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A Beginner's Guide to Buying Brake Pads

A Beginner's Guide to Buying Brake Pads

Of all the components in your vehicle, brake pads are vital for a safe ride. These essential parts help slow down or stop your car by applying friction and pressure to your brake rotors. It's crucial that your brake pads don't wear down to the point where they can damage other pieces in your brake system. Before you make a decision, here are the types of brake pads and important features to consider.

brakes buying guide

Types of Brake Pads

Semi-Metallic Brake Pads

Semi-metallic brake pads are one the oldest and most common varieties on the market. They're made of various metal components and can handle high heat transfer, making them a very durable option.


  • Pad construction - Semi-metallic brake pads are constructed of various metal components like steel wool and copper, which are bonded together using inorganic fillers.
  • Handles high pressure and temperatures - The steel wool and copper construction in these models can handle the high heat transfer that occurs frequently in the brake system. Cars have brake systems that deal with high pressure and temperature, especially in front-wheel drive vehicles.


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semi-metallic brake pads

organic brake pads

Organic Brake Pads

Organic brake pads, also known as non-asbestos organic (NAO) brake pads, are made of organic materials. These models were created to replace asbestos-lined pads, which were common in early automobiles.


  • Pad construction - These options are made with non-asbestos, organic materials like resin, glass and rubber. This soft construction creates smooth braking and limits noise you might hear in metallic models.
  • Works best with small passenger vehicles - Organic brake pads work well with small or mid-size cars. The soft materials are best suited to handle the lightweight construction of these vehicles.


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Ceramic Brake Pads

Ceramic brake pads have a ceramic composition that creates smooth braking on rough surfaces or in extremely warm or freezing temperatures.


  • Pad construction - These types of brake pads are made mostly of ceramic fibers blended with small traces of non-metallic materials.
  • Creates less noise - Ceramic brake pads are typically quieter and more durable than their metallic counterparts. Since they're constructed of soft materials, they don't wear out rotors as much as other models, which limits noisiness.
  • Produces minimal amounts of brake dust - Most models produce an abundant amount of dust, which can be difficult to clean off your wheels. Ceramic pads are made of materials that don't generate lots of dust, and when they do, it's colorless and easy to clean.


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ceramic brake pads

low metallic organic brake pads

Low-Metallic Organic Brake Pads

Low-metallic organic brake pads are a mixutre of semi-metallic and ceramic models, helping handle heat transfer effectively.


  • Pad construction - These models, also known as low-metallic non-asbestos organic brake pads, blend organic materials and small amounts of metals.
  • Ideal in high-performance vehicles - Low-metallic organic materials are perfect to use in high-performance sports cars. While these pads are made of organic materials, the small traces of metal help with high heat transfer that comes from traveling at high speeds.


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