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Ceramic vs. Semi-metallic Brake Pads

Ceramic vs. Semi-metallic Brake Pads

When replacing your brake pads, there are several different options. Over the years, brake pads have evolved from asbestos to organic, to semi-metallic and ceramic. Understanding the difference between the options is key to optimizing your driving experience and protecting your vehicle.

At Sears Auto Center, we offer semi-metallic, ceramic and organic brake pads. We’ve broken down the difference between semi-metallic and ceramic pads below.

Introduced in the 1980s, ceramic brake pads are composed of a blend of super-strong ceramic and copper fibers embedded into the pad compound. The ceramic compounds and copper fibers allow ceramic pads to handle higher brake temperatures with less heat fade, provide faster recovery after the stop and generate less dust.


  • Quieter than semi-metallic pads
  • Produce less dust than semi-metallic pads, resulting in cleaner wheels
  • Longer lasting than semi-metallic pads, due to improved durability


  • More expensive upfront than semi-metallic pads
  • Generally cause more wear on brake rotors than metallic
  • Not recommended for racing or heavy-duty towing

Semi-metallic brake pads are made with portions of metallic fibers in the brake pad compound. High quality semi-metallic pads contain fine metallic fibers while lower, cheaper quality pads have larger, more coarse portions of metal.


  • Effective grip even when cold – great for colder climates and driving habits that require short trips
  • Less expensive than ceramic pads
  • Typically easier on rotors than ceramic pads
  • Available in track-ready and heavy-duty towing formulations


  • Louder than ceramic pads
  • Generate more black dust that sticks to wheels
  • Shorter life span than ceramic pads

If you do a lot of heavy-towing, race your vehicle on a regular basis, live in a colder climate, or make frequent short trips without adequate time for your brake pads to warm up, semi-metallic pads are for you. If you live in a warmer climate, spend a lot of time on the road, and tend not to tow heavy loads, ceramic brake pads are the better choice. However, always refer to your vehicle’s manufacturer for recommendations and consult the experts at Sears Auto Center to help best meet or exceed those recommendations.

Come into Sears Auto Center to have your brake pads inspected and check out all our brake service options. 

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