Ceramic vs. Metallic Brake Pads

The braking system of a vehicle is perhaps, one of the vastest and complicated networks in a car. By a distance, the brakes of a car are the most crucial safety feature of any vehicle. They provide safe stopping power and are critical to how effective your vehicle stops are.

Whether you are moving at 120 km/h or even more, at a point, you need to be able to slow down, especially when making turns. This is where brakes come in. They create the necessary friction that rubs against the rotor, which forces your car to stop when you apply the brakes.

Unfortunately for brake pads, they are susceptible to wear. The next option would be to replace it. But what if you don’t know the type of brakes that is suitable for your car. In this article, we shall be looking at ceramic vs. metallic brake pads and how a brake pad evolved.

What are brake pads?

Brakes or brake pads are responsible for the stopping of your vehicle when you mount on the brake pads. As you mount on the brake pedal, the brake pads press against the rotors. Your car pushes the brake fluid into the wheels through the brake lines. The brake pads then create the friction that slows down the tires and, eventually, the vehicle until it comes to a stop.


Origin of brake pads

Initially, brake pads were made from asbestos. Asbestos is heat-absorbing materials that were considered perfect because of their durability and inexpensive nature. Unfortunately, asbestos was discovered to cause health and environmental problems.


Asbestos brake pads contained carcinogens, a potent substance that causes cancer. Once asbestos brake pads would wear down, they release asbestos that is stuck in the tires to the atmosphere, which is toxic. Several manufacturers discovered this and decided to look for other friction materials as alternatives. As a result, this led to the creation of organic brake pads.


Organic brake pads, also known as Non-Asbestos Pads, are pads made of materials like Kevlar, rubber, carbon, glass, or fiberglass, mixed with a resin that binds them together. Organic brake pads generate less dust and friction, soft and gentle on the brake system, which makes them suitable for cars that are used for normal driving.


At one time, they were the manufacturer's choice for most cars used in the US. However, the downside of this type of brake pad is they wear out quickly, which makes them non-durable. They don't work well in extreme temperatures, and when they are pushed hard, they tend to overheat.


They have a high level of compressibility, which means that you have to press the brakes hard to engage them.


Ceramic brake pads

Ceramic brake pads were developed in the mid-1980s. Since then, they have been growing in popularity because of their durability. Ceramic brake pads are made from ceramic materials. When it comes to friction and heat conductivity, this type of brake pad is best. Ceramic brakes have copper fibers and a dense ceramic compound that aid in the increase of heat conductivity and friction.


The copper fibers and ceramic compounds are the features that make this type of brake pad to handle high brake temperatures with less heat fade, produce less dust, and provide faster recovery after the stop. Ceramic brake pads are the most expensive brake pads and the most durable. They are gentle on the brake system, yet they are firm and don't have a high level of compressibility, unlike organic brake pads.


Metallic brake pads

Metallic or semi-metallic brake pads are brake pads that consist of about 70% of metals, including copper, iron, steel, and other metallic alloys. These materials are combined with lubricants like graphite and fillers to make up the composition of the brake pad.

Ceramic vs. Metallic Brake Pads


Ceramic brake pads may have all the good qualities of a brake pad, but not without its shortcomings. Let us look at the pros and cons of ceramic brake pads.

Pros

  • They are quiet.
  • Durable.
  • It generates less dust and handles high brake temperatures.
  • Cleaner than its counterparts.

Cons

  • They tend to be expensive.
  • Cause wear on rotors that do heavy-towing.

Metallic or semi-metallic brake pads, on the other hand, are better in some areas than ceramic brake pads. Let us look at the pros and cons of metallic brake pads.

Pros

  • Excellent for use in a cold climate
  • Inexpensive when compared to ceramic brake pads
  • Wears less on rotors
  • Suitable for heavy-duty towing and racing tracks

Cons

  • It’s loud.
  • Has a short life span
  • Generates dust

Generally, ceramic brake pads are suitable for urban commuting. If you intend to use your vehicle frequently and in a warmer climate, ceramic brake pads are best used. But if you want to use your vehicle more for towing and track racing, ceramic brake pads may not be the best. That is because they don't offer better braking performance on a broader range of temperatures. This is where the metallic or semi-metallic brake pad is the winner.

