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Pads Set

Pads Set

Learn and Shop: Brake Pads

Brake pads are situated in brackets that hold the brake calipers in place. There are two pads per corner on the vehicle, and pads are commonly sold in sets per axle (front pad sets contain four individual pads).

Function

Despite being less visually obvious than calipers or rotors, brake pads and the tires to most of the work to slow the car. As the brake pad lining is pressed onto the rotor face (with pressure provided by the caliper pistons), friction against the rotor provides a "brake torque" to slow the spinning of the wheel. As the wheel slows, traction (friction, again), between the tire and the ground cause the vehicle to slow. The ultimate limit of vehicle braking comes from the tire traction, so the pads are expected to create enough friction to exceed the traction limit of the tires.

Bedding-in

New brake pads must be "bedded-in." Bedding is a process of breaking in the new pads, where a layer of pad material is transferred to the rotor face. This transfer layer provides an ideal rotor surface for the pads to interface with, and thereby provide the best braking ability. It is not always necessary to replaced or resurface the rotors when installing new pads, if the new pads are of a similar or more aggressive grade.

Performance Needs

Because heat is the primary byproduct of friction, brake pads must endure enough heat to serve the demand placed on them. The more work a brake pad is asked to do, the more heat it will generate. For normal driving, not much heat is generated and a lower grade pad is required. For more sporting or performance driving, braking demands are increased and pads which withstand more heat are required. The main difference in pads of varying capability is how much heat they can withstand before breaking down and "fading."

If pads of too low a grade are used in a performance application, repeated braking will result in fade and, in many cases, violent vibration. Often mis-stated as "warping" of the rotors, this shaking comes though the steering wheel and the brake pedal. It is the result of brake pads over-heating and coating the rotors with an excess of transfer material. If the user experiences this shaking, it is first recommended to attempt installing more aggressive brake pads and bedding them in, as this often clears the old, irregular transfer layer.

Noise and Dust

Common concerns with brake pads are with the degree of noise and dust they generate. The ability to cope with higher performance demands will often require more aggressive materials in the pads, which can, but don't always, cause more noise and dust. Rotor wear can be a concern as well. Therefore it is recommended to only choose the brake pad which has enough capability for the performance needed, and not to install pads which have a greater capability than necessary.

Compound Selection

How does one know what pads will perform the best for them for their daily or occasional use? It can be very hard to know. Finding a pad suggested for one's normal driving needs is the best place to start. To find the pad that works best for any given situation may involve trial and error across different brands.

Sizing

Brake pad sizing is recorded and cataloged by the Friction Materials Standards Institute (FMSI). FMSI records OE brake pad sizing and gives unique pad dimensions a number (FMSI number). While some manufacturers will note that applications will vary from one part number to the next, the FMSI number is the common thread across all manufacturers. For this reason, Heeltoeauto.com will strive to not only present manufacturer part number and catalog data, but FMSI codes as well.

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