Ceramic pads vs semi-metallic

Mar 28, 2022
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I had so many problems with "performance" brake pads that i finally went back to the drawing board and looked at the materials science end and looked at why some "perfomance" pads are actually nothing of the sort (I'm looking directly at you Hawk). Ceramic, in the end, really is a compromise for reduced dusting and long wear. They are totally not suited to use in a "performance" pad application by any definition I'd use. Ceramic truly suck at heat dissipation and they're not as good as organic as friction generators. Fine for a mommy mobile but maybe sub-optimal for a muscle car. Organic I just plain don't like on fast/powerful cars, full stop (pardon the pun). The onset of fade on organics is frequently like a light switch. Having your front end suddenly lift during a hard braking maneuver is something I can't recommend experiencing. Only organics have ever done that to me. Metallic are probably best left to racing due to the need to heat them up for optimal performance and the higher rotor wear. They're heat sucking monsters, dissipation is relatively poor and I've had my brake fluid boil a number of times with metallic pads which leads to more sudden front end lifting while trying to brake hard. Dusting from metallic is about like organics but the noise can be like fingernails on a bloody chalkboard. Pads made with stuff like Aramid, Kevlar, carbon fibres, etc... these give big improvements in heat/fade resistance and they're mellow on rotors but dust pretty aggressively.

The only pads that worked for street and track and didn't sacrifice any performance characteristics were the super-fiber variety. I've since settled on EBC Yellow Stuff as the best mix of cost/availability/performance. They're made of Aramid fiber (among other stuff that's in the matrix) which sits up there with other modern super-fibers that have insane tensile strength, high heat resistance, light weight, etc... I've done everything I can to get them to fade but without another 200hp that's not going to happen. They're pretty darned dusty, no two ways about it. They're super nice to rotors though and you don't lose the bite you want at cold temps for the fade resistance you want at high temps. They're not expensive either.

There are other pad compounds that are more specialized or just different but after I found EBC Yellow Stuff worked so well I stopped doing the academic research and haven't had need of anything more performant.
That was insanely helpful.

My experience with the ceramics more or less backs up what you said. I'll look at the EBCs next time I swap pads.

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