Automotive guides


Brake Pads On Today’s Cars

You probably know how important it is to regularly change your brake pads but did you know that you won’t need to do this for several years at a time. Indeed, automotive experts advise that, on average, you can expect to change your brake pads about once every 4 to 5 years, or 70,000 miles (whichever comes first).  As a good rule of thumb, then, a good way to monitor their wear is to simply have them checked every time you perform your regularly scheduled tire rotation. This should happen about once or twice a year (since the wheels are off, it is easier to inspect the brakes and brake pads).

But even if you do know when it is appropriate to change your brake pads, do you know what type of brake pads your car needs?  That in mind, let us take a look at the brake pads currently in use on vehicles today.

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The first brake pads were asbestos-based so it is probably not too difficult to imagine that this eventually changed. However, it was not until the 1980s that health and safety initiatives enforced a new consumer vehicle brake pad standard. After this time, non-asbestos organic (NAO) brake pads became the industry standard.  Roughly 70 percent of cars on the road today use NAO brake pads, which can consist of glass, carbon, rubber, or fiber. As is the case with most synthetics, NAO brake pads are more affordable but they are also softer than traditional asbestos pads and that puts more limits on their operating temperature


Obviously, this type of brake pad has metallic elements.  In fact, semi-metallic brake pads always consist of between 30 and 65 percent metal (by weight).  Common semi-metallic brake pads are made of coper, iron, steel, or other such materials.  These are held as the most versatile type of brake pad as they are quite durable, though they can be a bit louder.


These are the newest type of brake to hit the streets today. Obviously, they are made of a dense ceramic material (or more than one type of ceramic material), but all are embedded with copper fibers, kind of like a skeleton.  While they are the most modern, they are still regarded as a specialty item as they tend to be noisier and produce more brake dust.


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As a mechanical engineer turned blogger, Charlie provides readers with a technical, yet accessible look into the world of automotive engineering and design. His insightful posts make complex car technologies understandable.