Brake Pads: Types, Cost, Replacement, Which is Best for Your Car?

Brakes as well brake pads are perhaps the most important safety feature in your vehicle. Without them, your vehicle relies on time to slow down. A break is a device that is used for slowing down or for completely stopping a vehicle or similar object following the same mechanism by the absorption or the transfer of the energy of the momentum generally by the means of friction.

What are Brake Pads? Definition

A disc brake is a type of brake in which pads are squeezed against a disc or a motor to create friction.

A brake pad is a component of disc brakes that are used in automobiles and other applications. The brake pad is composed of steel backing plates with friction material attached to the front of the disc brake rotor.

The brake system of an automobile, that consists primarily of brakes and brake pads and is crucial to the safety of both the driver and the passengers.

Brake pads types how often replacement buying cost which best car basics
Brake pads types how often replacement buying cost which best car basics

Fredrick William Lanchester patented the first disk brake in the year 1902 and used it in his own automobile, but it was almost 50 years later that they became a hit.

Disc brakes rely on the brake pads, caliper, and rotor to work properly. The brake pads are housed within the caliper and are what clamp down on the rotor when the brake pedal is released. The pads will wear down over time because of the friction produced on the rotor to bring the wheel to a stop.

As a whole, your brake system creates friction to slow your wheels and bring your car to a stop by converting the kinetic energy of your tires into friction. The brake pads in your vehicle create friction as they press against the braking disks in your vehicle.

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In this article, we are going to take a closer look at the variety of pads that are available to buy from the market, we are also going to discuss the merits and demerits of these brake pads and will also specify their the reader in helping them choose the best brake pad for your car and your driving style.

If you replace your brake pads before they wear out completely you will prevent damage to other critical braking components like brake calipers and rotors. You should also replace brake pads according to your vehicle’s manufacturer’s recommendations.

How Often are Brake Pads Replaced? Appropriate Time for Replacement

In most cases, automobile manufacturers recommend that you change your brake pads about every 30,000 to 40,000 miles or about every time you change your tires. Tires and brakes work together to help your vehicle stop, so it makes sense to replace your brake pads at the same time.

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It is advisable to change the brake pads before they completely wear out so that you do not have to replace your brake rotor – the part of the wheel that the brake pads contact in order to keep it in place. Brake rotors should be replaced every two or three tire changes, or 100,000 to 120,000 miles.

A few standard things to keep in mind in order to understand whether a replacement of a car’s brake pad is required or not are as follows:

Pedal Pilses of a Brake

If you feel the brake pedal pulse when pressing the brake, it’s usually a sign that the brake pads are worn out. However, this could also be a sign that the rotor is warped or the ABS system is malfunctioning, so you should get an inspection from a professional mechanic.

Squealing of the Brake

It’s possible that your brake pads have worn too thin if you hear a loud screaming noise when pressing the brake pedal. The wear bar indicates the brake pads have worn too thin when they make contact with the braking rotor. Without the pads being replaced soon after this noise is heard, the wear indicator will actually dig into the rotor, which will result in the rotor having to be replaced in most cases.

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  • Set includes pads for 1 axle (2 wheels), hardware kit (where available), and synthetic lubricant for reduced resistance on sliding contact points

Types of Brake Pads

Organic Non-Asbestos Brake Pads

Asbestos, a heat-absorbing material, was originally used to make brake pads as it could withstand the wear and tear brake pads endured. As we can decide by the name of the brake pad these pads were solely made with the use of organic materials.

Nowadays Asbestos is not used to make brake pads anymore as asbestos has been found to be a favourably potent carcinogen present in them and if a person is to be exposed to it for a long time then it may even become a cause of cancer.

organic non asbestos brake pads types
Organic non asbestos brake pads types

As a result of this realization, manufacturers created non-asbestos organic (NAO) brake pads to fill the hole left by asbestos-based brake pads.

