Jim Smart
August 7, 2007

Choosing A Brake Pad
After the business of hydraulics is done, we have to create friction in order to soak up kinetic energy and stop the vehicle. Choosing the right brake pad boils down to what you want from your brakes. No one wants brakes that are unpredictable. You want to be confident of your brakes and know their limitations. Few things are worse than learning those limitations when you're out of control. What's more, it isn't just about stopping power, but driving comfort and noise levels as well. None of us wants noisy brakes on a daily basis because we didn't choose the right pads.

Organic pads are typically what we find as original equipment in most classic Ford applications. Semimetallic brake pads, as their name implies, have a percentage of metal in the pad for improved performance and heat resistance. The more metal there is in the pad, the more effective it will be. However, with more metal comes more noise and brake dust.

In recent years, we have seen more exotic brake pads and shoes for high-performance use. Carbon-metallic and ceramic pads are used in racing applications. Don't kid yourself-these materials are unacceptable for street use and will ruin brake rotors because they're engineered for one primary purpose-racing. High-performance brake pads do best when hot during the extremes of racing. In street use, they never get hot enough to be really effective. In street use, they make a lot of noise and yield an extremely hard pedal.

With all of the issues surrounding ceramic and carbon-metallic in mind, it is important to choose the right brake pads and shoes for the street. Organic brake pads tend to be the most affordable material for street use. They are also the quietest because they absorb noise, vibration, and heat adequately in street use. They are not adequate for racing. Semimetallic pads do a better stopping job, but they are noisier.

We have seen our share of bonded pads and shoes and riveted pads and shoes. Riveted linings get rid of heat better than bonded. Heat is carried away via the rivets. Less heat is a factor in better braking. A good rule is to go with whatever Ford used. Most classic Fords and Mercs had riveted linings from the factory. Bonded linings didn't come along until the '70s. We're convinced bonded linings are quieter. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

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