May 19 2011

What are brake pads?

Category: Automotive


Brake PadsFor the average automobile with disc brakes, brake pads perform a simple yet critical function. They are mainly used to create friction, enough friction to stop a two ton moving object. Brake pads are housed within the brake caliper and are, one of many, components of a car that are used to slow it down. Every wheel or rotor (brake disc) will have one caliper and at least two brake pads which are activated by applying pressure to the hydraulic braking system. The caliper squeezes the two pads together onto the rotor which should provide enough friction to stop the car. Be sure to also visit, why do my brakes squeak?

There are four types of brake pads on the market. The most common brake pad types include:

  • Semi-metallic brake pads: Manufactured with a mix of metal and graphite. They are durable but tend to wear down rotors. Since they are partly made of metal, they can be noisy.
  • Organic brake pads: Made from organic fibers, like glass, rubber, carbon, and Kevlar. They are usually softer and produce less noise but wear faster.
  • Low-metallic NAO brake pads: Made from organic compounds mixed with small amounts of metal.
  • Ceramic brake pads: Made from ceramic fibers and small amounts of metal. Usually cleaner and quieter without wearing down the rotors. Also more expensive.

The friction materials used to manufacture brake pads have evolved significantly over the years and the type you choose will ultimately affect noise levels, wear, dust, and braking performance.

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