It's an ages old debate: mayonnaise or miracle whip. Sandwich eaters everywhere fall into one of the two camps, and both think the other side's spread is disgusting. The debate rages here in our office, as well. "You may as well smear your hoagie with my lactose intolerant daughter's diaper," screeched one mayo advocate in the break room to another employee lubricating his rye bread with miracle whip. Hateful, hateful words.
Luckily, the question over the best brake pads is much more civilized. Like the bread spread debate, proponents of performance brake pads land in two groups: fans of ceramic brake pads and supporters of metallic brake pads. We're not going to be able to definitively say which are the best brake pads, but we can lay out the facts and let you choose sides.
Ceramic Brake Pads
Don't let their name fool you—ceramic pads aren't made from the same stuff as fine china teacups. Not a chance. They're actually created from a blend of super-strong ceramic and copper fiber, and they represent the latest generation of brake pad technology. Here's a quick breakdown of their pros and cons:
- They're quieter than metallic pads.
- They dissipate heat better for less brake fade.
- They create less dust, and the dust itself is lighter in color.
- They're gentler on brake rotors.
- They're not as aggressive as metallic pads.
- They're not recommended for racing or heavy-duty towing.
- They're generally more expensive than comparable metallic pads.
Metallic Brake Pads
As their name implies, metallic pads are made with metal fibers in the braking compound…and, they're fond of listening to Cinderella while you drive. So, dust off your copy of Night Songs, tease your hair in the air, and check out the pros and cons of metallic brake pads:
- They're more aggressive than ceramic pads.
- They pull heat away from the rotor for cooler braking.
- They're available in track-ready and heavy-duty towing formulations.
- They're relatively less expensive than comparable ceramic pads.
- They're louder than ceramic pads.
- They generate more dust that's black and grimy.
- They're more abrasive and wear through disc brakes and faster.
The Bottom Line
The auto industry has cast their vote on the matter—more and more manufacturers are outfitting their new autos with ceramic pads as standard. That's the direction that the market is heading.
But, the aftermarket still holds metallic pads near and dear to their heart. Performance companies like Brembo Brakes and EBC Brake Pads continue to stick primarily with metallic pads because of the performance capabilities. Mated with deluxe brake calipers and stainless steel brake lines, metallic pads can bring the speediest speed racers to a commanding halt in no time flat.
On the other hand, if you're a regular commuter who doesn't run quarter-mile sprints or tugs full tons of cargo up and down The Grapevine, you don't really need the muscle of Posi Quiet brake pads. A stepped up Hawk HPS performance ceramic pad set is much stronger than your stock pads but won't cause whiplash every time you tap the brakes.
Really, there's only one answer to the "what're the best brake pads" question: the ones that stop you in time. Ceramic or metallic doesn't mean much if they don't work.