Brake pad material

can someone please tell me, which is the best brake pad material for drum brake and disc brake ???

Asbestos is the best material but it isn’t used anymore because of cancer concerns… But that isn’t why you are asking, is it?

Either metallics or ceramics will works just fine. Metallic brake pads for disk brakes are dirty and will make your nice aluminum wheels look awful unless you wash your car weekly. Used in a drum brake, the dust doesn’t end up on the wheels as much so it is acceptable, IMHO, in drum brakes.

Ceramic front pads are much cleaner and will perform well and last long. They provide the best stopping power, longest life and least dirty wheels.

If this car is just driven like a normal car, i.e. no autocrosses or track days, no constant drives up and down mountains, good quality, name brand brake pads and shoes will do you just fine. NOT the $9.99 specials. Quality costs money, don’t buy the cheapest and either replace or turn the rotors and drums if they are at all in doubt. It will set up the best surface for the new parts.

It depends on what you want to do with them. @Mustangman hit the high points. If you’re going to be engaging in, er… Spirited driving on the street then you want a carbon/kevlar blend like the Porterfield R4-S pads. Be sure to get the -S ones - that designates street use. The normal R4s are track only and will not heat up enough on the street to be effective.

I run high performance pads in all of my cars except my utility truck. Even the daily driver that gets driven nicely most of the time has upgraded brake pads. Why? Because when that kid blasts out from behind a parked car and straight into my path I want the best stopping power I can get.

They actually came in handy this morning - I stopped just short enough to avoid running over 6 fledgling swallows that bumbled into the road. :wink:

I’ve had excellent performance from ceramics. I’ve used metallic in the past, and they wear excellent, but they do tend to be noisier.

I think I have ceramic now and are quiet and effective. I just get OEM though so whatever they are.

diy ceramics are about $40 for the front on many normal cars. but in the past, the 19.99 specials at all places seem to work fine for stopping as well. i am going to try the ceramics next time to have cleaner wheels/less dust.

Your question isn’t really answerable until you define what “best” means to you. Longest life? Least fade under repeated hard braking? Lowest noise? Least dust?
For a performance application, I like metallic. For economy applications, I use soft organics and replace often (but then the discs should last longer.)

And any DOT-approved pad will produce enough friction to lock the tires in all conditions, so I don’t see “stopping power” as a relevant criteria.

And any DOT-approved pad will produce enough friction to lock the tires in all conditions

In my experience, this is not the case. Good tires in good traction conditions won’t lock under crappy pads, especially at lower speeds.

Also, if you’re going to be doing a lot of higher-speed driving, pad fade becomes a factor. Sure, maybe your pad can provide full stopping power the first hard braking time, but what about the second, or the tenth?

I agree with @shadowfax, here. Cheap pads fade like an orange shirt in hot bleach! If you are using your brakes harder than the average driver, i.e. trailer towing, lots of mountain driving, spirited 2 lane back roads (ignoring track days) - it is that 2nd, 3rd or 4th slowdown you really need to worry about. If you can smell 'em, they are hot!

I favor Hawk brand brake pads for performance use. They have everything from very good quality metallic or ceramic street pads to heavy duty car or truck pads all the way up to won’t-fade-'til-1200-degrees-super-high-friction full race pads. There are others that fit this category, EBC, Carbotech, Porterfield, Performance Friction, and Ferodo.

Or, if you’re a regular schmo like me, you might consider Wagner Ther-Quiet ceramic pads. I’ve used them for about 100,000 on my Accord V6 and they are great for a commuter car. They are quiet and work well enough to keep me from getting chummy with someone else’s rear bumper.

Ummmm… to the OP: avoid race pads. They’re designed (compounded) to operate hot, and you won’t be happy with their street performance.

My recommendation would be to use ceramic. They’re quiet, low dust, have good life, and good performance for the street.

@shadowfax : I stand corrected. Truer to say I have been able to lock wheels on dry pavement of any car I’ve driven…but then, I haven’t come close to driving all possible cars.

Here’s another question: Metallic vs ceramic, which wears the rotors out faster? And the pads faster?

That was a recent question:

My observations . . .

I don’t consider Wagner Thermoquiet brake pads to be very high quality

The reason . . . because they are NOT quiet. At least not in the applications I’ve used them for. Which is not spirited driving. Cut the rotors, replace, whatever. Doesn’t matter. They are noisey

I believe @asemaster said much the same thing at one point. In fact, if memory serves me, he said he no longer offers them for his customers, because they’re more trouble than they’re worth

As far as ceramics . . . I’ve had good luck with factory ceramic pads. Not so with aftermarket. The problem is noise AND they eat the rotors. To top it off, I couldn’t even get them bedded in acceptably well

In regards to semi-metallic . . . yes, they dust up your rims. But they bite hard, and that’s a good thing. If the factory pads are semi-metallic, I’ve had no problems with noise

To sum up my observations . . .

Stick with the factory material

Better yet, stick with factory brake pads

I’ve very rarely had noise complaints with factory brake pads, both semi-metallic and ceramic. The only times were when the brake pads were very close to the wear indicator. At which point it’s understandable, because there isn’t much material left to absorb any noise

Unfortunately, I’ve had MANY noise complaints with aftermarket brake pads. Even expensive and high quality aftermarket

My sample size is probably thousands, for what it’s worth

I know I"m not going to change anybody’s mind. But that wasn’t my goal, anyways


I use “name brand” metallic brake pads and have never had a problem other that dust on my front wheels. The name brand is Wagner if I can find them.

@TSM, I don’t think anyone recommended race pads to OP. :wink: For what it’s worth, R4S is a blend of race and street pads. They function at street temperatures, but also are more resistant to fade than normal street pads, so if you do a lot of heavy braking they’re a good idea.

We used to use Wagner ThermoQuiets almost exclusively. They lasted well, they didn’t dust the wheels, and they were quiet. Then a few years ago I started having noise complaints. It seems they changed something about the pad material or construction. Supposedly they have fixed whatever was causing the noise but I haven’t used a set in a couple of years.

As to the original question, you need to factor in the car and entire brake system to determine what the best friction material is. Might be organic, might be semi-metallic, might be ceramic. Simply saying ceramic is the best isn’t correct.

I don't consider Wagner Thermoquiet brake pads to be very high quality

I’ve been using Wagner pads for 40 years…and their thermo quiet pads since they came out. They are one of the longest lasting pads I’ve ever owned. Very quiet. IMHO they are one of the premier brake parts companies out there. They are also an OEM provider for many different manufacturers. Have been for decades.

The Wagner pads are not at all noisy on my Accord EX V6.