The Different Types of Brake Pads

December 29th, 2014 by

Brake pads are an important part of a vehicle’s braking system. Disc brakes rely on the caliper, brake pads, and rotor to function correctly. The brake pads sit inside the caliper, and are the part of the system that clamps down on the rotor. Over time, the pads will wear from the friction that is placed on the rotor to get the wheel to stop. There are four types of brake pads—semi-metallic, non-asbestos organic (NAO), low-metallic NAO, and ceramic—and it’s important to know which type is best for your vehicle.

What’s the Difference between Types of Brake Pads?

ceramic brake pads types of brake pads

This is a ceramic brake pad.

Based on the names of the different types of brake pads, it isn’t apparent which ones are the most widely used or which one you should choose. Here is a rundown of the differences:

  • Semi-Metallic These brake pads are 30 to 65 percent metal and are considered to be very durable, according to CarsDirect. These brake pads may also not function well in extreme, low temperatures. AutoAnything says these brake pads are less expensive and easier on the rotors than ceramic brake pads, but that they are louder and do not last as long as ceramics. According to, these brake pads are generally used on high performance and race cars.
  • Ceramic These brake pads are generally the most expensive, but are cleaner and produce less noise than other materials. Ceramic brake pads last longer than semi-metallics as well. says ceramics outperform organic pads.
  • Low-Metallic, Non-Asbestos Organic (NAO) These brake pads are known to be noisy and to let off a lot of brake dust. However, according to Brake Masters, the copper or steel that is used in these pads helps with heat transfer and breaking.
  • Non-Asbestos Organic These brake pads are generally made from organic materials including fiber, glass, rubber, and Kevlar. These pads are pretty quiet, but can wear faster and produce a lot of brake dust. says that many cars come off of the assembly line with organic pads. This may be because this type of pad is typical for street driving. Although organic brake pads seem to do the trick, you may upgrade to ceramic brake pads if you want less noise and dust. Trucks and SUVs may need brake pads that have more metal for additional stopping power, according to Consumer Reports.
Call Fisher Auto in Boulder, Colo., at 303-245-6414 If you have questions about the different types of brake pads or you need new brake pads installed,