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What are The Best Brake Pads: Ceramic or Semi-Metallic?

The Evolution of Brake Pads

Organic Brake Pads

Pros:

  • Soft, quiet, easy on brake rotors
  • Don’t require much heat to generate good friction
  • Produce less dust than metallic pads
  • Low manufacturing cost
  • Suitable for normal driving/commuting across many environments
  • Perfect for every day vehicles and drivers

Cons:

  • Only operate well within a relatively limited temperature range
  • Wear out quickly compared to other types of brake pads
  • High compressibility – can cause “mushy” brake pedal feel
  • Will quickly lose their coefficient of friction when overheated
  • Not at all suitable for performance driving

Semi-Metallic Brake Pads

Pros:

  • Dramatically increased braking performance over organic pads
  • Have a much higher thermal threshold due to metallic content
  • Still provide good cold bite
  • Have a much wider operating range (temperature)
  • Low compressibility – will provide a firmer brake pedal feel
  • Much more resistant to brake fade than organic pads
  • Numerous compounds available – suitable for anything from daily street driving to extreme track use

Cons:

  • Tend to be noisier than organic or ceramic pads
  • Produce more brake dust
  • More abrasive than other types of pads – will wear brake rotors more quickly
  • More expensive than organic pads (but generally cheaper than ceramic)
  • Require careful and proper bedding-in for best performance

Ceramic Brake Pads

Pros:

  • Quieter than semi-metallic pads – emit noises that are above the range of human hearing
  • Produce finer, lighter-colored brake dust which does not stick to wheels
  • Longer lifespan than organic or semi-metallic
  • Stable under a wide range of temperatures for consistent performance

Cons:

  • Typically the most-expensive type of brake pad
  • Do not produce as much cold bite as semi-metallic pads – may not be ideal in extremely cold climates
  • Do not absorb heat as well as semi-metallic pads which can increase brake system temperatures
  • Good all-around braking characteristics but were never designed as heavy duty/racing brake pads

Braking is a Compromise

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