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What are Ceramic Brake Pads?

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  • Written By: Jeremy Laukkonen
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2016
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Ceramic brake pads are typically used to aid in stopping the motion of a variety of different vehicles. This is typically accomplished by using a hydraulic caliper to pinch a metal rotor between the pads. A variety of different materials have been used to make brake pads, including organic and semi-metallic components. Stopping characteristics like wear patterns, heat generation, and noise can vary from one manufacturer to another, though ceramic generally offers good performance in each category. Ceramic brake pads may be considered as high performance, and may be priced accordingly.

A number of different factors can be examined when choosing a brake pad material. Semi-metallic pads may tend to wear slowly, though they can create excess noise and heat that may warp brake rotors or even cause them to wear out prematurely. Organic brake pads may be quieter, but often tend to wear quickly and create a large amount of dust. Asbestos can offer superior braking qualities, though pads using potentially dangerous materials may be banned in some locations. Ceramic typically offers good noise suppression, dissipates heat well, and does not wear out quickly.

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Though many brake pad manufacturers offer a ceramic product, each one may use a different formula. Some companies also offer multiple different ceramic options, each one with its own characteristics. Different ceramic brake pad formulations may offer varying levels of dusting, resistance to fade, or heat dissipation. Other high performance brake pads may make use of components such as aramid fibers, which can add additional heat resistance to the mix.

The different types of material commonly used to create brake pads can sometimes be associated with different price ranges. Those made of organic and semi-metallic ingredients are often less expensive than pads made of ceramics. Brake pad manufacturers will often have several product lines, each offering a different pad material and pricing structure. Ceramic brake pads are often in the high end range, due to the higher level of performance associated with them.

Though ceramic brake pads may offer good noise reduction, there are a number of other factors that can impact brake performance. Proper lubrication and shim installation may also cut down on noise. Even expensive ceramic brake pads can squeak if there is a badly lubricated or improperly installed shim present. Excessive brake wear may also be the result of a poorly lubed or malfunctioning caliper. Though ceramic brake pads can offer good wear characteristics, a sticking caliper piston may shorten their operational lifespan.

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