Braking power may be severely reduced if your brake pads are worn thin. Worn brake pads are not only dangerous, but will cause expensive rotor damage if neglected. That said, knowing which kind of brake pad to use for your vehicle can be a challenge. So here's a brief overview of each and our bottom-line recommendations.
NON-ASBESTOS ORGANIC (NAO)
Pros: Inexpensive, quiet
Cons: Wear quickly
NAO brake pads are made with organic fillers like carbon, rubber, and Kevlar. The fillers dissipate heat and dampen vibrations. NAO brake pads are still standard on many vehicles because they work well, are inexpensive, and quiet. But, there's one major downside: they're soft and generally don't last as long as other more expensive formulations.
Pros: Stopping power
Cons: Noisy, dusty
Semi-metallic brake pads are filled with metal fibers. The fibers pull heat away from the rotor and transfer it to the metal backing plate to reduce overheating and brake fade. That’s why semi-metallic brake pads provide ultimate stopping power. But, they’re not perfect.
Since they’re the hardest of all pad materials, semi-metallic brake pads tend to chew up rotors faster. They also make the most noise. In fact, semi-metallic brake pads are notorious for squealing during stops. And, they produce rusty, brown brake dust that’s guaranteed to dirty up your fancy, aluminum rims.
Pros: Stopping power, quiet
No one likes dusty, noisy brakes. Ceramic brake pads are designed to come as close as possible to the braking performance of semi-metallic brake pads, without the noise, dust, and worn brake rotor issues. A large percentage of new cars come equipped with ceramic brake pads right from the factory. But shopping for ceramic brake pads can be difficult because every manufacturer uses a different formula.
When shopping for ceramic brake pads, a higher-priced ceramic brake pad is an indication of its quality. Finding ceramic pads produced by a reliable manufacturer is the most economical choice. Don't use cheap ceramic formula brake pads.