Ceramic sounds cool, it is used on the space shuttle after all! Semi-metallic on the other hand seems a bit of old technology. Which is best for you? We’ll try to answer that question and break-down the pros and the cons of each in the simplest possible way.
Overall, we believe that in almost all instances, semi-metallic pads are the best and most economical choice for a street driven car. Whatever pad you use, good god man, don’t go cheap …use a high quality pad! The rule of all rules.
Ceramic: A pad for women & girly-men.
We don’t mean to be sexist or stereotypical….just tongue-in-cheek. Ceramic pads produce less brake noise, less dust and less braking power & initial bite. They are perfect for your persnickety spouse or significant other that is concerned about brake noise & squeal.
You will hear from ceramic brake pads manufacturers claims that ceramic superior are superior to semi-metallic. Of course they are going to say that! Ceramic pads have made evolved quite a bit from their initial introduction but there are still some generalizations which should make them the lesser choice.
The big problem with ceramic pads is that they rough on rotors. Ceramic pads hold less heat. Sounds good right? Wroooong! Rotors end up taking this heat and end up taking a great portion of the breaking load. As a result you can expect more abrasion/wear on rotors. And one thing we know for sure, is that rotors are more expensive than pads. So although ceramic pads last longer, the total cost is effectively higher when you consider rotor longevity.
Semi-Metallic: Manly pads for saving money.
If you can’t tell already, we believe semi-metallic pads are the best choice for street driven vehicles. They are noiser, they are dustier…but deal with it..semi-metallic is better. For the highest performance on the street, you should use semi-metallic pads. They give you the greatest amount of friction & initial bite, as well as transferring heat energy effectively & proportionally. Semi-metallic pads are kinder & gentler to rotors and thus the overall cost is lower than ceramic when you consider rotor longevity.
For SUV, small trucks and service vehicles, semi-metallic pads are a must.
All of this is all over-simplified of course for the sake of avoiding a drawn out manifesto on everything brake pad relate and boring you. And the opinions expressed are simply our own. Do ceramic pads have a place on your car? Probably, maybe, possibly…..
And finally, a note of caution. Contrary to popular belief, asbestos has not been totally eliminated from brake pads and other friction materials such as clutches. Up until 2003 it wasn’t that uncommon. So when doing the pad replacement, take care not to blow brake dust everywhere. Even if they don’t contain asbestos (which is likely they won’t)…inhaling brake dust isn’t really a good thing!
For futher information on brake pads and an “unbiased” or slightly more favorable opinion on ceramic pads, check out this recent Consumer Reports article http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/01/brake-pads-what-to-look-for/index.htm