Cars Simplified: Everything Automotive Explained

Brake Pads

Disk brake systems use pairs of pads to clamp down on the disk in order to create vehicle-stopping friction. Semi-metallic pads are the most common, but ceramic pads have better stopping power. Another option is organic pads, but these produce a lot of dust and tend to wear out quickly.

Types of Brake Pad Friction Material

Semi-Metallic Pads

Most vehicles on the road today are using semi-metallic brake pads. These pads are about average when it comes to life, braking power, temperature resistance, and brake dust, but their hard, unforgiving material sometimes makes them noisy, and are tough on rotors, which reduces their life span. Originally called "metallic brake pads", they are more commonly called semi-metallic now due to "metallic" sounding like they are just slabs of metal.

Organic Pads

Organic material pads are softer than semi-metallic and ceramic pads, which lead to good stopping power without much noise, but the drawback of the soft material is that it wears out faster and creates more dust than any other type of pad. Organic pad dust is also darker and harder to remove than that of ceramic.

Organic pads can heat up very quickly under stress, which is why they are the most prone to brake fade. Because of this, it is strongly recommended to not use organic pads when towing, and they are generally not recommended for large, heavy vehicles.

Ceramic Pads

Some materials are better suited to the heat of heavy braking, but their cost prevents them from being used in some cars. Ceramic brake pads are an example of this. Their high resistance to heat means their surface area can always provide the best braking performance after heavy usage.