Is there a way to tell if a car has semi-metallic or ceramic brake pads?

Hello all,

The title basically says it all, but I do have one more question.

Are semi-metallic pads more resistant to brake fade at higher temperatures than ceramic pads?

Are you driving a car where the answer to this question is even relevant? :slight_smile:

I’m talking about track performance, not necessarily street performance.

There are few people on this forum who may be able to entertain the topic, but I bet you would have to be more specific in your question to get their attention.
Also, it is not likely that you will get a “good all around” answer, it’s always a compromise.

You also might post this on a track-related forum for your car, I’m sure there are folks that’ll go into great detail on brake pad options.

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Semi-metallic pads have a higher potential for performance.
But any high performance pad for the track is not going to work at its best until it gets hotter than it would in normal street use.

Another sure fire way to tell… just replace the existing brake pads with whatever flavor of pad you choose. And possibly the rotors, too. Mystery solved!

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I’ll give you the “engineer’s answer” It depends. It depends on the binder used to hold the friction mixture together more than the actual friction materials. If the binder breaks down at 500 F, it won’t hold metallic nor ceramic friction material. Track pads tend to be made with both metallic and ceramics. “Ceramics” is a general term used to describe a fiber that looks, acts, and is a lot like asbestos but is not asbestos.

You buy pads based on the operating temperature range you expect to see and then you measure those temperatures and adjust. A street pad needs to work well between rotor temperatures of -40 F to about 400 F. Most street pads will start to fade and wear rapidly over 5-600 F.

Track pads don’t even start to work well until at least 100 F and sometimes higher. Hawk Brakes have charts that show the temperature ranges for each compound they sell. Hawks DTC-70 compound works between 400 F and 1600 F but is designed to work best between 800 to 1200 F.

It is hard to get a rotor to 400 F on the street. A lower temp compound, Hawks DTC-30 works from 100 to 1200 F but works best from 100 to 800 F. Their performance street pad, the HP-S, works best from 100 to 500 F.

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I’m an engineer.
Here is what I would personally do:

Disregard any assumptions you have.
Compare the technical data sheets of the specific parts in question. Therein lies your answer.

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Yep, I’d be more interested in the performance of the make and model brake pads in my application than their composition.

If you want to provide me with the specific component models, I can take a look and see what I can find.

I cannot guarantee I will be able to find anything but I will try to help.

Let’s see if the OP comes back with some…

Just did that with the aftermarket pads I’m looking at. It does appear that, from the same brand (Project MU), and they say that the metallic pads have a higher maximum operating temperature (around 500 celcius) and the ceramic pads have a lower maximum operating temperature (400 celcius). They also say the metallic pads have lots of graphite in them

EDIT: Those guys have a decent amount of metallic pads, so the really good ones have a really high max operating temp of 800 celcius, and the lower tier ones (street ones) have a maximum operating temperature of 500 celcius. It doesn’t look like they have a lot of ceramic pads though…

Do you have a specific vehicle that needs Brake Pads ? If you are not doing track days Pads that meet original equipment specs will be just fine .


If you want maximum track performance you will need new pads, rotors and calipers. If you want to drive it mainly on the street and take it to the track a few times get mildly upgraded pads.

In the 50s, there were guys who bought MGs, Triumphs, Jags and even Ferraris and drove them all week and raced them on the weekend. That era did not last very long because they soon were not competitive against the guys who prepped them just for the track.