
Cools off quickly
|Higher noise level and dust generation|
Wears fast but causes less rotor wear
Suitable for driving in extreme conditions
Pulls more heat from the rotor
You have a few alternatives when it comes to selecting the correct brake pads for your vehicle, depending on your driving style and the needs of your vehicle. One option is to use OEM pads, which are the same as the ones that came with your vehicle from the factory.
You may also want to consider upgrading to better aftermarket brake pads, the most common of which are ceramic and semi-metallic brake pads. There is no optimal brake pad for every situation. The function of brake pads is a compromise between numerous factors:
- Noise level
- Wear on the rotor
- Dust generation
The decision is based on your own tastes as well as the needs of your car. For example, towing a big trailer, rushing around a racetrack, or commuting around town all have distinct requirements, which could lead to a different brake pad choice the next time your automobile is serviced.
Similarly, if you prefer a smooth and quiet ride, you can choose something different than if you frequently bash on the brakes.
The Best Brake Pads on the Market
Ceramic brake pads
When it comes to ceramic brake pads, you’ll do best with the Wagner QuickStop ZD1274 Ceramic Disc Brake Pad Set, or anything from Wagner QuickStop, really. That’s because Wagner QS brake pads provide like-new braking performance thanks to its OE fit and form designs, which provide constant, even braking throughout the pad’s life.
Wagner QS brake pads are engineered for consistent braking over the life of the pad and come with stainless-steel hardware and OE-style lubrication for most applications, with application-specific designs to prevent noise-causing vibration.
The OE fit and form design ensures consistent, uniform braking throughout the brake pad’s life. Noise-causing vibrations are reduced thanks to application-specific design. Engineered to provide constant and equal braking performance during the pad’s lifetime. Most applications incorporate premium stainless-steel hardware and OE-style lubrication.
- Restores braking performance
- Reduces vibration and noise
- Comes with hardware
- Included hardware sometimes don’t fit
Metallic brake pads
Meanwhile, when it comes to metallic pads, we really like the Bendix CFM737 Premium Copper Free Semi-Metallic Brake Pad, which promises stopping without compromise to deliver the total braking package.
Premium components make braking pleasurable, transforming each ride into a full-fledged driving adventure. Once you’ve experienced the pure joy of stopping with Bendix Premium 100% Copper-Free Brakes, you’ll never drive the same way again. We provide the ideal combination of performance, balance, and confidence-inspiring stability!
The brand’s premium line covers late-model applications while providing installers with cost-effective options and drivers with exceptional performance and durability.
- Noise-Eliminating Shim with 100% Copper-Free 4-Layer Shim and Hardware
- Industry Standards are met or exceeded
- Meets or exceeds the performance of copper-containing brake pads from OE and competitors
- Not available as a front and rear set
At the end of the day, the brake pads you choose are determined by your driving habits, driving conditions, and intended use. The inexpensive organic pads work nicely for everyday driving and won’t break the bank. You might also spend more on ceramic brake pads, which have a longer lifespan and are quieter.
The semi-metallic brake pad, on the other hand, is the greatest choice if you’ll be doing a lot of forceful braking, racing, or driving big loads. These are also likely to be more suitable for severely cold conditions, as their braking performance is more consistent throughout a larger temperature range.
Organic, ceramic, and semi-metallic brake pads are the most prevalent types of vehicle brake pads, but they’re far from the only ones available.
The full metallic (sintered) brake pad, which is more prevalent on motorcycles or ATVs than cars, is also an option. You might also look into the ultra-expensive carbon ceramic performance brake pads used on supercars and planes. Make sure they’re well-suited to your vehicle and usage, whichever model you choose.