Before we discuss brake pad types, a basic understanding of brake pads in general:
Brake pads are absolutely vital to safety for obvious reasons: If you can’t stop your vehicle from heading into danger, you’ll be in danger real quick! Because of this, it is very unlikely that you will encounter “bad” brake pads, as the company would be sued out of existence, but you can get a little more safety and peace of mind out of better performing brake pads. Let’s learn more about the different brake pad types and how they affect both braking performance and your wallet!
Brake Pad Materials Explained:
As the above video explains, there are differences between the three different types of brake pad materials you will typically encounter.
Organic Brake Pad Types
These pads will usually cost the least, get the most initial bite, and create the most brake dust with use, partially because they also wear out the fastest. They are the softest material of the main three, and also tend to be found on economy cars and lightweight vehicles.
Semi-Metallic Brake Pad Types
These pads are the most versatile, and price in this material category will definitely play a role in how good the brake pads are. They are typically priced between organic and ceramic. Semi-metallic brake pads are the most common OEM material installed when cars are new, but they aren’t the overwhelming majority.
Ceramic/NAO Brake Pad Types
Ceramic pads deal with heat the best of the three, and are typically better for aggressive drivers, work vehicles, and modified vehicles. While they tend to be the most expensive, entry-level ceramic brake pad types aren’t too much more expensive than semi-metallic and organic. They also produce the least amount of dust of the three.
Diagnosing Bad Brake Pads
It’s always important to be sure your brake pads are safe, so any noise coming from them should be inspected. Not many electronics currently monitor brake performance and wear yet (most brake pad wear sensors are just a one-time-use on/off switch) but that may change if OBD3 ever happens. You currently can’t count on electronics and dashboard warning lights to tell you when you need to replace your brake pads, or rotors for that matter. These components will need to be inspected by someone that knows what they are doing, and replaced properly, along with any hardware that goes with them.
Brake pads have friction material attached to a metal backing plate, and the backing plate is usually the “shape” of the brake pad, playing the important role in how it fits in the brake caliper. The friction material gets thinner as it wears, and should be replaced well before the backing plate meets the brake rotor. Uneven wear should be noted and the issue causing it should be fixed before installing new brake pads.
Some brake pads types and quality levels may get cooked under heavy braking, and should be replaced/upgraded with a higher performance brake pad type, regardless of how much material is left. A cooked brake pad will be less effective at stopping as is, but may also crack and fall apart, leaving less friction material available to press against the brake rotor, further reducing the effectiveness of the brake pad.
If you would like to know more about the different brake pad types, let us know in the comments section of the Brake Pad Types Explained video! We are always looking for new topics to cover better than any other channel on YouTube, or breaking new ground by being the first to cover a topic! Thanks for watching and reading!