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Best brake pads for trucks

Best brake pads for trucks — ceramic or semi-metallic?

Ceramic brake pads are standard equipment on almost 70% of all new cars and CUVs. Ceramic brake pads offer lots of advantages, but are they the best choice for your large SUV or pickup truck? Maybe not. Let’s look a the differences.

Ceramic brake pads versus semi-metallic brake pads

What is a semi-metallic brake pad?

In addition to normal friction materials, semi-metallic brake pads usually contain between 30-70% metal content to create and dissipate heat. The metals used are usually iron and steel fibers, along with a graphite lubricant and filler material to complete manufacturing.

Semi-metallic brake pads use abrasive friction technology to convert motion into heat. In other words, the semi-metallic brake pad is like sandpaper and the rotor is like wood; the brake pad wears out the rotor.

What is a ceramic brake pad?

Ceramic brake pads also contain lubricants, binders and filler material. But the main component a ceramic compound.

Ceramic brake pads work differently than semi-metallic brake pads. They use adherent friction technology, which is referred to as film-on-film. When the ceramic pads are installed, they are “bedded” to the rotor, which deposits a thin film of the ceramic material into the pores of the rotor face. Then, during braking, the brake pad creates heat by rubbing against the film deposits on the rotor. The film breaks down in high heat and the pad lays down another film layer.

Apply a sticky substance to the palm of each hand. Let it dry. Then rub them together. That’s adherent friction technology. Unlike abrasive brakes where the brake pad wears away the rotor, adherent brake pads wear the friction material, not the rotor.

Which brake pad is better for your truck?

Ceramic brake pads are more expensive than semi-metallic brake pads, and they wear faster than semi-metallic pads due to their adherent technology. But they don’t wear out your rotors as quickly. Ceramic brake pads create less noise and brake dust than semi-metallic pads and they work better when cold.

Ceramic brake pads don’t perform as well as semi-metallic pads in cold weather simply because they must heat up for the adherent technology to work properly. Once heated up, they create a moderate amount of friction. However, since they can’t absorb as much heat as a semi-metallic brake pad, they pass more heat to the caliper and brake fluid, which results in more brake fade in hard braking situations than a semi-metallic brake pad in the same situation.

Ceramic brake pads are well suited for cars and light CUVs. But they’re not the best choice for heavy SUVs and light trucks that haul heavy loads. They’re also not the best choice for extreme driving conditions. In other words, they’re not a good choice for racing.

Semi-metallic brake pads work better in cold weather and provide the best braking in hard braking applications in heavy vehicles or vehicles hauling heavy loads. In other words, they provide the most stopping power of all the friction material types. Because the metal fibers are  such a good conductor of heat, metallic brake pads tend to withstand more heat while simultaneously helping braking systems cool back down more quickly. They also don’t compress as much as organic or ceramic brakes, so they required less pressure to provide the same stopping ability.

If you own a large SUV or truck and your vehicle came with semi-metallic brake pads, you should replace them with semi-metallic brake pads. If you switch to ceramic, you’ll simply have less stopping power.

©, 2021 Rick Muscoplat

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat


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