The next time you take your car in for brake service, ask the auto shop about the types of brake pads they offer. Most places use a standard brake pad, but there are several types available. Each has their own benefit and you may find that something other than the standard pad works better for you. Here are the different brake pad choices you'll have for your car.
Semi-Metallic Brake Pads
These are the standard pads installed by most brake shops. They are constructed by embedding small pieces of metal into a resin base. The common metals used are steel, copper, iron and graphite. The pad may contain a combination of metals, and the size of the metal pieces can vary. The least expensive pads use large pieces while the more expensive pads have finer metal pieces.
These brake pads need to be warmed up slightly before they reach peak performance. They are good for normal driving conditions, but if you haul heavy loads or tow a trailer, you'll need to make sure your brakes are warmed up before going down steep grades.
These pads are the noisiest of the types of brake pads and they leave a fine black dust on the brakes, wheels and other car surfaces. The dust may be a distraction on luxury vehicles.
Non-Asbestos Organic (NAO) Brake pads
These pads do not use metal pieces but rely on rubber, glass and Kevlar fibers embedded in the resin. These are quieter brake pads but still produce a fine dust. They have a softer touch when braking and do not need to be warmed up as much as the semi-metallic pads, making them better for towing or heavy cars and trucks.
These are good pads for the demands of the stop-and-go traffic in an urban setting. They are more expensive than the semi-metallic pads and they do need replacing more frequently than other pads.
These brake pads combine the benefits of semi-metallic and NAO pads. The metal mixed with the NAO materials gives the brake pad a firmer touch and helps to dissipate heat from the brakes. This makes them good for frequent trips down long, steep grades where a lot of braking is done. These pads also work well in a wider range of temperatures.
These pads are noisier and produce more dust than the standard NAO pads. They are a more expensive brake pad than the semi-metallic or NAO, but they last longer.
Ceramic Brake Pads
Small ceramic fibers embedded in resin make up these brake pads. These pads produce very little dust and are the most quiet of the brake pads available. This makes them a good choice for luxury cars and city driving. These are the most expensive of the brake pads. They last longer than other pads, but they do wear out the rotors faster.
If you're not sure which brake pads are best suited for your needs, speak with an auto service expert like those at Buettner Tire & Auto.