These pads are generally softer and relatively quiet, modern Organic Brake Pads are made up of materials such as glass, rubber, fibre, kevlar and a lot of other items. These brake pads tend to produce fewer amounts of dust than other types of pads such as metallic pads.

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Organic brake pads wear out faster, leaving a large amount of brake dust behind. Non-metallic brake pads were initially made of asbestos but were quickly replaced with different compounds due to health and environmental concerns.

Because the composite is relatively soft, it wears away quickly, but is gentle on brake discs; this makes it unsuitable for anything except daily highway driving, and even there, a more metal-based pad is preferable to avoid frequent replacement.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, organic brake pads are standard on 67% of new vehicles sold within the United States, and they are built from materials such as rubber, carbon compounds, fibreglass, and Kevlar, which are bound together with resin.

Merits of Organic Non-Asbestos Brake Pads

  • These Brake Pads are very less noisy when compared to other types of brake pads.
  • Organic Non-Asbestos Brake Pads are made

Demerits of Organic Non-Asbestos Brake Pads

  • These types of Brake Pads are very much soft when compared to other brake pads.
  • They can decay more quickly than other varieties.
  • These Brake Pads are capable of generating a lot of dust.

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Ceramic Brake Pads

Ceramic Brake Pads are the best and one of the most popular types of brake pads. Additionally, they are the most expensive types of brake pads, but their price gets justified because once a consumer purchases them, they will last much longer than any other type of brake pad.

ceramic brake pads types
Ceramic brake pads types

These brake pads are made of a ceramic compound that’s great for absorbing heat as a result of continual hard braking. They are much cleaner and produce lower noise than any other materials.

The ceramic brake pads work effectively whether you are using them in cold or warm weather, and even when you are using them in endurance racing.

Clay and copper are incorporated into ceramic brake pads and are moulded into a compound for strength and longevity. Ceramic brake pads wear off much more slowly than other types, but generally, they are more expensive..

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Ceramic brake pads were first designed in the middle of the 1980s and it has been a popular choice due to the following reasons :

  • Level of Noise – Ceramic brake pads give out very little noise and create little to no excess sound when the brakes of a car are applied
  • The residue of Wear and Tear – The friction between ceramic brake pads and organic brake pads produces less dust and particles as they wear down.
  • Driving and the Temperature Conditions – Ceramic brake pads have the capability of providing better performance in a wide range of temperatures and driving conditions than organic brake pads do.

Merits Of Ceramic Brake Pads

  • They are quieter than other types of pads.
  • They degrade quite slowly and produce very little dust.

Demerits Of Ceramic Brake Pads

  • Ceramic Brake pads of this type are more expensive than most other brake pads.

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Low-Metallic Brake Pads

This type of brake pad is quite noisy, and it spews out a lot of brake dust. Their strength comes from their up to 30% metal content, such as copper or steel, which makes them efficient heat transferrers. These brakes are of an organic nature and provide outstanding performance.

low metallic brake pads types
Low metallic brake pads types

In terms of braking and thermal transfer, low-metallic brake pads are excellent, and the materials that they are made of are completely organic and offer exceptional braking capabilities.

Low-metallic brake pads are excellent when it comes to braking and heat transfer since they are made of organic materials.

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Non-Metallic Brake Pads

In contrast to other brake pads, nonmetallic brake pads are the most supple of all types, made from a combination of rubbers, resins, and glass fibres with a tiny amount of metal. This composite material will wear easily and should only be used on a regular basis.

For people who don’t put a lot of miles on their vehicles every year or drive a lot, non-metallic brake pads are not the best choice. However, for drivers who don’t drive a lot, these pads are perfect.

non metallic brake pads types
Non metallic brake pads types

Driving a lot means your brake pads must be either metal-type or you will probably have to change them more frequently if they are not.

Due to the dust created by regular organic discs, it is also very easy for other materials that are toxic to humans to settle near components located near the brakes, which is one of the reasons for the development of non-metallic brake pads.

These types of brake pads are suitable for vehicles with small brake requirements. For most drivers, organic brake pads are made of rubber or glass composites, but they tend to wear out quickly.

