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Brake Pads – What Kind Is Right For Me?

Brake Pads – What Kind Is Right For Me?

When deciding what kind of brake pads you want for your vehicle, you;;ll be making an important decision that could affect the way your car drivers, how much money you’ll spend, and the longevity of the pads themselves. When discussing brake pads, there are a few different types that are most commonly found in vehicles. 


Before we discuss what type of brake pads are best and why, we need to go over the evolution of the brake pad, the function of brake pads, how they work, and why they are imperative to the functioning of your vehicle. Brake pads provide the friction needed to slow down or stop your vehicle.

First Thing’s First – What Are Brake Pads?

You might think that the only mechanism in your car that stops your car while driving is the pedal that is right beneath your foot while driving. However, there’s a lot more to the braking system than the physical pedal right in front of you – there is an intricate system of parts that end up translating into physical force to stop the car so you can brake safely. One of these parts that are a component of the braking system is brake pads. 

Brake pads are a crucial part of the system because they contact and apply pressure and the necessary friction to a vehicle’s brake rotors. The brake rotors are an important part of the system, because the vehicle’s clamp pads clamp down on to stop the wheels from spinning. Brake rotors are just as important as brake pads in the braking function. The average cost of rotor pad replacement ranges from $406-$559. 

The combination of the brake pads applying pressure to the brake rotors, and the brake rotors clamping down on the wheels are possibly the most important function in helping slow down and stop your car. Due to how fast your car’s tires rotate on a daily basis while driving, combined with the heavier weight of your car or truck, brake pads undergo a significant amount of stress on a daily basis. 

Why Is It Important To Replace Brake Pads?

Since your brake pads can wear down over time due to the constant pressure, stress, and friction from the tire rotations and the car’s weight, you need to know when and how to replace your vehicle’s brake pads. Someone who drives through high-traffic areas typically finds their brake pads wear down quicker than those who drive in less-crowded areas or less often. Be sure to check your manual to see the recommendation for routine maintenance, which often includes brake inspections. The average cost of replacing brake pads is $235. 

Symptoms You Should Change Your Brake Pads

There are some warning signs to look out for when determining how often to change your brake pads. First, a screeching sound when applying your brakes might happen. This sound is caused by a small indicator that’s placed in your brake pad for this purpose specifically. If you hear this while braking, it’s time to take your car in for inspection. In addition, if your brakes are constantly exposed to wet or damp conditions, then a layer of dust can form on the brake pads, causing a screeching sound while you brake. If this sound disappears after you use your car a few times, then it was just a small build-up of rust or dust on the brake pad, and not a problem that requires a brake pad replacement. Brake pads are a routine replacement that you should use a trusted mechanic to carry out. 

Second, if it isn’t screeching, there might be an audible grinding while braking. If you hear a deep and low noise, this is typically a sign that the brake pads are worn away, and that your brake discs and calipers are currently rubbing against each other. This is a metal-on-metal grinding happening, which can highly damage your braking system. This problem needs to be addressed as quickly as possible in order to prevent further damage to your braking system.

Third, it might take longer for your car to come to a complete stop, since the brake pads are wearing down. Fourth, you might feel pulsations and vibrations coming through the brake pedal. In addition, the brake pedal might actually physically move closer to the floor. 

Lastly, your vehicle might have an indicator light that will come on to signal when it is time to replace your brake pads. Be sure to check your vehicle’s manual to see when and how often this usually is, and what the proper indicator looks like. If your light comes on, you’ll have to bring your car to a mechanic to shut off the light, as well as check the brake pads. Noticing these signs gives you an indication as to when your brake pads should be replaced for optimal performance. 

How Long Do Brake Pads Normally Last?

Brake pads generally last an average of 30,000-50,000 miles. However, it can vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle, the type of driving you usually do, and the driving style of the driver. If you tend to drive in urban areas with high traffic and constantly stop and start, your brake pads will wear down quicker than slower, quieter drives on a  country road. 

What Are The Different Types Of Brake Pads?

Brake pads were originally made using asbestos as the material to provide and absorb friction. This reason is due to the brake pads being exposed to a high amount of friction and a high amount of heat. Asbestos is a good choice for bringing in and dissipating heat. However, when asbestos breaks down and deteriorates, it creates dangerous and hazardous dust that can negatively affect your lungs and respiratory system. Unfortunately, brake pads create a lot of brake dust while they’re slowing or stopping, causing this dust to frequently arise, and infect your lungs. Nowadays, brake pads and other parts in the braking system are made from organic materials. We will go over the different types of brake pads and the pros and cons of each one.

Organic Brake Pads

Since asbestos has been found to be a carcinogen and long-term exposure can cause cancer, especially with the lungs, brake pads have started to be made with organic materials. Non-asbestos organic brake pads, or NAO brake pads, were designed to fill the manufacturer’s gap in this market. 

