Why ceramic brakes are good
A lot of people might have noticed ceramic brakes, or rather ceramic brake components for sale at many fine auto parts stores. They might also have noticed the premiums being charged for them. There is a reason for it; ceramic materials are harder to create than steel, as the right ceramic composite has to be engineered and the process for making stuff out of ceramics is more difficult than with metals.
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Ceramic brakes and especially ceramic brake pads, according to HowStuffWorks, offer an advantage over steel brakes in that they dissipate heat much better. Braking is accomplished by applying friction to the wheel rotor, slowing it down. Friction creates heat. The less heat in the brakes, the more friction. Ergo, less heat retention, the better the braking.
Pads and rotors
The term “ceramic brakes” is a bit misleading, because only a few components are bettered by being constructed from ceramic composites, namely the brake pads and the brake rotors. Ceramic discs, according to AutoGuide, don’t warp as easily under heat compared to steel brake pads and rotors and last longer than regular components. For instance, Brembo carbon ceramic brake discs, found on a number of sports cars from the Chevrolet Corvette to the Pagani Zonda, and also every car Ferrari makes, will last an estimated 93,000 miles under normal conditions.
For normal car applications, such as on the typical family sedan, some might wonder if ceramics are a worthy purchase. They aren’t that much more expensive, as a set of ceramic brake pads can cost as little as $20 more than metal pads. It’s not as if adding them will require an auto refinance to afford them and if they last twice as long, why not? Well, there are a few reasons.
Application and efficacy
A person might notice that carbon-ceramic or ceramic brakes are more common on sports cars. On a serious machine, such as a Porsche 911, the added cost of ceramic brakes might make sense. On a track-day toy or car one is doing auto-cross with, absolutely, but it might just be throwing one’s money away on a normal car.
Or maybe not; AutoGuide reports that some testing has shown metallic brake performance is comparable if not just as good, on some very high-power cars, like on a Dodge Viper, BMW M6, Nissan GT-R and Audi R8. Also, as AutoGuide points out, stopping distances depend just as much on road conditions and how well the tires grip the road.
Another drawback is that ceramic brakes don’t perform as well in the wet or during cold weather, according to Popular Mechanics, which is something to bear in mind if one lives in a place where there’s a lot of precipitation and colder winters.