Understanding Brake Pads Parts and Types

The brake pad is a major part of a disc brake system. It plays the same role as the brake shoes in a drum brake system. Just like the disc brake assembly consists of various parts, there are also different brake pads parts.

Since the brake system parts are susceptible to wearing out, it is important to know when to replace the components. However, unlike a brake disc system that comprises several individual parts, the brake system is often a single-unit part made of different components.

This is a comprehensive analysis of the various types of brake pads, as well as the respective parts of the brake pads.

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Types of Brake Pads

Brake pads are made from various materials, which determine their performance capacity and durability. There are various types of brake pads used in different vehicles in the automotive industry. Some of the common brake pad types include the following.

Ceramic brake pads

Nearly the same ceramic materials used to make plates and pottery are also used to manufacture ceramic brake pads. However, the ones used to make brake pads are denser and comparatively more robust.

In order to maximize heat conductivity and increase friction, ceramic brake pads also have tiny copper strands within them. Since the mid-1980s, ceramic brake pads have been available in the car parts market.

The manufacturers have distinguished them by designing the pads in a way that they make less noise when stopping, emit little dust as they age, and withstand a high degree of heat. For commuters who travel within metropolitan areas, ceramic pads work best for them. They are, however, costlier than most of their counterparts.

Low metallic NAO brake pads

The organic mix formula used to make low metallic NAO brake pads contains about 10% to 30% steel or copper. The materials’ heat transfer properties allow the brake pads to endure high level of heat.

The noisy nature of these brake pads during braking, and the metallic content’s tendency to discharge dust are some of their disadvantages. In addition, they are somewhat relatively cheaper than ceramic brake pads.

Semi-metallic pads

Semi-metallic pads contain some metal. However, their pad formulations contain fillers instead of being made entirely of metal.

These particular brake pads include metal percentages between 30 and 65. They also contain various composite alloys, as well as steel, copper, and iron. During the production process, this combination is finalized with additional fillers and graphite lubricant.

Due to the driving habits and environmental factors, racers subject their vehicles to, semi-metallic brake pads are best suited for high-performance vehicles. In addition, in contrast with ceramic pads and a few other types of brake pads, the materials used in these brake pads allow them to resist more intense temperatures.

Non-asbestos organic – NAO brake pads

The majority of non-asbestos organic pads are built from organic materials like rubber, fiberglass, and Kevlar. Compared to typical brake pads, these vehicle brake pads rank exceptional, as they are a bit quieter and softer.

They are mainly appropriate for day-to-day cruising, but they degrade more quickly. The majority of smaller, more lightweight vehicles come equipped with non-asbestos organic – NAO brake pads.

Brake Pads Parts

The brake pad consists of different parts that are fitted together on the component. All the parts are vital for the resilience, durability, and performance of the brake pad. The following are some of the major parts of the brake pad.

Backing plate

The backing plate is also referred to as the brake plate. Backing plates are made from durable steel due to the kind of task that they are subjected to in the braking system. It is the back of the brake pads that the caliper pistons rest on when you depress the brake pedals.

Wear indicator

As the name implies, the brake pad wear indicator is a device that monitors the extent of wear on the pad in order to inform the driver that the component has attained its minimum wear limit or thickness level.

Usually, the wear indicator will send a signal once your disc brake pads reach 2 millimeters. This is to ensure that you replace the component as soon as possible.

Here’s how it works; the wear indicator is a metal pole that stuck out from the backing plate to the frictional materials. As the brake pad frictional material wears off, the wear indicator will start touching the rotor.

This metal-to-metal contact will create a noise that’ll notify the driver to check the brakes. If you ignore this noise and continue driving the vehicle until the brake pad’s backing plate starts touching the rotor, it’ll damage the brake rotor.

Noise damping shims

Again, just like the name suggests, the noise-dampening shims help to prevent direct contact between the brake pad and the caliper piston during braking. This further ensures that the vibrations and noise that would have resulted from the braking are dampened.

So, the noise-dampening shims help to curb noise issues. However, they can wear out over time, thereby becoming inefficient. The noise-damping shims are considered less useful since most car manufacturers do not include them in their brake pads. Even most aftermarket brake producers do not add this part.

Frictional materials

Some of the common friction materials used in making brake pads include asbestos organic, semi-metallic, non-asbestos organic, etc. This is the only brake pad surface that should have direct contact with the brake rotors.

When braking, the friction materials clamp against the brake rotors, thereby creating friction and slowing down the vehicle’s wheels until the vehicle comes to a halt.


Q: What parts do you need to replace brake pads?

Replacing a car’s brake pads requires a couple of tools or parts for the job to go smoothly. Some of the parts include the following; new brake pads, a can of fresh brake fluid, hand gloves, jack and jack stands, a wrench, C-clamp, lug wrench, and a turkey baster.

The components consist of items that will guarantee your safety and enable you to successfully replace your worn-out brake pads. Ensure to have them handy once it’s time to replace your brake pads based on your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation.

Q: What is the most common brake pad?

The semi-metallic brake pad is the most commonly used in the automotive industry. The brake pad is made up of 30% – 65% metal, as well as steel wool, copper, and wire in some cases. Some semi-metallic brake pads feature other elements in their composition.

The brake pads are mostly used in high-performance cars due to their high-temperature resistance capacity. They are relatively stronger than most of the other brake pads in the automotive parts market. In addition, they can be both front and rear brake pads.

Q: What are the 4 types of brake pads?

Ceramic, non-asbestos organic (NAO), semi-metallic, and low-metallic NAO brake pads are the 4 types of brake pads in the automotive parts market. Virtually all vehicles on the road use one of these brake pad models.

However, it is important to know the brake pad type recommended for your vehicle in your owner’s manual. This will enable you to get the most suitable brake pad replacement part for your car when changing your worn-out brake pads. Kindly note that the cost of brake pad type varies.

Q: What kind of brake pads last longest?

Ceramic brake pads last longer than other types of brake pads. In addition, they are designed to offer top-notch durability, comfort, and quieter performance than their counterparts in the automotive industry.

However, ceramic brake pads do not perform very well in extremely cold temperatures like other brake pads. They are also not suitable for high-performance cars because of the driving style that racing cars are subjected to on the road.

Q: What type of brake pads are OEM?

OEM brake pads are vehicle brake pads that have exactly the same quality as those produced by a vehicle’s manufacturer along with their vehicles from the factory. OEM simply stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. This is a factor when considering a brake pad replacement cost.

In other words, OEM brake pads come with top-notch quality; hence, you can expect them to perform like the ones built along with your car when you first drove it out of the parking lot. So, while you expect efficiency, durability, and comfortability with OEM brake pads, put the price into cognizance.

Final Words

Knowing the brake pads parts will help you get the appropriate part for your worn-out brake pads replacement. However, ensure to verify the type of brake pads in your vehicle before opting for a replacement.

You may want to find out the information from your car owner’s manual or consult a professional auto technician to check it out. Meanwhile, ensure to get standard OEM parts for your vehicle when replacing brake pad parts.

Although most of such parts may cost more than the regular ones in the auto parts shop, their qualities are always commensurate with the cost.


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