Brake pads are standard components in automotive braking systems and their importance forms the core of vehicle safety. Without them, automobile wheels would wear down, braking power would be reduced and the braking system itself would suffer damage.
Brake pads are used on disc brakes and contain friction material that increases stopping power. The pads are replaceable and cheap compared to having the wheels replaced. They’re made of different materials that vary in price, performance and longevity. Take a look.
Metallic brake pads are the most widely used. They’re affordable, durable and offer good performance. They’re best installed on small vehicles that don’t witness very aggressive driving. Being heavy, metallic pads can have an impact on fuel economy although this difference isn’t high. There’s good heat transference with metallic pads as well.
Starting a car up on a cold day takes the pads longer to heat which results in some resistance when hitting the brakes. But despite this, consumers peg them as the best choice as durability and low cost win out.
Organic pads are made of organic materials like rubber, glass and resin as the binding agent. Asbestos was the material of choice in earlier years as it dissipated heat well. However, the dust created was dangerous to health and the environment so it was replaced by more natural materials.
Unlike metallic pads, organic pads are lightweight and produce very little noise. They’re ideal for small vehicles and vehicles that don’t see a lot of aggressive driving. However, their softness means they wear out faster so more dust is produced.
Semi-metallic pads are made of metal fibers and resin. They’re affordable, provide good grip even when cold and don’t wear out brake rotors fast. They have a short lifespan, however, and are noisier than organic pads. As for brake dust, the amount is more than that produced by metallic pads but less than organic pads.
Ceramic brake pads are recommended for high-performance vehicles that witness sharp turns, high speeds and frequent stops. The most expensive of all pads, they last long and don’t need frequent repairs.
Brake noise and dust are low, important when driving aggressively. However, despite these features, users will see increased wear on brake rotors as ceramic pads don’t bear a lot of the brake load.
Brake pads are chosen based on manufacturer specification. Buyers are advised to purchase only those types of pads that suit their vehicle’s capabilities. However, if a vehicle is being given a boost in power or owners just want to increase their braking power then a few general guidelines should be followed.
Semi-metallic pads are suitable for heavy towing vehicles, performance vehicles and any application where high temperatures are generated. Ceramic pads are best for users desiring less noise and dust. Performance vehicles stand to gain as do vehicles driven every day.
It’s impossible to put a number on how long brake pads last. Much depends on the quality of the pads, frequency of stop-go movement and driving, terrain, temperature and driving habits. It’s believed that pads can last for up to 70,000 miles but there are instances of durability lasting only for 100 miles. Regular checks, maintenance and altering driving habits to a smoother quality have a bearing on longevity.