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Brake Pads

Brake pads are the most commonly changed item of the braking system. Manufacturers often establish recommended change intervals, much like oil changes or tire rotations. Fortunately, most vehicles now use wear indicator systems, allowing for an audible squealing noise to be emitted from brake pads which have worn too low. Visual inspection is also possible, but is not always as obvious.

Replacement brake pads from your dealership may be expensive, noisy, dusty, or simply weak. A wide variety of aftermarket options are available to solve any or all of the above issues. In fact, it is possible to choose brake pads that meet your exact needs. Whether you require an inexpensive brake pad that emits less brake dust than the factory option, or a hardcore track performance pad that can withstand high heat ranges, the options are out there.

Because of these options, there is also a such thing as choosing the incorrect brake pad for your use. We would like to ensure that you are guided in the right direction if you have any uncertainties. Before the right decision can be made, it is important to realize how factory brake pads are intended to be used. Most importantly, as you may have already assumed, most original equipment pads are not intended for high performance braking.

Each brake pad compound, which will vary between brand and model, has a specific heat range. These exact heat ranges are not always available, but we can usually classify pads into three main categories: stock, street-performance, and track. Stock-like brake pads operate at full strength even when they are cold. If you have been driving on the interstate for an hour straight, the wind has cooled your pads and rotors down significantly. If an emergency situation occurs and warrants a sudden stop, you need your brakes to act at full strength. Factory and stock-like pads accomplish this. Aftermarket pads in this category are often less expensive than factory options, and may have other benefits as well, such as less brake dust.

Optimal stopping with cold brakes is one thing, but stopping with the same efficiency when the brakes are hot is another story. Factory pads often lose their efficiency past a certain heat level, but what we consider to be street-performance pads have a much broader heat range. While still offering the same initial bite of braking when cold, street-performance pads are able to continue stopping after you've been thrashing on the brakes through your favorite back-road or for light track use. Users of factory brake pads would be experiencing brake fade at this point, meaning that your brakes seem to lose their efficiency. Brake fade can be dangerous if unexpected.

For those who are looking to eliminate all signs of brake fade, you should resort to any number of track-oriented pads. This type of compound has an increased heat range across the board. Initial bite when brakes are cold will be reduced, but the heat capacity on the high-end is increased. For those who are regularly attending track days or other driving schools, we recommend a set of track pads for the events and switching bad to a more conservative brake pad for the street. There is no such brake pad compound that is perfect for high speed track events and daily driving all at once.

Heat ranges are not the only property of brake pads. The compound itself can also improve stopping distances. More aggressive compounds, such as those found in the track pads, often squeal and emit increased amounts of brake dust. As stated earlier, there is no one pad that meets every possible need. We recommend choosing the most correct brake pad for your intended use.

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