As a motorist, you will likely recognise how important brakes are for safety and performance. Your brake pads play a key role in slowing down your vehicle. In this article, we discuss the different types of brake pads, what they do and why they’re so important for a well-functioning braking system.
What are brake pads and how do they work?
Brake pads are a crucial part of a vehicle’s braking system that provides the right amount of friction to slow down or stop a vehicle. They are generally made of a flat, rectangular piece of friction material that is attached to a metal backing plate.
By pressing the brake pedal, hydraulic pressure activates the brake calipers, which clamp the brake pads to the wheel’s disc or drum. When the resulting friction occurs, heat is generated, which slows the vehicle and eventually stops it by converting the kinetic energy into thermal energy.
Brake Pad Material Types
Traditionally, these brake pads are made from a combination of metallic fibres (over 30% of metallic material such as iron, copper, steel), filler materials, and a bonding agent such as resin. Metallic brake pads are known for their excellent heat dissipation, they are less compressible and have a longer life. However, they tend to produce more noise and are more likely to ‘squeal’.
Since they are made with a high content of metallic components, they offer significant performance in heavier braking situations (they work well in wider temperature ranges).
These pads are made from non-metallic materials such as rubber, Kevlar, glass – bonded by a resin agent. Organic brake pads are softer than other types of brake pads but they also produce a lot of dust. They are relatively inexpensive but they also have a shorter lifespan and can wear down faster than other brake pad materials.
If you find that you’re cleaning dark sticky dust off the wheels, it’s likely due to the carbon material which is essentially the brake dust from organic brake pads. They also tend to have a narrow temperature window – once it reaches a high temperature (by driving aggressively), they will eventually lose stopping power.
These are made from ceramic fibres, non-ferrous filler materials, and a bonding agent. In addition to their superior stopping power, ceramic brakes are known for their durability and quiet operation. They produce less dust and are proven to offer a longer lifespan than other brake pad materials. They are the most expensive when compared to the other types of brake pads on the market.
Ceramic brake pads are the newest type of brake pads and they’re much firmer than organic and semi-metallic brake pads.
Should I Replace My Brake Pads When Replacing My Brake Discs?
What should I go for – Metallic, Ceramic or Organic Brake Pads?
Metallic brake pads are a popular choice for everyday driving and are fitted to most vehicles on the road. If available for your vehicle organic brake pads may be worth considering if you are on a tight budget.
Ceramic brake pads are generally a lot more expensive, but they offer superior stopping power, durability, and reduced brake dust. They are typically used in high-performance vehicles or for drivers who prioritise brake performance and longevity. Whether you can fit these pads will also depend on the brake system fitted to your car.
Ultimately, the type of brake pads you should go for will depend on the manufacturer’s recommendations along with your budget, expected mileage and driving style.