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In comparison to regular non-metallic brake pads, alternatives might be a bit more expensive, but they will last much longer.

Non-metallic brake pads are made from composites of rubber, resins, glass fibres, and metal fibres. These kinds of brake pads are the softest because they are made from such flexible composites.

Asbestos brake pads used to be the norm for non-metallic brake pads since they had good heat transfer properties and a good wear property, and they were cheaper than semi-metallic pads.

However, asbestos was gradually replaced by other compounds as public awareness of its hazards grew.

Most driving conditions call for a pad with a metal content or a Kevlar-based pad. Non-metallic pads should be used only with very light braking systems. Steel and Kevlar-based pads last longer and need to be replaced less often.

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Semi-metallic brake pads

Nowadays, most cars use semi-metallic brake pads. They are composed of a blend of synthetic and metal substances bound together by organic resins to produce a primarily metallic hybrid compound.

To increase durability, the compound is moulded into pre-determined forms and cured by dry heat for three to five hours.

semi metallic brake pads types
Semi metallic brake pads types

Metal and synthetic components fuse together to bring about a metallic hybrid compound.

A synthetic organic resin is used to bind the materials, and then the shapes are molded and hardened in a furnace.

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In comparison to entirely non-metallic pads, the metal in these brake pads makes them more heat and wear-resistant. The metals of choice for these pads are sintered steel, graphite, or iron because they easily transmit heat. Semi-metallic brake pads help to prolong the life of braking rotors. They also produce less dust than non-metallic pads and are more cost-effective due to their longevity.

These types of brake pads are usually made of sintered graphite, iron, or steel, and, therefore, are great for heavy vehicles and performance vehicles.

The performance levels of these types of brake pads make them an ideal choice for heavy vehicles and performance vehicles.

Due to metal’s brittleness at colder temperatures, it is difficult to apply the brakes with the same force as-synthesized brake pads that are more malleable. When metal brake pads are cold, the brakes need to be applied harder to get the same stopping force.

These brake pads also have a small disadvantage of being heavier than non-metallic or ceramic brake pads. Due to their heavier weight, brake pads with a high metal content will reduce fuel efficiency marginally. They may also be a bit louder than non-metallic or ceramic brake pads.

Their metal content can reach up to 65%, but they are noisy to operate, wear out rotors much faster than other styles of brake pads, and do not always operate well at low temperatures.

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Merits of preferring Semi-metallic brake pads are

  • They are extremely long-lasting.
  • Semi-metallic brake pads have an extreme heat transfer capacity.
  • These components are commonly found in a wide array of automobiles.

Demerits of preferring Semi-metallic brake pads are

  • These brakes tend to produce a lot of noise.
  • The performance of these semi-metallic brakes deteriorates at lower temperatures.
  • They may easily wear out your rotors.

Kevlar brake pads

You can hold Kevlar fibres in your hand and they would look like cotton candy. However, the material is much stronger than steel, and it can stop a bullet or keep brake pads together when temperatures and pressures are high.

kevlar brake pads types
Kevlar brake pads types

In brake pads, it can be used as a fibre to give them structure. Ceramic material is very expensive, but it can help extend the life of brake pads.

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Non-Asbestos Organic (NAO) Brake Pads

High-temperature fibres, resins, and fillers are used to make these types of brake pads. As a result, they are softer and quieter than semi-metallic brake pads. They also cause greater amounts of dust over time.

NAO brake pads also tend to degrade quickly, so a purchaser should carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each before making a decision.

Merits of Non-Asbestos Organic Brake Pads are

  • They are very less noisy when compared to other types of pads
  • High-quality resins & strong fibres make NAO brake pads.

Demerits of Non-Asbestos Organic Brake Pads are

  • They are more pliable than other kinds of brake pads.
  • They may decay more quickly than other varieties.
  • They have the potential to generate a lot of dust.

