Ceramic brake pad linings are a relatively new compound in the automotive industry. Cars first started coming equipped with ceramic brake pads in the early 90's. The ceramic compounds have changed significantly since the first introduction into the marketplace. Initial concerns with the original ceramic compounds focused on the reduced stopping power with cold brakes, and premature wear of the rotors. This was because the original compound was adapted from automotive racing, and when you are racing a vehicle the brakes are being treated in a very different way than during every day driving situations. Tires, brakes and the engine reach a significantly higher operating temperature in race vehicles and this is the temperature that the ceramic components were designed to operate in. The ceramic materials are now more suitable for every day driving and are considered an upgrade regardless of whether the vehicle was originally equipped with semi-metallic, ceramic, or organic pads.
All brake pads perform as required, meaning they stop your vehicle when you put your foot on the brake pedal. That said, while there are advantages with all brake lining compounds the only advantage that the semi-metallic pad offers is an incredibly low price. Alternately, Ceramic Brake Pads offer some notable advantages. First and foremost, the ceramic pad does not create a visible brake dust that blackens your wheels. If you have wheels that you are proud of, ie chrome or wheels that cost more than your vehicle; you will be a big fan of the ceramic brake pad. The second advantage is the reduced tendency to squeal. The ceramic compound does not contain steel fibers; the metal content in some semi-metallic pads was found to be the source of brake squeal for some manufacturers. The ceramic compound also typically lasts longer than a semi-metallic compound, and this is seen as an advantage with most vehicles, because pads typically wear out quicker than the rotors. Finding a perfect balance of wear between rotors and pads, so that rotors need to be replaced at the same time as the pads do, is the ideal situation. Ceramics typically help make this happen, but most vehicles' brake designs are quite different and this is not always the case.
Once you are aware of the differences between the two primary brake pads on the market the choice becomes clear. If you are replacing the brake pads on your daily driver pay the incrementally higher price and purchase the clearly superior ceramic brake pads. If you are only trying to keep that old beater alive for another year then maybe you will find the semi-metallic's to be the very capable and certainly more economic choice.
Source by Shane White