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Brake Pads 101: Why are Brake Pads Shaped Like That?

There is much to consider in the engineering of modern cars. This is true for all the parts in your vehicle no matter how big or small they are. Knowing that there is a reason why parts are made the way they are, you may still ask, “but why are brake pads shaped like that?” The shape of the brake pads helps resist vibrations in the brake pads. The brake pads are shaped the way they are for consistent braking purposes. In this article, your query “Why are brake pads shaped like that?” will be answered. Aside from that, you will learn about the different parts of the brake pads, their purposes, and the differences between brake pads. For the curious mind, brake pads may look a bit weird or off. Keep reading to learn the answer to the question “Why are brake pads shaped like that?” and many more.

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What do brake pads do?

Why are brake pads shaped like that? To answer this main question, you must know first what brake pads are made to do. All car components have their purpose that also indicates their make. Car parts are manufactured in the best way that they can fulfill their purposes optimally. This means that the shape and form of all car components are designed to satisfy vehicle needs.


As the name suggests, brake pads are there to aid the braking system. If you look at the system surrounding the brake pads, you will recognize the rotors which are fastened directly to the wheels. The rotors are needed to slow down your car. The brake pads are the ones responsible for applying pressure onto the rotors. Once pressure is applied by the brake pads to the rotors, there is friction that helps slow down the rotors and will eventually stop the car from moving.

What are parts of your brake pads?

Now that you know why your car needs brake pads, you have a wider perspective on why brake pads are shaped like that. In this section, we will introduce you to the different parts of the brake pads. This will be very helpful when the time comes that you need to replace or fix components. The brake pads belong to the group of components in your car that could easily experience wearing. Since the brake pads are used most often, it is expected for you to maintain them as best as you can. This list of parts will aid you in keeping your brake pads working at their best.


  1. Chamfers
    Brake pad chamfers work as controllers for the brake pads. Most brake pads, not all, come together with chamfers. Chamfers help in keeping the brake pads in their proper shape as it makes up for any flex or dent in the pad. With the chamfers, it is easier to apply the brake pads into the car rotors.
  2. Brake pad slots
    Brake pad slots are also known as the brake pads channels. These slots serve two purposes. The first and main function of the slots is to change the primary frequency of the brake pads. Slots do this by dividing the friction into smaller parts or components. The other function of brake pad slots is to let out gasses from the pad. Additionally, the brake pad slot gives the brake pads more protection from excess vibration. There are different types of slots that you can get for your pads. Refer to the manufacturer’s manual to know which type of slot to get for your vehicle.
  3. Brake pad backing plates
    This part of the brake pads contribute most to the shape of the pads. Brake pad backing plates also help reduce noise when you step on the brakes. If you wonder why brake pads are shaped like that, the backing plates have a lot to do with that. Brake pads are designed differently depending on the manufacturer of your vehicle. The same goes with the backing plates. Some manufacturers make thicker backing plates.

These are the most basic parts you can find in your brake pads. It is a good thing that brake pads have fewer components compared to other car parts. If you find that your brake pads are not working properly, you may inspect the chamfers, backing plates, and the slots. Make sure to include the brake pads when you bring your car for tune ups. The brake pads are susceptible to wear and tear since it is a crucial component frequently used. There may arise more complications if you keep the brake pads unchecked or if you do not replace your worn brake pads.

How to visually inspect brake pads?

In the previous section, you have been informed that it is normal to replace brake pads more often than you replace other car components. The best time to inspect your brake pads is when they are cool. At least wait for an hour after you stopped driving before you inspect the brake system. If you hear weird noises coming from your vehicle or if you are having trouble slowing down your car, damaged brake pads are very likely. You may also need to look into the brake fluid. Sometimes, old brake fluid is actually the one causing problems and not the brake pads. You will know that your car is running on old brake fluid if it has a very dark color. Pour in fresh brake fluid immediately

What are the different kinds of brake pads?

Thanks to the advancements in this modern era, drivers can now choose from various materials such as metallic, ceramic, and organic brake pads. What brake pads are made of can also determine the reason why brake pads are shaped like that. A certain brake pad shape is also affected by its composition. Here are the different kinds of brake pads you can choose from and you might as well know why brake pads are shaped like that.


  • Carbon-metallic brake pads

Carbon-metallic is a durable material that is excellent for reducing the friction of the brake pads. Needless to say, carbon-metallic brake pads are long-lasting and are good for daily driving. You might ask why are brake pads shaped like that? Well, when it comes to carbon-metallic brake pads, it is always for the reduction of friction. This type of brake pad is also resilient in different temperatures. You do not have to worry about damages to the brake pad caused by overheating if you are using a carbon metallic brake pad.