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Characteristics Should You Look Out for in a Brake Pad

The type of brake pad you’ll need depends on your driving style and the situation. These seven factors should be considered when purchasing new brake pads for your vehicle. High temperatures should rarely be a problem for brake pads designed for commuter cars, while high-performance brake pads operate extremely well in high temperatures

Some characteristics of brake pads that you must keep in mind are :

Type of Weather

Good brake pads should be able to perform well no matter the climate, regardless of whether it is dry, wet, muddy, warm, or cold.

Hot bite and Cold bite

You should be able to use your brake pads as intended whether they are hot or cold.

Response of Friction with the Temperature

The temperature at which the brake pad can still function safely before it disintegrates.

Rotor and Pad lifetime

Both brake pads and rotors wear over time. When engaging the brake pads, you need to consider how long the pads should last as well as how long the rotor should last.

Vibration and Noise

When pressing down on the brake pad, you’ll want to consider how much noise, vibration, and even pedal feel it will produce.

Level of specks of dust

You may accumulate dust on your brake pads, which will then adhere to your wheels.

Brake Pads Cost to Replace: Cost Factor

The majority of what you pay for when you buy a quality brake pad is research and development. Which is the same as when you buy a prescription drug.

Different Brake Pads’ cost varies on the factors like the type of brake pad, the brake pad material, and the type of car model.

Due to brake pads being customized for a specific vehicle, testing and engineering are required. A reputable brake-pad manufacturer devotes a great deal of effort and resources to creating a brake-pad application specific to your vehicle.

A large number of people and equipment are required to conduct this kind of testing both in a simulated environment and on the road.

In addition to manufacturing costs, brake pads may also be subject to quality control. Reputable manufacturers will pull samples from the production line and perform destructive testing. This expense can be substantial and may mean that the batch is rejected.

Almost all brake-pad lines have marketing costs associated with them. However, if a company is willing to advertise their brake pads, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll stand behind the brand as well.

Innovation of Brake Pad design

In order to meet the needs of practically every type of vehicle, brake pads come in different forms. The friction materials used on the pads are also different from car to car.

In some shops, a brake job can be viewed as a sales driver because it can help generate other sales. Brake jobs are viewed by some shops as loss leaders that can facilitate future sales.

The original brake pad may have gone through procedures that cannot be replicated. Even if the process can be easily replicated, the technology is protected by a patent. Brake pads are one of the few automotive components that cannot be replicated solely by physical measures.

Manufacturers of aftermarket brake pads sometimes produce pads that outperform the originals.  Ultimately, the aftermarket will win out. As a brake pads maker, you may be able to observe how a braking system performs in the field under real-life conditions. The formula for brake pads is also continuously being updated. In order to function correctly, the original pad for a 2012 Corvette would only work with technology from that year. Technology from 2021 may be used in brake pads for the 2012 Corvette. In the long run, brake pads will become more reliable as a vehicle age since the manufacturer has more real-world data on actual miles a vehicle has driven.

Longevity of Break Pads

There are pads on the market that promise more miles than others, however, you cannot know for sure if one will last longer than another. Brake pads wear out over time. How fast they wear out depends more on the driver and the vehicle than on the friction-material formulation.

More than any other element, the replacement of hardware and refinishing of the rotor will help the brake pad last longer. These components will help the brake pad last longer than any other factor.

As a consequence of corrosion, brake pads may also last shorter. Corrosion can affect the backing plate and cause the friction material to delaminate. When the friction material separates from the backing plate, noise may also appear.

Some pads have a galvanized backing plate and mechanical connection to prevent this from occurring in case the friction material escapes from the caliper. If the piston extends too far, the piston might rupture.

Universality of Break Pads

Vehicle brake pads do not come in a universal size or shape. Each vehicle type has a specific requirement for the size and shape of brake pads.

You will need to find the specific shape and size of brake pads that are right for your vehicle’s braking system when choosing brake pads to replace your old ones.

