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We want our vehicle's brake system to offer smooth, quiet braking capabilities under a wide range of temperature and road conditions. We don't want brake-generated noise and dust annoying us during our daily driving.
To accommodate this, brake friction materials have evolved significantly over the years. They've gone from asbestos to organic to semi-metallic formulations. Each of these materials has proven to have advantages and disadvantages regarding environmental friendliness, wear, noise and stopping capability.
Asbestos pads caused health issues and organic compounds can't always meet a wide range of braking requirements. Unfortunately the steel strands used in semi-metallic pads to provide strength and conduct heat away from rotors also generate noise and are abrasive enough to increase rotor wear.
Since they were first used on a few original equipment applications in 1985, friction materials that contain ceramic formulations have become recognized for their desirable blend of traits. These pads use ceramic compounds and copper fibers in place of the semi-metallic pad's steel fibers. This allows the ceramic pads to handle high brake temperatures with less heat fade, provide faster recovery after the stop, and generate less dust and wear on both the pads and rotors. And from a comfort standpoint, ceramic compounds provide much quieter braking because the ceramic compound helps dampen noise by generating a frequency beyond the human hearing range.
Another characteristic that makes ceramic materials attractive is the absence of noticeable dust. All brake pads produce dust as they wear. The ingredients in ceramic compounds produce a light colored dust that is much less noticeable and less likely to stick to the wheels. Consequently, wheels and tires maintain a cleaner appearance longer.
Ceramic pads meet or exceed all original equipment standards for durability, stopping distance and noise. According to durability tests, ceramic compounds extend brake life compared to most other semi-metallic and organic materials and outlast other premium pad materials by a significant margin - with no sacrifice in noise control, pad life or braking performance.
This is quite an improvement over organic and semi-metallic brake materials that typically sacrifice pad life to reduce noise, or vice versa.
Ceramic brake pads are available at a cost that is only a little higher than conventional premium pads. Options are listed when you search by vehicle (shown as "Material: Ceramic" in search results).
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