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Semi Metallic brake pads vs Ceramic

MrPulldown

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OEM is Ceramic. However I read recently that we should use semi-M due to the weight of the car as they grab better. Is there a consensus to this.

Our Ex had terribly worn brakes when I first got it. Contact was uneven and pads worn. I replaced the front brakes with some inexpensive OE equivalent package off of Amazon that had decent reviews. The pads were ceramic. While I was in there I RR the slide pins, bleed the calipers, and did a decent break in. Though it increased my braking perform, it did not decrease my stopping distance as much as I thought it should.

Now I want to address the rears. Not going to go with anything high performance. And I know that the rears only contribute to a much smaller % of total braking power. But should I look into getting some semi metallic pads.
 
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ROBinGa

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I have always changed mine and use semi metallic. Yes they are dirtier but if you do any hauling or towing and have any extra weight I would feel better knowing I had brakes that stop than those that are cleaner. I'm sure this is personal preference for many who will say ceramic perform just as well. The last pads and rotors I got were from Rock Auto and I think I went with Wagner pads and AC Delco rotors. Work great
 
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Drewmcg

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I bought from RockAuto "economy" Aimco "OE Ceramic" front and rear pads (under $15 per axle) for my '02 XLS a couple years ago (along with rebuilt Aimco front calipers and sexy red Powerstop rear calipers). I also bought one front "economy" Aimco rotor and one front "daily driver" Wagner (both wholesaler closeouts)--yeah, I know, different brand rotors on the front axle, right?!--that's how I role.... No slotted or drilled rotors here. Two Centric "daily driver" "premium" rotors on the back axle.

I find braking to be superb. My ABS system is not operative due to mice chewing some wires I did not manage to properly re-splice. I can lock all four wheels with some effort (not that I ever do). While semi-metalic are supposed to have a quicker "bite" than ceramics, I cannot imagine you'd notice that on the back wheels with ceramics on the front.

If your right leg strength is challenged, or you are hauling a super heavy load, I suppose you could replace pads all around with semi-metallic and live with the brake dust and quicker rotor wear. Would not be my choice, however.
 
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MrPulldown

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THat sounds good. During my pad break in, I tried to lock up or activate my ABS: couldn't. I was standing on the brake pedal too.
 
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Coolhand20th

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I use Callahan drilled/slotted rotors on any vehicle I own with ceramic pads front and back from either Newtek which is Carquest brand, Callahan or from Centric's. I tow my dad's snowmobile trailer w/ two snowmobiles and I have never have an issue with braking. Just break them in the right way and you're fine. I despise semi-metallic brake pads and will never use them again. But you do have your people who will only do semi-metallics on these vehicles because of them being a SUV. I used ceramics on our Z-71 Extended Cab and was towing a car trailer w/ a drag race car, or our old 4 place enclosed snowmobile trailer loaded down with all our equipment in the trailer, never an issue stopping. With towing just have to use your common sense and not do 70mph with a trailer.
 
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boominXplorer

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Semi metallic will always grab better but it's comes at the cost of wearing the rotors. Ceramic pads don't wear the rotors near as bad. Semi metallics will almost always outperform but there are some really good ceramic pads out there. I run slotted rotors and ceramic pads on 35s and the rotors look nice and smooth with no glazing after 15k haaaard miles.
 
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Drewmcg

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THat sounds good. During my pad break in, I tried to lock up or activate my ABS: couldn't. I was standing on the brake pedal too.

Time to flush out all the old brake fluid and replace with new (i.e., not just bleed)?
 
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TechGuru

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Front: Wagner SX833 SevereDuty Semi-Metallic
MWG_SX833_P04_TOP__ra_p.jpg


Rear: Wagner SX881 SevereDuty Semi-Metallic
MWG_SX881_P04_TOP__ra_p.jpg


Brake Rotors
Front: Wagner BD125758E Black E-Coat
Rear: Wagner BD125759E Black E-Coat

Organic Brake Pads

Organic brake pads (also known as NAO, or “non-asbestos organic”) were developed as an alternative to asbestos pads, composed of various fibers mixed with binding resins to hold them together. Some common materials used in organic brake pads include glass, fiber, rubber, carbon and Kevlar. The materials and tools used to manufacture organic brake pads are still the least expensive today, which is why the majority (roughly 70%) of new cars sold in the US still come with them from the factory.

