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Ceramic VS (semi) metallic brake pads, what’s their difference?

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mechanic-holding-a-pair-of-brake-pads

The biggest difference between ceramic brake pads and metal brake pads: No metal.

There is no metal component in the composition of ceramic brake pads, so their thermal conductivity is better than that of metal brake pads.

At the same time, it has high heat resistance, it can brake pedal capable in high-temperature weather, reduced braking distance, low dual wear, and longer service life.

Most of the composition of metal brake pads’ raw materials is composed of semi-metallic or low-metal. Therefore, its high-temperature resistance is worse than that of ceramic brake pads, it is also very susceptible to rust.

Due to the hard material, strange noises can be made after the brake pads are damaged.

What are brake pads and what do they do?

What is a brake pad, also called brake skin? In the braking system of the car, brake pads are the most critical safety parts, all braking results are decisive for brake pads, so good brake pads are an umbrella for people and cars.

The basic principle of the system works as follows: when press the brake pedal, Your car pushes pressurized fluid through its brake lines into the calipers on each wheel, brake pads are located in here. The brake fluid pushes the pads towards the discs in each wheel to slow them down, gradually bringing your wheels to a stop.

ceramic vs (semi) metallic brake pads

In other words, your braking system converts the car’s kinetic energy into heat through the friction applied by the brake pads, stopping the car.

In this article, we will take a closer look at this key component of the braking system and the advantages of each type. Eg: ceramic and semi-metallic brake pads, to help you decide which is best for your vehicle and driving style.

brake system

What are brake pads made of?

Brake pads are mainly composed of steel plates, bonded heat insulation layers, and friction blocks, the thermal insulation layer is composed of materials that do not transfer heat, the purpose is thermal insulation.

The friction block is composed of the friction material and adhesive, when braking, it is squeezed on the brake disc to create friction, to achieve the purpose of vehicle deceleration braking. Due to friction, the friction block is gradually worn.
The Anatomy Of A Brake Pad:

  • Friction block
  • Underlayer
  • Odhesive
  • Back plate
  • Shim
Anatomy Of A Brake Pad

A BRIEF HISTORY OF BRAKE PADS

The first use of brake pads dates back to the 19th century. Bertha Benz is the wife of the famous inventor of Karl Benz, founder of Mercedes-Benz. She invented the first leather brake pad for obtaining an early patent for their car in 1888.

Since then, the materials used to make brake pads have evolved with the advancement of technology.

Until the mid-to-late 20th century, as drum brakes are increasingly being replaced by modern disc brakes, manufacturers have begun producing ceramic, metal, and organic brake pads.

ORGANIC BRAKE PADS

Organic brake pads called Non-Asbestos Organic also, Made from a mixture of fibers and materials(rubber, carbon compounds, glass or fiberglass, and KevlarⓇ ), bonded with resin. They produce less dust than some other types of brake pads, such as metal brake pads.

Advantage:

  • Low noise: while significantly reducing service brake noise, it can effectively solve the low-frequency noise problem that cannot be solved by semi-metal and low-metal formulations.
  • Long service life: it can extend the service life by more than 40% compared with semi-metallic and low-metallic formulations.
  • Less dust: it does not contain ferrous metals such as steel fibers, and can solve the problem of friction dust adsorption hub, difficult to clean, and corroded hub.
  •  Low damage to the brake disc: can extend the service life of brake discs by more than 30%.
  •  Comfortable braking: reduced hardness and density due to semi-metallic, low-metallic formulations, improve its mechanical and physical, and chemical properties, making braking more comfortable.

Shortcoming:

  • High cost
    Organic brake pads have been developed over the years and improved by materials, it has good performance in terms of wear resistance and is noise controlled, and it is also more suitable for daily driving. less damage to the brake discs is generated by the dust. However, due to material costs and other reasons, organic brake pads are more expensive, when the original car is loaded, it is also generally used in mid-to-high-end models.

CERAMIC BRAKE PADS

Ceramic brake pad materials are denser and more durable. Its materials are denser and more durable, helping increase friction and thermal conductivity.

Since the Mid-80s of the 20th century, the popularity of ceramic brake pads continues to grow. The reason is as follows:

  • Using metal-free and porous materials can reduce the density of the article, it is beneficial to reduce the probability of damage to the brake disc (drum) and brake noise.
  • The friction material does not rust and corrode.
  • Low wear and less dust (hub).
  • Provides greater safety and comfort.

However, there are some limitations of ceramic brake pads. The main season is the cost: Due to the high cost of manufacturing, ceramic brake pads tend to be the most expensive of all brake pad types.

In addition, neither ceramic nor copper can absorb as much heat as other types of materials.

