Brake pads are a crucial part of a braking system. These pads generate friction which provides the stopping power needed to come to a safe halt. A wide variety of brake pads are available, but they can be classified into three main material categories are semi-metallic, organic, and ceramic.
Metallic and Semi-Metallic Materials
The most common brake pads are made from semi-metallic material. These brake pads are composed of metal shavings (usually copper, brass or steel) held together with resin. These brake pads are very durable and are also relatively affordable. However, their metallic nature also subjects them to more braking noises and wear down rotors faster compared to organic pads.
Organic brake pads are made from other non-metallic materials, such as glass, rubber, carbon and Kevlar. These brake pads are usually softer than other types, making them quieter and more gentle on the brake rotors and drums. However, they are suspect to brake fade, wear down quickly and create considerably more dust than metallic or ceramic brake pads.
These pads are created with ceramic fibers, fillers, and bonding agents. Ceramic brake pads also boast excellent wear resistance, low noise and dust and are easy on rotors. The downside is that they do not have the same performance levels of metallic-based pads and generally cost more than both organic or metallic-based pads.
The type of vehicle and style of driving are very important factors when it comes to choosing brake pads. Generally most drivers will be well catered for with semi-metallic brake pads as the best compromise between braking power, dust generation and noise.
REV tip: Prioritize your requirements! A good braking performance is usually synonymous with more noise and increased brake dust generation. A cleaner low-dust pad friction compound may have a soft feel, and usually are quieter, but wear out much more quickly.
Most importantly, always inspect your brakes for signs of wear! Usually, the first sign of excessive brake-pad wear is a high-pitched squealing. Other symptoms may include the vehicle pulling to one side under braking, vibrating brakes or an unusually spongy brake pedal. A grinding sound is a certain sign to get your brakes checked NOW. Also, it is advisable to inspect or change your brake fluids if necessary, whenever you change your brake pads – a small price to pay for a complete peace of mind!