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Your guide to the most commonly replaced car part - brake pads

13th October 2019 Print

Cars require a pretty constant stream of parts and pieces to remain roadworthy. Though of all car parts that need replacing regularly, none need changing more often than brake pads.

But how much do you really know about these unassuming but essential car parts?

The Different Types of Brake Pads

Brake pads exist in an endless range of shapes, sizes and specifications, though the vast majority fall within one of the following four categories:

- Semi-metallic brake pads. Highly effective and with excellent heat transfer efficiency, though potentially noisy and less effective in cold conditions.

- Organic, non-asbestos organic or NAO brake pads. Quieter than their counterparts above, though with a tendency to wear out more quickly.

- Low-metallic NAO brake pads. Effective and economic, though tend to produce more dust and noise when in use.

- Ceramic brake pads. The most effective and efficient brake pads by far, but also the most expensive by a considerable margin.

You’ll also find that the brand of the brake pads you pick up has a marked impact on quality and performance.

Choosing the Right Brake Pads

Making sense of the brake pad types above means first considering your requirements. Depending on the type of vehicle you drive, some types of brake pads will be more or less suitable than others.

Examples of which include the following:

- Small or compact cars. The smaller and lighter the car, the lower the friction level required to slow it down. Hence, you’ll usually get away with organic brake pads.

- Medium-sized cars. More friction is required to stop larger cars, so it’s worth considering low-metallic NAO pads as a recommended option. Ceramic pads would also get the job done well.

- High acceleration or sports cars. Semi-metallic or high-performance ceramic brake pads are essential for high-speed vehicles, where rapid deceleration is required on a regular basis.

- Heavy-duty vehicles - lorries, vans, SUVs. Specialist brake pads with more metal in their composition are usually required for heavy-duty vehicles and lorries.

If in doubt, consult your local stockist for more information.

When Do Brake Pads Need Changing?

More often than not, brake pads give plenty of clear signs when they are ready to be changed. Examples of which include high-pitched sounds when braking, the brakes feeling generally less reliable, the vehicle listing when braking – anything at all out of the ordinary.

If you suspect that your brake pads need replacing, don’t waste time waiting for the problem to become more severe. Shopping around online for parts such as brake pads and brake discs from websites such as will save you money. 

Along with compromising the safety of your vehicle, worn brake pads can cause severe damage to other parts of your car’s braking systems. Hence, trying to save money by putting off the repairs required until the last minute can actually end up costing you more.

If in doubt, have your brake pads inspected and ensure they are replaced if necessary.