As a result, more heat generated by braking will be transferred to the rest of the braking system through the pads.

This causes more wear on other brake components. Finally, ceramic brake pads are not considered the best choice in extreme driving conditions.

If you are facing very cold weather or an upcoming race, you are choosing between ceramic and semi-metallic brake pads, then you will want to choose metal brake pads.

Best ceramic brake pad

SEMI-METALLIC BRAKE PADS

The difference between semi-metallic and all-metallic brake pads. They use fillers to make brake pad mixtures, instead of 100% metal. All-metal brake pads are often used for truly extreme braking requirements.

The metal content of semi-metallic brake pads is 30% – 70%, including copper/iron/steel and other composite alloys.

These different metals are combined with graphite lubricants and other fillers to make brake pads. Available metal brake pad compounds vary, Each type has its own strengths in everything from daily commutes to track racing.

For many drivers, especially drivers who focus on high performance, it is easy to choose from ceramic and semi-metallic pads.

Performance-oriented drivers tend to choose metal brake pads because they can provide better braking performance over a more comprehensive range of temperatures and conditions.

Metals are good conductors of heat, they tend to withstand more heat, and it also helps the braking system cool down faster. They are also not compressed like organic brakes, which means that less pressure needs to be applied to the brake pedal to affect braking capacity.

However, there are some disadvantages of metal brake pads compared to ceramic and organic brake pads.

Metal brake pads are noisier than ceramic or organic brake pads, then they are driving louder than others.

Metal spacers also put more pressure on the braking system, increasing the brake discs’ strain and wear. In the price, metal brake pads are priced between organic and ceramic brake pads. Compared to the other two, they produce more brake dust.

semi-metallic-brake-pad

LOW-METALLIC BRAKE PADS

Low-metallic friction material appearances firstly in the 90s of the 20th century, and it becomes the newest choice in Europe, instead of semi-metal friction material.
Advantage: Largely reduced, or even avoided the defect that semi-metallic friction materials are inherently high specific gravity, easy to rust, easy to produce brake noise, injury duality (disc, drum), and excessive thermal conductivity

Shortcoming: Occasionally, brake noise is generated.

In a broad sense, less metal is Non-asbestos-non-steel fiber type friction material, it also contains a small amount of steel fiber, which can help to overcome the defects of semi-metallic friction materials, including high specific gravity/ easy to rust/ brake noise is easy to generate/Injuries to duality (discs, drums) and excessive thermal conductivity.

CERAMIC VS. METALLIC VS. ORGANIC BRAKE PADS

Below is a simple table showing the differences in comparing organic/ceramic/metal brake pads.

Type of brake pad Organic Ceramic Semi-metallic Low-metallic
Price ★★ ★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★
Performance ★★ ★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★
Noise ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★ ★★★
Wear of braking system ★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★ ★★★★
Durability ★★★★★ ★★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★
Environment City road City road, hot and dry weather Mountain road, rain, and snow weather Cold, low temperature weather
Car models Some Japanese cars Japanese cars, new energy cars American and large cars European car

The Longevity Of Your Brake Pads Depends On Several Factors

  1. Reduce sudden braking. Drive carefully, do not step on the gas pedal and slam on the brakes.
  2. When going downhill, don’t keep hitting the brakes. You can slow down first, then use the brakes alternately, to reduce the wear of brake pads.
  3. When driving normally, keep a safe distance from the ahead car, and don’t get too close, so as not to brake suddenly.
  4. In terms of vehicle maintenance, we should regularly check the brake pads for foreign objects, and whether the brake pads are abnormally worn.
brake pads maintenance

Which Brake pad Is Right For You?

Between ceramic pads, semi-metallic pads, and organic pads, which one is best for you?
The best is to change to the “original”, the same brake pads as the original. Or what do you expect from the vehicle and how do you drive it?

If you have a high-performance sports car, or at least drive your vehicle like a sports car, the best choice is semi-metallic brake pads. On the other hand, if you commute to the city frequently, you can find the best choice is solid ceramic brake pads.

If your vehicle doesn’t have many miles, organic brake pads may be the best low-priced option to match your driving habits.

No matter which type you choose, check your brakes regularly and replace your pads.

When Should I Replace My Brake Pads? 

A scream is made when you hear a metallic “clink” at the bottom of the brake pads making contact with the brake discs, it means your brake pads need to be replaced. When an alarm indication appears on the dashboard, we need to replace the brake pads as soon as possible.

When you check the brake pads regularly, when the thickness of friction material is less than 3mm, we need to replace the brake pads. Replace the brake pads in the above situation, The decision to decide whether to make ceramic or metal pads or overpriced organic pads – it’s up to you.

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