Many people don't realize that they have a choice when they have their brakes replaced. There are four types of brake pads, each one giving you a different driving experience. The next time you take your car in for brake service, ask the technician (such as one from Covey's Auto) about the pads they offer and how they will react on your car.
These are the standard brake pads used if you don't specify another type. They consist of small metal fibers embedded in a resin base. The metals could be steel, copper, iron, graphite or a combination of metals. At the low end of the price range, the metal fibers are large and coarse. Finer materials are used in the more expensive pads. The coarser materials wear out your rotors faster.
While durable, less expensive pads may not work as well at low temperatures. They take time to warm up to operate at their peak efficiency. They also create a fine black dust over the brake components.
Non-Asbestos Organic (NAO)
These brake pads are made of glass, rubber or Kevlar fibers embedded in a resin base. These pads are quieter than semi-metallic but they create more fine dust on the car. They are softer brakes and well-suited to the slow stop-and-go traffic in the city. They do tend to wear out faster than other brake pads but are easier on the rotors. These pads work better at lower temperatures, needing little time to warm up.
This is an organic brake pad that includes small amounts of metal fibers to help with braking and the dissipation of heat. These pads are better on the highway that standard NAO pads, but they are noisier and create more dust. This pad is a good compromise between the semi-metallic and full NAO. You get firm braking from quieter brakes that work well at all temperatures.
These brake pads use ceramic and non-metallic fibers in the resin base. These pads create little dust and wear out slower. They are harder on the rotors than metallic and NAO pads. These pads do not do well at high temperatures so they are not a good fit for large cars or when towing heavy loads. They are a good choice for luxury cars where you don't want the dust buildup and plan to drive only in the city. These are also the most expensive of the brake pads available.