Brake Repair - Comparing Different Disc Pads
Replacing disc pads is the most common brake repair, but few drivers understand the differences in the products available. There are four main types of pads available and all are not equal.
In the past, pads consisting of asbestos were one of only two options for drivers. Once asbestos was deemed a health hazard, however, they had to be replaced with an alternative that had the same heat absorbing qualities. Non-asbestos pads consist of a mixture of various materials including glass, Kevlar, resins, carbon, and rubber. They are safe to use but some believe that they are more prone to wear and dust creation. Non-asbestos pads are suitable for people who don't clock too many miles on their vehicle in the course of a year. Instead of non-asbestos, some brake repair specialists may refer to these as "organic."
Like non-asbestos, these types of disc pads are comprised of various materials. Metal makes up only a partial portion of the pads and the remaining is filled with bits of copper, steel wool, wire, graphite, and other filler. In order to bond all particles together, friction modifiers are used. The clear advantage is that they last longer than non-asbestos and can handle heat. However, some drivers complain that they can emit excessive noise and don't work as well in the cold. They may also contribute to faster deterioration of the rotors. These types of disc pads are suitable for larger trucks that require more muscle to stop.
If you're not a metal head, low-metallic pads only contain 30% or less of steel or copper. Less metal allows for better heat transfer and smoother braking. The rest of the pad is made of an organic mixture, which means it is somewhat of a cross between the semi-metallic and non-asbestos varieties. Because the metal content is fairly low compared to that of semi-metallic pads, there is a decreased level of noise and dust. If you drive a fairly light vehicle, but tend to go for long distances, it may be beneficial to choose these over non-asbestos for greater durability.
The most expensive of the four materials are ceramic pads. There's little to no metal in the mixture. Instead, the pads are made of ceramic fibers and other bonding agents. They are colored fairly light, which causes less grime to accumulate on the tires. While the price is high, they come with several benefits including greatly reduced dust and noise with little friction against the rotors, meaning less wear and tear. If you can afford it, ceramic pads are the most durable and high performing of all the materials available. You may be able to source cheaper ceramic pads from the Internet rather than relying on what is supplied by a brake repair shop.
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