When it comes time to replace your brake pads, today’s aftermarket has a wealth of offerings to choose from, in a variety of materials. Each type of material has its own specific characteristics that should be carefully matched to your driving style in order to find a combination that will suit you best.
Many cars come from the factory fitted with organic pad material. Organic material can be composed of a variety of different ingredients such as Kevlar fiber, glasses, rubbers and resins. Characteristics of an organic pad include low brake rotor wear, quiet operation and unfortunately, liberal amounts of brake dust. Pads made from organic material generally work well at the low temperatures found in normal street driving, but can exhibit inferior and inconsistent braking at the higher temperatures found with track or high performance driving.
Ceramic pads outperform organic pad material in almost every aspect, including improved high temperature braking performance, reduced pad wear and even reduced brake dust production. Brake rotor wear may be slightly higher than an organic pad, but still very low, and noise levels can potentially be as quiet as that from an organic pad.
For extremely high performance and race applications, Semi-metallic and metallic pads are common. These pads are not typically your best choice for street driving, as they tend to be designed for use at the higher temperatures found in racing. Metallic pads designed for race applications will exhibit very weak low temperature braking ability and excessive brake rotor wear, in addition to extremely noisy operation compared to organic and ceramic pads. Composite materials such as carbon-fiber may be blended into a semi-metallic pad, in order to alter its optimum heat ranges, friction and wear characteristics. In general, even these will not offer their best performance when cold. There are a number of brake pads on the market, each with their own ideal environment. No matter the car you drive or the type of driving you do, there is almost always a pad type that will suit you best.