Brakes and Rotors what do I really need?
If your wheels squeal like a pig on fire whenever you hit the brakes, you need to swap them out for a new set of brake pads. But with so many choices available, weighing the differences between ceramic and semi-metallic, or even organic, brake pads can be difficult. Especially since they all claim to provide the best stopping power available. Follow this simple shopping guide to make the whole process easier.
First, identify how you primarily use your vehicle
- If you’re just driving around town, the performance of race brakes is probably not appropriate for your ride. If this describes your situation, then OEM-quality pads, ceramic or organic pads will provide the quiet and smooth stops you need so you can enjoy a simple turn about town as you commute to work or run errands
- Basic, OEM quality rotors are all you will ever need for simply commuting. But once you load your car down with gear and passengers, you might notice your brakes getting a little hot and smelly on the way back from the mountains. If so, your car will benefit from a set of drilled rotors. Otherwise, high-quality conventional rotors should work just fine for the daily driver
- When towing heavy loads, your truck will need heavy-duty brakes to cope with the extra heat that’s generated. Semi-metallic pads are brutally tough and great for this. And, since trailers make a ton of noise, slight squeaking from these aggressive pads won’t be as noticeable as they would be on a commuter car.
- Add a few tons behind it and you end up with a boat-load of brake heat. Slotted or drilled rotors sweep away excessive heat, giving your braking power that lasts down the longest grade
- Half of conquering the mountain is making it back down safely. Get your off-road rig back to camp in one piece with pads that provide plenty of hold — regardless of temperature. Heavy-duty semi-metallic or mild racing pads are great choices here.
- Hot brakes are bad enough news on the road, so it’s not hard to imagine how unnerving spongy brakes can be when you’re zipping through the desert. Slotted and drilled rotors are a great choice for Pre-runner style driving, while high-quality OEM style rotors are better for mudding as slots and drilled holes can become clogged
- Once you start cranking up your car’s horsepower with accessories, you need to ensure you can stop at a moment’s notice. Semi-metallic, select ceramic or organic pads — and even mild race pads — can be used to give your braking system a boost… withoutcommitting your ride to race-only status.
- Power-adding accessories make your street terror downright scary when it comes time to stop. Slotted or drilled rotors are sure to keep your ride’s braking system cool as a cucumber during furious street driving
- For racing applications, all the comforts of an OEM pad go out the window in favor of sheer stopping power. A race-ready brake system spends much of its time enduring intense heat, so it’s critical to use pads designed to work well at higher temperatures. Your best bet to beat the heat is a set of heavy-duty semi-metallic or dedicated racing brake pads.
- Watch your favorite style of racing on T.V. and you’ll see brake rotors glowing cherry red as drivers attempt to contain a combination of monstrous horsepower and momentum. These cars depend on ultra-high performance rotors with 1 or 2-piece designs, specially-patterned slotted & drilled holes, and larger-than-stock sizes to boost braking power, while leaving excessive brake heat in the dust. Although they come at a greater price, 2- piece rotors offer lighter weight and greater thermal capacity.