Organic brake pads are found on about 67% of vehicles sold within the United States, and are a mixture of rubber, carbon compounds, glass, Kevlar, and other parts that have been bound together with resin. Resin is a highly viscous substance that is often used for glue, to transfer stress between fibers. 

Organic Brake Pad Advantages /Pros

The organic brake pads create less dust than other brake pads, and are available to purchase at a relatively inexpensive price. Differing from performance brake pads, organic brake pads generate a moderate amount of friction – but don’t need that much heat to be present. This makes organic brake pads a good choice for drivers who use their cars for normal day-to-day activities, like driving to work, school, etc. Organic brake pads are also quieter and don’t put an extreme amount of stress on your brake rotors, which can extend the longevity of these brake mechanisms.  

Organic Brake Pad Disadvantages/Cons

Unfortunately, like every car product, there are some disadvantages that come along with organic brake pads. Since they are made of natural materials when compared to synthetic components, organic brake pads can wear down quicker than the other options, like the ceramic or metal. This means that organic brake pads have to be replaced more often, since they have a shorter lifespan. 

n addition, the organic brake pads function at an optimal level within a smaller range of temperatures. If they function best within a smaller range, they won’t perform as optimally at extreme heat or extreme cold. Organic brake pads additionally have a higher level of compressibility than the other options, meaning the driver must press down harder on the brake pedal to engage the system. Overall, there are numerous pros and cons to organic brake pads to analyze and determine if they are right for your car. 

Ceramic Brake Pads 

Ceramic brake pads are another option that can be used for your car. These pads are made from ceramic that is similar to the type you might find in pottery, but is much denser and more durable for rough use. These types of pads utilize fine copper fibers to increase their friction and ability to conduct heat efficiently. 

Ceramic Brake Pads Advantages/Pros

After being created in the mid-1980s, ceramic brake pads have been a fairly popular option for a few key reasons. First, the ceramic brake pads are quiet while using, making very low or no sound when you press down on the brake pedal. Second, when compared to organic brake pads, ceramic brake pads produce less dust. This means that over time and after prolonged use they are less likely to break down as quickly, extending the lifespan. Lastly, ceramic brake pads are more reliable and usable in a wider range of temperatures and driving conditions than organic brake pads, meaning they can withstand high heat and friction better than organic brake pads. 

Ceramic Brake Pads Disadvantages/Cons

Even though there are a few key positives with ceramic brake pads, there must be some cons associated with this type of brake pad. The main issue with the ceramic brake pad is the price – it is much higher than the organic option, and is usually the most expensive out of all of your choices. Secondly, since ceramic and copper aren’t able to absorb as much heat as other materials, more heat can slip through and transfer into the rest of the braking system inadvertently. This leads to a quicker and more extensive deterioration of the other braking components. Lastly, ceramic brake pads aren’t the best option for extreme driving conditions, like very cold conditions or extremely fast driving. 

Metallic Brake Pads

The last type of brake pad available is the semi-metallic brake pad, typically called a ‘metallic brake pad.’ Metallic pads are built using a range of 30%-70% metals, with a combination of copper, iron, steel, and other alloys used to bind them together. These metals are combined with lubricants and other fillers to create a secure and stable brake pad. The metallic brake pad compounds available on the market vary, each with their own pros and cons for varying situations and driving styles.

Metallic Brake Pads Advantages/Pros

For drivers who want a high-performance style of driving and brake pad, they usually gloss over the organic brake pads and go right to the ceramic or metallic choices. Performance-driven car owners end up choosing metallic brake pads since they offer improved braking performance in an extremely wide range of temperatures and conditions. Since metals are good at conducting heat, they are able to withstand more heat while helping the internal systems remain cool. In addition, metallic brake pads don’t compress as much as the organic option, meaning you don’t have to press as hard to engage the braking system. 

Metallic Brake Pads Disadvantages/Cons

There are some distinct disadvantages and cons of using metallic brake pads. The main issue is the metallic option tends to be noisier than the other two brake pad choices, meaning a louder drive for you. In addition to making more noise, the metallic brake pads add more wear and tear on the brake rotors, shortening the lifespan and causing repairs and replacements more often. Regarding price, metallic brake pads fall in the middle of the other two in terms of price point. Lastly, the metallic brake pads create more brake dust than both of the other two options, creating more residue in the air and within your braking system. 

What If My Brake Pads Need To Be Replaced?

If your brake pads need to be replaced, then you might not have the money or the time to get your car fixed so it can go back to working order. If you ignored your brake pad issues, the problems could have spread to the brake rotors and the rest of the braking system, causing extensive damage and an expensive repair or replacement. 

If this is the case, your best option might be to sell your car to a reputable location to earn some extra money for your next vehicle. You can sell your brake pad set before selling your car if you so choose, since a brake pad set is one of the highest-priced options to sell from your vehicle. Bring your car to CashCarsBuyer to obtain a fair quote and sell your vehicle for a great price.