Ceramic Vs. Metallic Brake Pads
Ceramic Brake Pads or Metallic Brake Pads
Which Is Better?
We are often asked about the difference between Metallic Brake Pads, and Ceramic Brake Pads, so here is a brief overview of the history, formulation, and application of friction materials. Keep in mind that every manufacturer uses their own proprietary blend of materials.
In the earliest days of friction materials, the brakes were made of asbestos fibers. They were a good material choice for the absorption and dissipation of the heat that is generated when stopping. Then in the early 70’s, due to the health risks, asbestos was replaced with both Organic and Metallic compounds.
The Organic Brake Pads are made from natural materials like glass and rubber that have been bonded together with high heat resistant resins. Many Organic formulations use Kevlar as well. They are a much softer brake pad which results in a quieter pad, but one that also wears faster and creates a lot more dust. Organic Brake Pads are best suited for light weight small cars that have limited hard stops.
Metallic pads are typically made from a mixture of iron, copper, steel, and graphite that are all bonded together. They are good at transferring the heat generated by the friction that is created from the contact with the brake rotors. Metallic pads provide good performance, and much better resistance to brake fade than Organic pads. They are also a more cost effective option. They are harder and more durable, and are the best choice for heavier vehicles. Although Ceramic has enjoyed a considerable gain in popularity over the last dozen years, Metallic remains a popular choice.
Most of today’s Metallic pads are actually Semi-Metallic Brake Pads, which are a hybrid mix of both Organic pads and Metallic pads.
Ceramic pads came along much later. They are made of stacked glass ceramic fibers, filler material, bonding agents, and small amounts of various metals. They perform much like a dual pane window, by inhibiting the heat that is generated by the pad hitting the rotor, from going back to the hydraulic or caliper system. The Ceramic pads tend to keep the brake fluid cooler then the Metallic pad does. Due to their cooling capabilities, their performance stays strong with repeated use and repeated hard stops.
There is a move in California to ban the copper and brass in the brake pads, and the ban is beginning to spread throughout the whole US. It has to do with the brake dust in the water runoff that is starting to harm the algae and other natural resources in the bays in California.
Many vehicles now come with Ceramic pads as their OE (Original Equipment) from the factory, and we always recommend that you stay with the OE manufacturers recommended friction material.
Metallic Brake Pads
o Relatively speaking, they are less expensive than the comparable ceramic brake pads.
o They are more aggressive with better bite than ceramic brake pads.
o They are available in heavier duty towing formulations, for trucks and SUV’s.
o When coupled with Drilled and Slotted Rotors they help pull heat away from the center of the braking system
o Due to their formulation they tend to generate more black dust.
o They are more abrasive than ceramic and could possibly wear through your brakes faster.
o They can be louder than ceramic brake pads.
Ceramic Brake Pads
o They dissipate heat better for non-drilled and slotted brake rotors, which creates less brake fade.
o They tend to be quieter than metallic brake pads.
o They are less abrasive, and therefore and a little easier on brake rotors.
o The dust created is lighter in color, and gives the appearance of less dust.
o They are relatively more expensive than the comparable metallic brake pads.
o They are not as aggressive as metallic brake pads, and therefore have a lighter stopping power.
o They are not recommended for track driving or for use in heavier vehicles like SUV’s and trucks. Especially when used for towing purposes.
Please keep in mind that when changing any of your brake components:
- To check the functionality of all your braking components.
- Make sure the rotor is sitting flush on a clean hub surface.
- Check the pads to make sure they fit correctly in the caliper assembly.
- Make sure the caliper piston seal is pliable and not dried out.
- Check that the piston moves freely in the caliper assembly, and lubricate the slides/pins with brake lubricant.