Because metals are good conductors of heat, metallic brake pads can withstand heat on a higher level compared to ceramic brake pads - which means you can drive with them in frigid temperatures. They also help the braking system to cool down more quickly at the same time because they absorb heat. So in terms of heat conduction and cooling, metallic brake pads are best. If you need brake pads for your high-performance cars, semi-metallic brake pads are better.

However, that doesn't mean that metallic brake pads are head and shoulder ahead of ceramic brake pads. The loud noise it produces is a big con, which puts more pressure and wears on the rotors. Ceramic brake pads might be more expensive than metallic brake pads, but they could be an alternative if you just want your vehicle to do the basic running around.

If you don't mind the loud noise, you could go for metallic brake pads. However, if you cherish durability and quietness, ceramic brake pads are the ideal type of brake pads.

Ceramic or Semi Metallic Brake Pads on Your Vehicle?

Ceramic vs. Metallic Brake Pads FAQs

Are ceramic or metallic brake pads better?

Ceramic brake pads can handle higher brake temperatures, generate less dust, and are quiet due to the ceramic compounds and copper fiber that lines the inside of the brake pad.

Do ceramic brake pads wear rotors faster?

No, they don't. Ceramic brake pads are made of copper fibers and ceramic compounds that allow them to handle high brake temperatures, promote faster recovery after the stop, and generate less dust. These results to less wear on the rotors and the pads.

What type of brakes is best?

Based on available facts, ceramic brake pads are the best. They handle high brake temperatures and are the best in terms of generating less dust, which leads to less wear on rotors and pads. Organic brake pads come second, while semi-metallic brake pads come third.

Are metallic brake pads good?

Metallic brake pads are good at transferring the heat generated by friction and provide excellent performance. They are also cost-effective and durable, which makes them good.

How long do ceramic brake pads last?

Ceramic brake pads can last up to 70,000 miles. Some manufacturers may recommend more.

Do ceramic brake pads squeak?

The squeaking sound you hear in ceramic brake pads is due to the vibration of the back of the brake pad against the calipers. If you don't use a brake lining shim or don't put enough anti-brake squeal lubricant on the back of the brake pads, the squeaking sound will never stop.

Which brake pads last longer ceramic or semi-metallic?

It depends on the type of car. Manufacturers do not recommend ceramic brake pads for heavy towing vehicles or racing cars. Although they are quieter and cleaner than semi-metallic brake pads, they can cause more wear on your rotor if they are misused. Apart from these, ceramic brake pads last longer than semi-metallic brake pads.

Why are carbon-ceramic brakes so expensive?

Carbon-ceramic brakes can withstand a lot of heat more than their counterparts. That is why they are so expensive.

Do carbon-ceramic brakes wear out?

Carbon-ceramic brakes are designed to last for the vehicle's entire lifetime, unlike the majority of its counterparts. The silicon carbide's crystalline molecular structure is the reason for its durability.

How much does it cost to replace ceramic brakes?

The average cost for ceramic brakes replacement can range from $100 to $200 per axle, depending on how good the rotors and calipers are. If rotors and calipers are to be serviced, the cost could be as high as $300 per axle. Other than that, the most common practice is just to replace the brake pads.

Final Words

It is always tricky trying to choose the best type of brake pads for your vehicle. Most times, the best choice of brake pads depends on the style of the driver and model of vehicle. So if you know what you want, selecting the right brake pads will not be so complicated.

Brake pads are essential in a vehicle - and the type you use is even more critical. In this ceramic vs. metallic brake pads review, we have been able to state the pros and cons of each type of brake pads and why you should consider choosing them. Overall, there are the two types of brake pads you can see anywhere in the world.

John
 

John D. Archer is a mechanical engineer and writer based on the area of automotive accessories at brakeshub.com, A resident expert and professional, John is passionate about all things automotive and loves to share his knowledge. He has good experience in all kind of automotive accessories. He has worked as a chief mechanical engineer in some reputed automotive garage firm.

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