Everyone brings up their 0-60 time, bragging about how fast their car can be, but do you ever stop to think about your 60-0 time? This is the measurement used by manufacturers and journalists to rate the stopping performance of vehicles. Used on everything from the next everyday sedan to the next hyper car. Stopping performance is just as important if not more important than power. If you can’t stop the car then do you really want to drive it?
Upgrading your brake pads from OEM can have many benefits to your overall driving experience. Whether you are looking for more performance or for better daily driving in stop and go traffic, different pad materials and compounds can drastically change how your vehicle feels and drives. Since not everyone uses their car for the same end goal there are a lot of options out there on what to pick, so let’s go over the different types of pad materials and their general uses to help better decide on what you and your vehicle need.
Light-duty Brake Pads
Organic pads can also be referred to as non-asbestos organic or aramid fiber brake pads. In a different time these pads were, as you probably could have guessed, made of asbestos. As that was decidedly not a good material to use, manufacturers changed to other organic materials such as kevlar. Organic pads are often softer than other pad types, this leads to a quieter brake pad in operation. The softer material also produces less force on the rotors leading to less wear and longer lasting rotors and braking components. The downside of softer pads is they tend to produce more dust and wear faster than other pad materials, but depending on your driving habits, the cost savings of organic pads can offset the need to replace them more often. Being softer and less resilient to repetitively high temperatures also means that organic pads are more suited to light weight and smaller vehicles in normal driving conditions.
Heavy-duty Brake Pads
Next on the list is semi-metallic brake pads. Semi-metallic pads are a blend of metals and other friction materials. Due to the metal content of the pad material, semi-metallic brake pads will cool faster than organic pads making them more suited for heavy duty braking and more performance braking. Their high metal content makes them less compressible, which while making them able to work harder, will still produce brake dust and tend to create more noise than other pad types. They’re also a bit tougher on the rotors, but are longer lasting as a trade off. The higher performance does mean these pads will generally be more expensive than most organics. The heavier duty nature of semi-metallics allows them to work better on heavier cars and trucks.
Performance Brake Pads
If we are going to talk about cost to performance ratio, then next on our list are ceramic brake pads. The materials in these pads are not much different from what is used to make mugs and plates. Ceramic pads usually have pieces of copper woven into the pad material to aid in friction and heat dissipation. Ceramic pads will be quieter and produce very little dust when compared to organic or semi-metallic pads. They also will last longer and will have less brake fade than the aforementioned materials, making them more ideal for performance and hard daily driving. As is life, everything has its price, even brake pads. Ceramic brake pads will cost the most of the three discussed so far and while being the best performer, do not dissipate heat as well as others here, which can have an effect on rotor life.
High Performance Brake Pads
Going furthest down the rabbit hole of brake pad material choices would be ferro carbon (Hawk Performance) and carbon ceramics, both of which duke it out for the overall performance pad. The reason these types of pads gain so much support in the performance driving world is down to how they are made. Both combine the pros of metallic pads with the pros of ceramic pads while minimizing the downsides. Yes, both types of pads will produce more dust than full ceramic pads, but they will also outperform them. This is due to the addition of the carbon to the pad material. With that you get plenty of bite, which helps for brake feel and heat dissipation to reduce brake fade. That said, these can be costly and generally only want to be used when performance driving is an important part of our vehicle usage. It is important to note that brake pads specifically designed for performance driving can have poor street driving characteristics as may need to be at operating temperature to operate at optimal efficiency.
With so many options and differences in driving picking the right brake pads can be quite frustrating and difficult. Want to read more? Check out our ultimate brake pad guide!<