Choosing the correct brake pads for your car can sometimes be confusing. There seems to be a number of choices and, of course, price options available when selecting the brake pads you want to have on your car. We always recommend the pads that most closely match the manufacturer’s original pad type as that is what the car was engineered to have as its braking friction type. However, the consumer may wish to install a different type of pad for various reasons.
Some may wish to install a different style of pad based on use or cosmetic issues. The two most common pads available in the aftermarket are ceramic pads and metallic pads. It helps to know the difference when choosing a brake pad, especially for someone who wishes to do the pad replacement themselves.
Metallic brake pads contain anywhere from 30 to 70 percent metals such as copper, steel, iron, and other composite materials so the performance of the pad can vary as widely as the materials used. These components are bonded into the brake pad with organic resins and baked in industrial ovens to form the friction material of the brake pad. There are advantages and disadvantages of metallic brake pads of course. The advantages are:
- Excellent braking performance in both hot and cold conditions.
- Able to withstand heavy braking such as downhill or towing heavy loads creating extreme brake temperatures before performance begins fading.
- Excellent brake grip or “bite” with a firm pedal feel.
- Can be made to accommodate many different driving styles and vehicle types.
- They are generally more affordable and long-lasting.
The disadvantages are:
- Metallic pads can squeal and are generally louder than most every other pad.
- High levels of brake dust can lead to dirty wheels.
- Metallic pads can wear out rotors quickly, and rotors cost more than brake pads.
Ceramic brake pads use ceramic materials such as what you might think of in pottery although they are much more dense in order to stand up to the rigors of the intense heat created by the friction of braking. The advantages of ceramic pads are:
- Relatively low levels of brake dust. The dust that is produced is lighter in color and barely visible.
- Very quiet, emitting almost no sound compared to metallic.
- Good cold and hot performance for everyday cars.
- Since the pads are made of softer materials, they are gentler on brake rotors than metallic pads are.
- Ceramic pads can last longer than metallic pads.
All in all, it may come to personal choice. As your service professional, we will typically recommend the pads that most closely resemble the manufacturer’s specifications.