Your brakes are the second most important thing on your car, behind tires. All the power in the world won’t do you any good on a track if you can’t stop properly — and unfortunately, besides showing off those fancy looking drilled and slotted rotors and those rattle can red calipers, brakes don’t usually get the attention they deserve.
Good pads aren’t exactly the most “glamorous” upgrades you can do, but they are essential if you expect real performance out of your vehicle.
How Do I Know What Pads I Need?
There are a few different types of pad, so let’s go through each, as well as establishing what is best for your needs.
It is critical to buy pads that are appropriate for your driving style. Paying more doesn’t necessarily mean better in all cases. For instance; expensive, high performance pads need heat to work properly, and can have trouble stopping your car on a cold morning, even to the point of being dangerous. Plus they can be quite loud when cold, which can be annoying to some. It’s all a trade off.
If you want to ensure quiet operation and hate brake dust, then ceramic pads might be for you.
Performance pads prioritize heat resistance to fight brake fade, but this comes at the expense of quiet operation, dust generation, and cold temperature performance.
If you’re looking for solid street performance, with maybe occasional track use, then a mid-range performance pad might be your best option, as these strike a balance for effective temperature range, noise, dust, and wear life.
If your car is a dedicated track monster, only then should you look into high end track pads.
A good towing pad meets similar requirements as performance pads, however there is less of a need to get into high end, expensive territory.
The primary factor will be the kind of towing you’ll be doing and where. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time up and down hills and mountains, brake fade is a very serious concern.
Also known as NAO (non-asbestos organic), these are commonly used in light duty applications, and due to their organic makeup, they are easy to dispose of and non-polluting.
They are generally softer and quieter in operation, but wear down faster and generate more dust.
The most common pad type, and most versatile. Strong performance in any weather condition, resist heat well, and provide a firm pedal feel.
Chosen for smooth, quiet, long-lasting performance. Ceramic pads tend to generate less dust, and the dust they do generate tend to not stick to wheels as much as semi-metallic pads.
These are great for typical daily driving but are not recommended for heavy hauling or street/track performance applications. They also tend to be more expensive.
Remember, this is one area where most people do not need to overspend. If you do, however, have heavy requirements for your vehicle, it is important to know where your money is going and exactly why.
At worst, you spent 10 minutes reading, at best, this info could be a lifesaver!