Doing More Damage Than Good?

There are a ton of options when it comes to choosing brake pads. Sad but true, a lot of drivers don’t actually know which ones they should choose.  While the local parts guy or mechanic says  they have . . . “Good. Better. Or best.”  Well — that’s really not the case.

So don’t worry, here I’m covering the basics about brake pads before you spring for top shelf — or cheap out for the bottom shelf.

First, let’s check out the types of pads. There are four basic styles;

1. Organic

Made with fibers mixed with fillers and binding resins to hold them together, common materials used are glass, Kevlar, and carbon. These pads are a softer, gentler bite on the rotor and tend to be very quite compared to ceramic and semi metallic. But these pads can heat up quickly in aggressive situations giving a soft, mushy feeling.

Use: For the everyday parts car or Prius driver, this is your pad.

Pricing: Low

2. Ceramic

Made with a blend of ceramic fibers, fillers, and bonding agents. The largest benefit is the lack of dust and noise.  Plus ceramic usually last longer than organic pads due to handling a higher temperature threshold. These pads tend to wear a little longer than organic compounds but can’t hold up to heavy use like a semi-metallic pad.

Use: For those who want rotor friendly and low brake dust, this is your pad.  Racers — beware.

Pricing: Middle

3. Semi Metallic

Made with a blend of metal fibers such as steel wool, iron, or copper along with fiction modifiers and base compounds — these pads have higher operating temperatures than organic pads and do not wear as quickly as ceramic or organic.  But, they are more abrasive due to the metal fibers and wear on rotors more aggressively, can make more noise, create more brake dust and may need to be warmed up — to effectively work.

Use: Aggressive drivers and weekend racers — this is your pad.

Pricing: High

4. Sintered

Made of nearly pure metal, these pads are for extreme use and will provide extreme grip from a cold start. They get their name from the heating process to form the metal composite material to the backing plate.  These pads have an extreme life expectancy extreme loads, but will have more war to the rotors due to the material.

Use: If you are planning full-on racing, driving the snow, mud, or a circuit course, this is your pad.

Pricing: Very High

Now that you know a bit about the styles, here’s a quick reference guide to driving habits versus brake pad habits.

Brake Pad Chart

Hopefully now, when you make a trip to the parts store or the mechanic asks you what type of brake pads you would like, you’ll get the right ones that fit your driving style.

Good luck and happy e-braking!!

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