Ceramic Vs Semi-Metallic Brake Pads – What’s Better?

If you’re looking to replace your vehicle’s rotors and brakes, you’ll come across ceramic pads and semi-metallic pads. To know which one is better is completely dependent on your vehicle’s weight, how you drive your vehicle, and the environment you live in. 

Semi-metallic brake pads are able to dissipate heat more efficiently. That means they can last you longer. As for one being cooler than the other? There is no difference until the temperature comes into play. Semi-metallics stopping power is relatively stronger in colder climates. 

Ceramics, on the other hand, don’t care what temperature it is outside unless you abuse them. When they get hot, they stay hot. So if you’re speeding around the highway and constantly giving them a brake slamming workout, it’s not going to bode well for their longevity. In that case, you might as well stick with semi-metallic brake pads. They’ll be able to take the heat better. Both pads work well and relatively similar when they aren’t too hot, the difference comes when they reach that point. 

If you have brake pads geared for performance, they’ll be able to take a lot of heat. Most drivers will not experience this or need it. But, it’s still good to check the specifications and tolerances of your brake pads. Driving heavy work vehicles around all day? Those take more stopping power, semi-metallics are your best bet.

Ceramic pads are quieter, this is because of the surface. Ceramic material is more uniform as opposed to something metallic that can chip and cause dust due to friction and metals structure.  Ceramics work less well when they overheat as we’ve said and they’re a great option for normal driving. Not gunning it? Get ceramics. Semi-metallic pads work better in the cold, they have more natural “bite”. The metal creates more friction on the rotors so the actual rotors of semi-metallics tend to wear down faster than ceramics. 

So final points are that ceramics have less grip but they’re a cleaner solution and best for a daily driver. Semi-metallics handle extreme heat and cold better, last longer but create more dust and are harder on rotors because of their grip. 

 So, are you using your pads for daily driving or using your truck as a passenger vehicle instead of hauling(ceramic), longevity and heavy vehicles(semi-metallic) or at the track(semi-metallic)? Your answer lies in the response to that question. 

If you’re interested in the history of ceramic brakes, wiki has you covered and has an entire article on brake pads of every type here


I'm the owner of Beast Auto. I live in Phoenix, Arizona. I love anything automotive related, and taking road trips all across my beautiful state.

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