Read these 12 Brake Pads Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Auto Accessories tips and hundreds of other topics.
Ceramic brake pad materials are made up of ceramic compounds and copper fibers. This allows for a quicker recovery after stopping and better heat resistance. Ceramic brakes keep the dust, heat fade and wear on the rotors to a
minimum. Ceramic brakes can be used for most any applications from the
family car to the race car.
Metallic brake pad materials are made up of steel material fibers, but they show more dust and a slower recovery after the stop. Beware, there are some companies who are making a cheaper ceramic brake pad by using organic materials mixed with the ceramic compounds. These are less expensive brakes with very little performance or quality.
According to most mechanics, the ceramic brake not only meets and exceeds the required OEM standards, it performs much better than metallic, semi-metallic or "semi-ceramic" pads.
Before you start your car's brake installation, you will want to put "blocking" behind the wheels to keep the vehicle from moving backwards after you jack up the vehicle. Here are some tips to getting started:
Choosing the right brake for your vehicle is very important. There are several factors involved when purchasing the right brake pads and not all brakes are created equal. First consider your location. Are you an everyday highway driver, or do you drive up and down the mountain everyday? For the minivan that handles carpooling, soccer games and road trips, consider the amount of weight on your brakes.
When shopping for brakes, find out the average life line of the brakes and how often they need to be replaced. Brake life is often misleading by the manufacturer so make sure to ask questions. Your minivan is not racing on the track, so buy brake pads that are suited for your vehicle. Looking for a leader in brake pads? EBC brakes are a leader in low dust brake pads with little fade. The price range varies per application; ask your mechanic or manufacturer for more details before purchasing your brake pads.
When it comes to brake pads, ceramics may be bringing the reign of the semi-metallic pad to a screeching halt. According to the brake pad experts, ceramic materials are a good choice for brake linings because they have more stable and predictable friction characteristics than most semi-metallic materials. Because the coefficient of friction doesn't drop off as quickly as semi-metallics, ceramics provide a consistent pedal feel that is the same whether the pads are hot or cold. There is a lot less NVH (noise, vibration & harshness) with ceramics, which makes the brakes a lot quieter. Ceramics also give off less dust. Or so it seems. The dust is lighter in color and doesn't show up on your wheels.
Once again, the organic pad zealots are poisoning the mind of the American motorist. Metal pads do not score rotors more than organic ones. Rotor scoring is mostly caused by
(1) a malfunctioning caliper,
(2) a pad that has hard impurities in the compound or
(3) a warped rotor that is riding against a pad edge.
A metallic pad is made from fine steel wire (like a Brillo pad) and powdered sponge iron. Both of these metals are softer than the rotor surface. And that's the truth.
We have already established that all brake pads are not created equal. If you know what to look for you can tell the good from the bad and the ugly in fairly short order. Here's what to look for:
-Stainless steel shims. These provide the ultimate in corrosion resistance, durability and reliability, and longer noise-free performance.
-A graphite-enhanced powder coating to protect the steel backing plate from corrosion, extreme temperatures, and reduces noise.
-A slotted surface and chamfered edges for noise-free operation. These are found only on premium quality linings. Chamfered edges allow the pads to engage the rotor more smoothly, which reduces chatter, vibration and noise. Slots also help muffle noise and while providing a path for hot gases to escape under the toughest braking conditions.
-An underlayer that acts to absorb vibration while maintaining full stopping power. The underlayer is located between the pad and steel plate and acts to dampen all vibrations caused by the brake pads engaging the rotors.
As the saying goes, you have a lot riding on your brakes. That's why you should make sure that your next brake job covers the entire braking system from the master cylinder to the calipers and wheel cylinders. Here's what you do:
-Check the level and condition of the brake fluid. Changing the fluid is recommended to get rid of moisture contamination
-Bleed all the brake lines to remove trapped air -Inspect the entire system for leaks (hoses, lines, wheel cylinders, calipers and master cylinder)
-Inspect all the mechanical and hydraulic components in both the front and rear brakes (calipers, caliper hardware, wheel cylinder, drum hardware and parking brake)
-Replace the front and rear linings (if necessary)
-Inspect and resurface or replace rotors and drums as needed
-Inspect wheel bearings (repacking on older vehicles)
-Lubricate all critical areas such as caliper slides and shoe pads with moly-based high temperature brake grease
-Check and adjust the parking brake
-Check the ABS system (no warning light or trouble codes)
-Make sure the pedal is firm and the brakes operate properly, quietly and provide safe stopping power once the job is complete.
Absolutely not. This is a vicious rumor spread by a minority of disgruntled non-metallic pad zealots. That squealing you hear coming from your brakes is caused by vibrations between the pad and rotor, not the pad itself. When the vibrations get into an audible range, you hear a squeal-like sound because of the rotation of the system. This vibration has many causes: you could have a
(1) malfunctioning caliper,
(2) warped rotor,
(3) fatigued or missing brake hardware,
(4) unlubricated metal-to-metal surfaces in caliper and brake hardware,
(5) pads and rotor not burnished in,
(6) malfunctioning brake booster, or a host of various and sundry brake system failures.
The fact of the matter is that some brake systems are just born squealers. That is why most systems use brake-silencer shims.
You've seen it. That black dust all over your rotor that seeps out onto your rims. Like mold, or mildew. And you ask yourself, What the %#@& is this #@$%? Not that it will help that much, but there is a technical explanation for dusty pads. It seems some brake formulas use petroleum hydrocarbons as glues and binders. When your pads get hot they can give off a gas which coats your wheels in an oily, greasy film that everything sticks to. But this is only part of the story. As metallic formula brake pads heat up, the metallic particles become magnetized from the heat and friction causing a static charge that sticks to alloy wheels. Can dusty pads be prevented? In many cases, maybe. New formulas on the market will reduce dust; some more than others. For now there are low-dust pads, but no guaranteed 100% no-dust pads. Keep in mind that even low or lower dust pads will dust excessively if you have other brake problems or if your rotors were not replaced or resurfaced.
Do metallic pads eat rotors? The answer is: it depends on which rotor you are talking about. Take a close look at a cheaply made metallic brake pad and see how big the wire and steel particles are in the mix. Compare that to high-performance premium pads and see the finely cut, even metal distribution. If you can't believe your eyes, run your fingers over the pads. Your finger will pick up metal slivers from the cheap pads while the premium pad offers a soft, smooth surface.
Most people will wait until their brakes are squealing, rubbing, or even have failed before changing them. This is not only extremely dangerous, but will cause damage to other parts of your vehicle. Knowing when to change breaks is crucial for safe driving. It's recommended that you get your brakes checked once every six months, or around every 10,000 miles for an everyday driver. There are several things to check for when inspecting your breaks:
When it comes to race car braking, extreme friction plays the biggest part. Whether it's NASCAR or the Indy circuit, braking is as important, if not more essential, as acceleration is to winning a race.
Imagine going from 175 miles an hour to almost a crawl in just a few seconds, or maybe climbing an almost 90 degree hill or incline with that monster truck and having to stop on the way down. If you're looking for extreme braking ability, or you are a beginner in the racing community, consult auto stores or online stores that specialize in racing brake pads and brakes.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|