When choosing a brake lining that is right for you, it is important to assess your needs. This is dependent on price, manufacturer, and the type of car you drive. The different types of linings affect braking performance, noise, dust and the life expectancy of the lining.
Step 1 – Brake Pads
When the brake lining material is connected to either a high temperature brake-lining adhesive or a metal backing plate with rivets, brake pads are formed. The 3 most popular types of lining materials are non-asbestos organic (NAO), semi-metallic, and ceramic.
Step 2 – Non-Asbestos Organic (NAO)
At first, brake linings were made of asbestos fibers in a matrix of organic compounds, but when asbestos was officially outlawed because of health risks, brake linings were no longer made from commercialized asbestos. Organic pads now use a fiber called aramid instead. This material is very inexpensive and is vulnerable to brake fade, which is the loss of braking performance that results when a gas layer forms between the lining and friction surface. Another downside of NAO pads is that they can also be very messy since they create black dust that sticks to the wheels of the car.
Step 3 – Semi-Metallic
Very similar to non-asbestos organic pads, semi-metallic brake linings use steel fibers within the lining matrix. Semi-metallic pads have a higher coefficient of friction and because of the high conductivity of steel, it expends heat better than NAO pads. On the other hand, these linings are less likely to be vulnerable to brake fade and create less dust, but they are pricier and noisier.
Step 4 – Ceramic
Since its introduction, ceramic linings have become the most popular type of brake lining use. The pads use copper fibers within its lining matrix in a ceramic material. The type of ceramic material used differs by manufacturer or brand. Compared to NAO and semi-metallic pads, ceramic pads are much less noisy and are less vulnerable to brake fade because of the conducting copper fibers. They are also not as harsh on the rotors as the semi-metallic pads are because copper fibers are much softer than steel fibers. Ceramic linings also do not create as much dust as NAO pads, and the little dust that does occur is a lighter color and not as visible. Furthermore, the dust also does not stick to the wheels of the car as much as they do with organic lining.
Step 5 – Pad Effectiveness
It is important to know your braking needs before deciding on a brake lining. The effectiveness of a pad differs by manufacturer, type, and price. If you are on a budget, then NAO pads are the most suitable option. Larger cars, such as sport utility vehicles, have greater braking demands. Therefore, ceramic pads are the best choice. Lastly, semi-metallic pads are best used on high-performance cars. If a manufacturer offers a lifetime guarantee on the pads, this is usually a red flag, as the pad wear is decreased.