Pros:
• Soft, quiet, easy on brake rotors
• Don’t require much heat to generate good friction
• Produce less dust than metallic pads
• Low manufacturing cost
• Suitable for normal driving/commuting across many environments
• Perfect for every day vehicles and drivers

Cons:
• Only operate well within a relatively limited temperature range
• Wear out quickly compared to other types of brake pads
• High compressibility – can cause “mushy” brake pedal feel
Will quickly lose their coefficient of friction when overheated
• Not at all suitable for performance driving

Semi-Metallic Brake Pads

As the name implies, semi-metallic pads contain anywhere from 30-65% metal by weight, typically consisting of steel, iron, copper, etc. combined with friction modifiers and fillers, as well as a graphite lubricant. Semi-metallic brake pads are arguably the most versatile style available, with the slight compromise being more noise and dust. They are also longer lasting and more durable, and their metallic composition can help draw heat away from the rotor and aid in more efficient brake cooling.

Pros:
Dramatically increased braking performance over organic pads
Have a much higher thermal threshold due to metallic content
Still provide good cold bite
Have a much wider operating range (temperature)
• Low compressibility – will provide a firmer brake pedal feel
Much more resistant to brake fade than organic pads
• Numerous compounds available – suitable for anything from daily street driving to extreme track use

Cons:
• Tend to be noisier than organic or ceramic pads
• Produce more brake dust
• More abrasive than other types of pads – will wear brake rotors more quickly
• More expensive than organic pads (but generally cheaper than ceramic)
• Require careful and proper bedding-in for best performance

Ceramic Brake Pads

The comparative new kid on the block is the ceramic brake pad. Ceramic pads are composed of a dense ceramic material (like pottery fired in a kiln) with embedded copper fibers. In use since the 1980s, ceramic pads were developed as an alternative replacement for organic and semi-metallic brake pads because at the time these types produced too much noise and dust. Ceramic pads are also generally easier on rotors than semi-metallic pads.

Pros:
• Quieter than semi-metallic pads – emit noises that are above the range of human hearing
• Produce finer, lighter-colored brake dust which does not stick to wheels
• Longer lifespan than organic or semi-metallic
• Stable under a wide range of temperatures for consistent performance

Cons:
• Typically the most-expensive type of brake pad
Do not produce as much cold bite as semi-metallic pads – may not be ideal in extremely cold climates
Do not absorb heat as well as semi-metallic pads which can increase brake system temperatures
• Good all-around braking characteristics but were never designed as heavy duty/racing brake pads
 
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Coolhand20th

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Ceramics work fine in cold weather climates. I live where it can get down to -30 plus -40 mph wind chills and never an issue, and that is on top of pulling a snowmobile trailer loaded down with 2 sleds and other various equipment we've brought inside the cab back before I got hurt. They can absorb just fine as well if you get quality pads and use good rotors. Problem is people buy junk chinese crap off Amazon and eBay. That explorer I just bought has it's original ceramic pads on it, original rotors at 63,000 miles. Rotors still look great and if I didn't have the money to buy the drilled/slotted rotors that are sitting here I would have had no issues cleaning them up with a nice swirl and putting new pads on and driving it.
 
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lincolnshibuya

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I usually buy semi-metallic they are better than ceramic in terms of grip (I own a bmw and jaguar and they use semi-metallic) The cheaper ceramics are way too hard for the rotors (although most claim that they don't wear the rotor that's because they don't provide the grip) The main drawback with semi-metallic is the brake dust on your wheels especially when they are new (they'll be gone or minimal over time) You need to change your brakes often anyway (bleed) that's why I settle with semi-metallic..

Ask any mercedes benz owner on how often they have to replace their pads.
 
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ERUSH97XLT

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I think the brake pads on my '65 300SE are the same from the factory over 60 years ago. Not sure of the material but they work great to stop a 4500lb car :D. I have about 75k miles on it.

I usually stick with OE. The parts guy at my dealer says the "F" in the parts prefix indicates OEM quality (e.g., BRF for pads, BRRF for rotors).
 
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IIGood

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I just had a set of Power Stop brakes put on my '03 XLT back in June. Ceramic pads, rotors, and calipers. Got the kit off Rock Auto for ~$330 shipped, after a 6% forum discount.

I just use the Explorer for driving around, no towing...these brakes are great. Especially given the price I paid for everything.

I do stick to OEM stuff on my Mustang GT. Just had those done last week; rotors and pads.
 
