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What’s the difference between ceramic and semi-metallic?

The difference between ceramic brake pads and semi-metallic brake pads is simple (watch video) – it all comes down to the materials that are used to produce each brake pad.

When choosing a ceramic brake pad or semi-metallic brake pad for a vehicle, there are certain applications in which ceramic and semi-metallic brake pads both offer different advantages.

For performance vehicles, track driving or as the best brake pads for towing, most drivers prefer semi-metallic brake pads, as they provide better braking over a wider range of temperatures and conditions. They are made of material that conducts heat well, thus making them more able to withstand higher temperatures upon braking, while helping the system cool simultaneously. Semi-metallic brake pads can be noisier than ceramic brake pads and their price point normally falls between that of organic and ceramic brake pads.


Ceramic brake pads, while quieter, are also able to handle extremely high temperatures with quick recovery, causing less damage to the brake rotors. As they wear, ceramic brake pads create a finer dust than semi-metallic brake pads, leaving less debris on the vehicle’s wheels. Ceramic brake pads typically last longer than semi-metallic brake pads, and through their lifespan, provide better noise control and less wear-and-tear to brake rotors, without sacrificing braking performance. When deciding on ceramic brake pads versus semi-metallic brake pads, bear in mind that not all vehicle makes and models are compatible with ceramic brake pads, so research is advised.

Understanding how brake pads function and how different brake pad materials are suited for different applications will help you make the right brake pad selection to fit your customer’s unique vehicle and driving needs.

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