Types of brake pads and the difference they make

Growing up, you might have heard the saying "you get what you pay for." But, does that apply to the sophistication of your brake system? This article will explore the differences between economic brakes and premiums.

A sophisticated system

A brake system has many moving parts to consider that are essential to the safety and longevity of a vehicle. If it were equipped with old brakes or ones that were never checked on, tuned up or replaced, that could put the driver and everyone on the road at risk of an accident. Because of the importance of this system, it's important to know the different parts of a brake.

A disc brake system, for example, uses discs to turn the wheel. The disc uses brake pads fitted to a caliper to grab the spinning disc or rotor so that the vehicle can slow down. Brake pads cover a percentage of the rotor to efficiently stop the vehicle. The entire braking system is operated with hydraulics to apply pressure from the pads to the rotor when the brake pedal is pressed.

With these systems in place, there still needs to be a massive amount of force applied to bring your vehicle, weighing thousands of pounds, to a stop as it travels at 40 to 60 miles per hour. Choosing the right brake pads will help evenly distribute the necessary brake pressure for a smooth stop.

The quality of your brake pads can change the frequency of repairs.The type of brake pads on your car can make a huge difference in their longevity.

New vs. aftermarket brake pads

No matter which brand or style, the brake pads will help stop a car. However, it's important to note that the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has guidelines for new vehicle standards, but not for aftermarket replacement brakes.

The standards ensure new vehicles go through rigorous brake testing such as coming to a complete stop within a certain distance. The same manufacturing rules do not apply to replacement parts. What this means is that you need to be familiar with where your parts are coming from to ensure trustworthy brake replacements.

Two types of brakes

There are two types of brake pads on the market today: semi-metallic and ceramic.

Semi-metallic brake pads have friction quality controlled by a variety of metals such as iron, steel and alloys bound together by graphite lubricant. High-quality brakes will contain between 30% and 60% metal. Higher metal content will help dissipate heat well, have greater durability and provide more stopping power. The downside is that they create brake dust and can be noisy.

Ceramic brakes, on the other hand, are composed of dense ceramic fabric with copper fibers weaved throughout to help dissipate heat more efficiently. They were first introduced in the 1980s and have gained popularity as technology has advanced. Because they're made from a softer material, they do not wear down on the rotor as quickly as other materials. This means that they have a longer life, and create less dust and noise.

Choosing the better brake

When it comes to choosing the best brakes for a vehicle, you need to consider stopping power. While all brake pads will help the vehicle come to a stop, premium brake pads have increased force capabilities and are more durable. The major difference between economy and premium brakes is the friction layer, or the piece of the brake pad that is in contact with the rotor.

Both economy and premium brakes will help get your vehicle to slow down in time. However, if you are building a vehicle that you don't want to have to replace the pads for often, or a performance vehicle that will see a lot of braking power, it's best to choose a premium pad. Premium pads will perform more consistently for a longer period of time no matter how much pressure you put on them.

Consider how you use your brakes as well. Are you looking for a vehicle that will take you from work to home and the occasional dinner or are you looking for a performance vehicle that will travel up and down mountains and perform at high speeds? Both ceramic and semi-metallic brakes can help you feel safe and in control on the road, but premium brake pads will make a difference in the longevity of your braking system.

Greening Testing Laboratories is a fully certified brake testing lab that provides a variety of brake testing services worldwide. Contact Greening for a complimentary brake testing consultation.