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MrPulldown

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Thank you for all of the GREAT responds. Wish I asked/read this before I put those cheap ceramic pads up front. For my brakes I want stopping power. I don't care about dust or rotor wear. So i guess I will be getting semi Ms from now on. Turning rotors has gone the way of the dodo. If I have a questionable shake or larger lip from wear, I just get new ones. The cost of turning is almost the cost of rotors.

The rotors on our Ex are so ate up that I assume my father in law had semi-Ms on them. I have never seen rotors wear so unevenly. Or the pad contact be so poor.
 
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MrPulldown

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Thank you for all of the GREAT responds. Wish I asked/read this before I put those cheap ceramic pads up front. For my brakes I want stopping power. I don't care about dust or rotor wear. So i guess I will be getting semi Ms from now on. Turning rotors has gone the way of the dodo. If I have a questionable shake or larger lip from wear, I just get new ones. The cost of turning is almost the cost of rotors.

The rotors on our Ex are so ate up that I assume my father in law had semi-Ms on them. I have never seen rotors wear so unevenly. Or the pad contact be so poor.

By the way what is the forum discount code?
 
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ERUSH97XLT

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What I do whenever I do a brake job for the first time on a vehicle is I buy new rotors beforehand. I take the rotors that come off the vehicle to my local brake shop to be turned. If they can, I keep them for the next brake job down the line to eliminate downtime. If not, I've got new rotors on the car anyway. Something to think about if you go the Semi-Metallic route and plan on accelerated rotor wear.

My $0.02
 
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MrPulldown

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What I do whenever I do a brake job for the first time on a vehicle is I buy new rotors beforehand. I take the rotors that come off the vehicle to my local brake shop to be turned. If they can, I keep them for the next brake job down the line to eliminate downtime. If not, I've got new rotors on the car anyway. Something to think about if you go the Semi-Metallic route and plan on accelerated rotor wear.

My $0.02


Naaa. I'd just get new rotors every time if needed. No more turning.

As for bleeding and flushing the fuild. When I did the front brakes, I bought one of those large ~quart size jars of DOT3. Drained the MC resivour as much as I could without exposing the intake tube. Then filled with fresh and bleed. Topped off the MC as needed. Pushed about 3/4 of the bottle through.
 
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Coolhand20th

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I never cut rotors anymore. The costs of doing that vs a new rotor around here are not that much. When I was a store manager for Federated/Fisher, Napa and Carquest over the ages of 19-25. I never charged for turning rotors if you bought pads, even if they were the cheapest ones we had. Now they want minimum 15-20 bucks a rotor to cut them around here no matter what. Heck with that noise when I can get a pair of drilled/slotted rotors for 60-70 bucks shipped for my Callahan's sometimes with a set of pads with them. And I know the guys from when I lived in Illinois as I dealt with them all the time, so I just contact them directly instead of going through eBay or Amazon.
 
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TechGuru

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Drewmcg

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As a rule of thumb (no experience with "durago"), I prefer *not* buying the cheapest rotor. I have better luck with the second-cheapest! In this case (Rockauto no longer sells the AIMCO product I bought two years ago), I'd be tempted to get the Raybestos "professional grade" , https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo.php?pk=391190&cc=1377660&jsn=375, which at $25 are only $7 more per wheel than the $18 rotors you link to, or compared with a $15-$20 turn of the OEM rotors....

If you start to get warping, etc., after a few hundred miles with the cheapest rotors (has happened to me on other cars), you will regret the false economy. Might only happen every once in a while, but peace of mind is worth something.
 
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MrPulldown

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As a rule of thumb (no experience with "durago"), I prefer *not* buying the cheapest rotor. I have better luck with the second-cheapest! .

Like buying a bottle of wine at a restaurant (not that I do that).

So I just bought some medium duty Wagner Semi M and E-coated rotors from Rockauto. I use to LOVE RA. But I am beginning to not. First off my forum discount did not go through. No way to check till you submit your payment and submit. Next their shipping/tracking just showed up. Will arrive next week. Over 1 week to get my parts. Finally their shipping rates and structure SUCK. I understand that not everything has free shipping and the free means that it is hidden in the cost. OK. But then there are 3 warehouses they ship from. I had a large order or various parts for various cars and had items shipping from all 3 warehouses. I deleted the items from the other 2 warehouses. In doing so the warehouses/parts change so that I still can't get all my parts to ship from the same location.

My front rotors and pads I bought off a package from Amazon. No wonder they are becoming the go to on-line sales KING. If these parts were available from Amazon, I would have gone through them.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01H6PFDL2/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 
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