Trustworthy Advice:
What brake pads are the best?


What’s in a brake pad? Your safety and security for one. Cars need to do two things more than anything else, start and stop, and the pads on your front wheel disc brakes make sure your car stops moving when you want it to. But what’s in a brake pad? Why are they so important, and why do we have so many different types?

  • What is a brake pad?

    Brake pads use friction to stop your vehicle. They rest inside a caliper and clamp on the brake rotor as a reaction to pressure you apply through the brake pedal. This clamping on the rotor creates friction, which slows and stops the rotor, the wheel and the vehicle. This friction generates heat and “dust,” tiny shavings of the pad that come off when the brakes are applied. Modern pads are typically made from a semi-metallic or ceramic compound, and carry a few differentiating features like slots and chamfers.

Types of Brake Pads

  • Semi-metallic Brake Pads

    The most common and most versatile pad, semi-metallic pads are made from a 30-60% metal by weight composition that includes other materials such as graphite lubricant. Semi-metallic or Semi-met pads are excellent performers under pretty much any weather condition, and provide a firm braking feel. Because they come in a lot of compound varieties, you can find a quality pad of this type for daily street driving or hard performance braking. While semi-met pads are known for great performance and durability, they can also produce a large amount of dust, wear brake rotors and are a bit noisier than ceramic pads.

  • Ceramic Pads

    The smooth, sophisticated choice, ceramic pads are known for their easy, quiet stops, and long-lasting performance. Made from a dense ceramic material, ceramic pads are favored for their quiet stops and consistent, all-around brake performance. Ceramic pads produce less brake dust. Most ceramic dust is vaporized by friction with the rotor, and the remaining dust is finer, lighter-colored and has a lower tendency to stick to wheels than dust from a semi-met pad. Although slightly more expensive, ceramic pads may be the best choice for day-to-day driving, but are not usually recommended for heavy-duty hauling or racing brakes. They also can underperform in cold temperatures, lacking, “cold-bite,” or braking immediate braking performance in extreme cold.

  • Overall

    Ceramic pads offer easier, quieter stops and cleaner wheels, but semi-met pads provide a wider range of braking power, and more stability under extreme temperatures. Eventually, it’s up to you and what best fits your driving style.

Brake Pad Features

  • What is a chamfer on a brake pad?

    A chamfer is the angled edge of the brake pad. It controls the way the pad applies friction to the rotor, and significantly reduces braking noise.

  • What is a brake shim?

    The shim is a plate fitting between the pad’s packing plate and the caliper. This small barrier corrects minor fit issues, leading to reduced braking noise and helping to eliminate any rattling.

  • What is a brake pad slot and why does it matter?

    The slot in the middle of a brake pad increases braking performance by separating braking friction into separate components, and providing a small gap for gas and dust to escape and heat and friction rise.