Brake Check: Picking the Right Pads for Your Classic

Brake pad technology has come a long way. Two of the latest breakthroughs include ceramic and semi-metallic pads. Learn more about Classic Gold pads at

One of the easiest ways to increase your car’s stopping performance is to select the right compounds for your brakes, as well as the pads and shoes. Spending lots of time and money retrofitting trick, aftermarket big brakes could be a waste if you haven’t first maximized your current brake setup.

What’s the secret to choosing the right pad or shoe? Obtaining a basic understanding of your needs and then matching them to the proper compounds. Brake pads and shoes, like a lot of things in this world, are available in a large number of flavors. Some are good, and others are so-so. Brake compounds designed for street use can generally be broken down into several families.

Organic: These are the inexpensive pads that you can get at the local parts shop; essentially, you get what you pay for. Organic pads are made of natural fibers and minerals, and their metallic content is generally less than 20 percent.

Their friction coefficient—how well they grip against the rotor or drum surface—is very low, and they can’t handle the high temperatures associated with any sort of performance driving. While they’re inexpensive, they’re not designed for any kind of sporting use. Push them too hard, and they’ll fade.

Semi-Metallic: These are a step in the right direction. Expect to find much more metal in the mix—probably iron, but maybe brass or bronze—along with a better binder. (The binder is the material that holds the pad together.)

The friction coefficient is higher, meaning the pads will provide more bite against the rotor, while they also offer better fade resistance. They also tend to dust and squeal less than organic pads while offering longer life.

Ceramic: One of the latest innovations in brake technology is the ceramic pad. Ceramic compounds are blended with copper to create a pad material that offers excellent performance along with no squeal.

And there’s one more bonus: no black dust. “Ceramic brake pads typically produce lower quantities of visible brake dust than traditional pad materials, so they keep our clean rims looking clean longer,” explains Patrick Caherty, an automotive brake systems engineer.

Pick Your Pad
Today’s technology has given the car enthusiasts a wide range of choices when shopping for brake pads. Fortunately, going with the good stuff doesn’t cost much more than the basic products, making the decision a bit easier.

Photos: CeramicPads-ClassicGold.jpg, SemiMetallicPads-ClassicGold.jpg
Caption: Brake pad technology has come a long way. Two of the latest breakthroughs include ceramic and semi-metallic pads. Learn more about Classic Gold pads at

Don’t Squeal on Me
When shopping for brake pads, don’t forget the anti-squeal shims. They’re usually not included with the inexpensive organic pads, so they need to be ordered separately. However, premium products like the Classic Gold Premium Ceramic Brake Pad Set and the Classic Gold Semi-Metallic Brake Pad Set have their own anti-squeal compound bonded directly to the back of the pad.

Your Brakes are an Entire System
Besides choosing the correct brake pads or shoes for your application, there are some other ways to increase your car’s braking performance. Fortunately, most of these items will not cost much.

If you can’t remember the last time you changed your brake fluid, do so now. Brake fluid absorbs moisture over time, which causes a large number of problems: spongy brake feel, rusting components, etc. When buying fluid, take a look at the dry boiling point. The higher the dry boiling point, the better the fluid is for racing. A high wet boiling point is more important for a street car.

When you stomp on your brake pedal, the fluid not only pushes through the brake lines, but it also pushes against the brake lines, causing inefficiency in the system. How can you combat this loss? Replace the stock rubber brake hoses with braided stainless-steel lines. The swap is fairly easy and inexpensive. Expect a firmer pedal when done.

Master Cylinder:
Is your master cylinder old? Then either replace or rebuild it right away. As the heart of the braking system, a master cylinder’s health is vital to proper braking.

Pedal Covers:
It may seem simple, but slippery brake pedal covers can hamper braking. Ever step on the brakes and have your foot slip off the pedal? Whether you install some fresh, original-equipment rubber pedal covers or aftermarket aluminum pieces, you’ll be in better shape.

Photo: 588-630_MGBSlottedRotors.jpg
Brake rotors can last a long time, but they don’t last forever. If they’re suffering from uneven pad deposits or have reached their minimum thickness, perhaps it is time to order some replacements.

'Brake Check: Picking the Right Pads for Your Classic' has 1 comment

  1. March 29, 2015 @ 7:08 pm William Green

    Picking the correct brake pads should be a no brainer. Never use cheap brake parts, economy tires, lubricants, or fluids. If you do, it may not be tomorrow but at sometime down the road (literally) at the worst time possible, the classic you say you love WILL fail & it won’t be her fault.


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