If you need to replace any type of component in your car, it can be both frustrating and stressful to find the right pieces that will fit correctly and work for the purpose for which they were designed. To ensure your car’s brakes are safe and function properly, you must choose the right brake pads.

A car’s brakes operate by using friction between the interior parts of the vehicle to bring it to a complete halt.

Break pads are not universal and cannot be interchangeable amongst cars. They must fit as an individual size of the vehicle’s braking system and each and every model are going to need a specific brake pad type and size.

Because brake pads are not universal for every car model, and deciding which pad is best for your car requires a detailed process, you are probably interested in learning more about how to choose brake pads for your car.

Things to Consider while Buying a Brake Pad

There are some crucial things that you need to keep in mind if you are in the market to buy break pads are listed below.

Always go and buy products of a trusted brand

A cheap aftermarket brake pad manufacturer can cost you your life. You should avoid compromising on replacement brake pads made by a below-par brand.

Always check the warranty

Manufacturers (or retailers selling brake pads) often offer warranties for their products. Although brake pads are designed to wear out eventually, warranties are usually an indication of quality when it comes to an aftermarket component.

Always look properly for Certifications

Aftermarket brake pads are typically certified against three different criteria. The first is Differential Effectiveness Analysis (D3EA), and the second is Brake Effectiveness Evaluation Procedures (BEEP).

What Brake Pads are Best? Types – Selecting the Right One

Light Compact Cars

In the case of a light compact automobile, organic brake pads will suffice. They are affordable, quiet, and provide sufficient braking power. If you notice a lot of dust in the braking region, ceramic brake pads may be the best option for you.

Average-Sized Cars

Low-metallic NAO brake pads are needed on most midsize vehicles because of their size, which requires more stopping power. Low-metallic NAO brake pads may be loud, but if that concerns you, ceramic brake pads may be more suitable.

Sports Cars

If you have any vehicle that goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in a very less amount of time then semi-metallic brake pads are perfect for most sports cars, since they are able to travel from 60 to no speed in record time. With a car like this, you simply need high-quality brake pads.

Vans/Trucks and SUVs

All vans, SUVs, and trucks need heavy-duty brake pads because of their weight and the need for maximum stopping power. Brake pads made from semi-metallic compounds or containing a significant amount of metal are ideal.

You need to keep in mind that they might be a little noisy, but they are necessary for your safety. Your brake pads need to be made from more metal to be able to provide the braking force.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do All Boxes of Brake Pads Come With Hardware

Certain brake pad manufacturers may include extra hardware to guarantee that the brake pad functions at its best. Most disc brake pad packages have four pads (two pads on each side of the car).
Some manufacturers add special lubricants to minimize the chance of a client returning with a noise complaint. These devices include anti-rattle clips, noise-reducing shims, wear sensors, and noise-reduction shims.
In order to maximize profit and be the lowest-priced item on store shelves, some brake pad manufacturers leave these components out of their packages.

Do you need new brake rotors if the brake pads are being replaced?

The answer to the question is both yes and no. There is no correlation between brake pads and rotors. Some brake pads deposit a very thin coating of friction material onto the rotor’s surface.
Moreover, the transfer layer cannot be removed with water or wheel cleaners, as it has been bonded to the surface of the rotor. Ceramic and NAO pads use a similar method of friction.
It can only be removed by using a brake lathe. The old transfer layer may contaminate the new brake pads.
The new brake pads will form an even transfer layer on a smooth rotor surface if the rotor surface is clean. Conversely, contamination might result in noise or longer stopping distances.

What are the causes of Brake noise?

Brake noise is the number one problem all prominent manufacturers and automakers are trying to solve. There are three main types of brake noise frequencies, which are influenced by materials, driving conditions, and a number of different sources.
Any manufacturer who claims to offer a noise-free brake pad is outright misleading you. Instead, they strive to achieve an ideal balance between pad life, loudness, and dust buildup.
As a part of some noise-cancelling techniques, manufacturers also use shims. Shims reduce vibration and noise when driving, making it a more pleasant experience.

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