  • Semi-metallic brake pads

One of the most well-known types of brake pad is the semi-metallic. As its name states, it is not entirely metal but most of its parts are metallic. These brake pads consist of 30 to 70 percent metal and other metal-based materials such as copper, steel, iron, and alloy compounds. These materials are then mixed with lubricants to make them hard enough and fill in gaps and this step is crucial for why brake pads are shaped like that.



  • Leather brake pads

This type of brake pad is now hard-to-find because most are made from metallic or ceramic materials. Leather brake pads were originally created for the Mercedes Benz as a patent for their automobile. However, due to technological advancements, other types of brake pads emerged especially during the late 19th century up to the present.


  • Organic brake pads

Organic brake pads are reliable and they are made of different compounds that are readily found in nature. Usually, why brake pads are shaped like that is determined by the materials used and so is the condition with organic brake pads. Matter is mixed together to form the brake pads. Included in the mixture are rubber, carbon, and fiberglass. These substances are then compacted together with the use of resin to make a durable brake pad that is good for everyday driving. The number one advantage of this type of brake pad is its noise-reduction. The brake is quiet unlike other types of pads.


  • Ceramic brake pads

You may still be wondering why brake pads are shaped like that. Well, ceramic brake pads also have features of their own that affect the overall shape of the brake pad. Ceramic brake pads also make use of copper which are implanted within the material to make it more hardwearing. This type of brake pad is usually denser compared with the organic brake pads which creates a high friction conductivity. Another admirable thing about ceramic material which conditions why brake pads are shaped like that is that it is reliable in different driving conditions and temperatures.



What type of brake pad should I use?

A few qualities you must consider in finding what type of brake pad you should use may be the durability of the brake pad, its noise resistance, friction conductivity, and temperature conductivity. While these are just some things to consider in choosing what brake pad to use, you can formulate your own questions. Questions like why brake pads are shaped like that is a good start.


Nothing beats research when trying to find the perfect brake pads for your car. Considering why brake pads are shaped like that, or what materials the brake pads were made of can truly make an impact on your decision making. It is best to have a criteria for what type of brake pad you would want for your car. Of course, careful thinking about your needs when driving is a must for you to find the best brake pad for your car. Some kinds of brake pads are strictly compatible with specific purposes. Take a look at the following to know what can work best for your car.


  • Examine why brake pads are shaped like that or the way they are

Asking why brake pads are shaped like that will lead you to discover the materials used for its purposes, so this is a crucial inquiry when choosing brake pads. The sizes and shapes of brake pads are not universal so you must pick what makes you feel most comfortable when driving.


  • Find out how much dust the brake pads collect

You frequently step on the brakes when driving so it is only natural for it to collect dust. However, some materials accumulate less dust than others so you must keep an eye on those types of brake pads because they will be good for your wheels. Choose a brake pad that is made of materials that can be easily cleaned. You can also tell what brake pads will pass this criteria once you know why brake pads are shaped like that.

  • Consider how much noise or vibration the brake pad can cause

Your car creates noise as well as vibrates when you step on the brakes. Brake pads that cause loud noises or vibrate too much is a total turn off when choosing one for your car. Stick to the ones that allow smooth driving. Ceramic brake pads meet this criteria.


  • Review how long the brake pads will last

Since brake pads play a critical role to your safety, it is important that you know how long their life span is. You must be aware of how many miles it would take before it is reasonable to expect some issues with your brake pads. Reasons behind why brake pads are shaped like that are also factors for how long they would last. Endeavor to choose a brake pad that is both durable and easy to maintain so it could last for longer.


  • Know what kind of conditions the brake pads are or are not suitable with

This is one of the most important factors you must consider. The purpose of your brake pad must be clear. If you only need one for daily driving then organic or semi-metallic brake pads can be suitable for this kind of activity. However, if you are on a trip and will be driving on rough roads, you must use a brake pad that has a stronger bite to your brakes as well as one that can endure changes in temperature and rugged conditions.


All in all, brake pads are involved in the systems of your car that keeps you safe. You must take care to use the type of brake pads that match your driving needs. Since there are a variety of brake pads to choose from, it is best to carefully consider what will work excellently for your car. This guide has provided you with everything you need to know from why brake pads are shaped like that to the aspects of brake pads that you must examine for a careful consideration of what to use for your car. With these, you surely are more than prepared to make a choice.

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