Are Brake Pads Universal for All Kinds of Vehicles?

Are brake pads universal?” is a common question among drivers who have brake pads that are expensive or difficult to find. This is because a car’s braking system is useless without the pads and driving without them is only a recipe for disaster.

Are Brake Pads Universal

That is why many wonder if they can use any type of brake pad in the absence of the ones they normally use for their cars.

If you are part of those who are curious about brake pads, then continue reading this article to discover the answer.

Are Vehicle Brake Pads Universal?

No, vehicle brake pads are not universal because every vehicle comes with its unique type, even if the cars are of the same size. It is dangerous to use brake pads from a vehicle for another vehicle. This can destroy parts of the braking system and result in an accident.

Brake pads perform most of the tasks when it comes to stopping vehicles, therefore, they are subject to constant wear and tear. They require replacement regularly and remember to replace brake pads with the same size and design as the broken ones.

Car manufacturers design brake pads based on several factors, including the size and design of the car. This is why using the wrong brake pad is not advisable as it won’t fit well into the disc brakes.

– How They Function

Brake pads are pads that are located between the brake rotor and the brake caliper. They function by pressing tightly against the rotor of the vehicle and converting the rotational kinetic energy of the spinning rotor into thermal energy. This brings the vehicle to a stop.

How They Function

Each wheel has two disc brake pads and each axle has four brake pads. Two of these pads are placed between each brake caliper of each wheel. When your brake pedal is pressed down, it sends a hydraulic force that pushes the brake calipers, which in turn, forces the pads against the spinning rotor.

What Are the Types of Brake Pad Materials?

The types of brake pad materials are organic, ceramic and semi-metallic, and each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes, brake pads are differentiated according to their sizes, shapes and brands. When it comes to the best, it all boils down to preference.

Due to the nature of their work, disc brake pads are made with friction materials that help in stopping the vehicle. Thus, the pad type depends on the type of materials that generates the frictional force necessary to bring the car to a halt. Using inferior materials means that the car may take a long time to stop and the pads themselves will wear out faster.

– Organic Brake Pads

Also known as Non-asbestos disc brake pads, these pads are made from natural materials such as glass, rubber, kevlar and other organic compounds. They were manufactured after it was discovered that the old materials (asbestos) used in making the pads caused serious health problems when released into the air. Gradually, the asbestos-based pads were phased out and the automakers turned to organic materials.

Some automakers use these pads because they make less noise when they clamp the rotors of the wheel. Also, they prolong the life of the spinning rotor by applying less pressure compared to other types. Another advantage is that they are cheaper than the others and they do a good job as well. However, their downside is that they perform poorly in extreme weather conditions due to the organic materials used in making them.

Also, since the materials are less stronger than their competition, they tend to wear off faster. Probably, that is why they are inexpensive. However, if the weather is fine and you drive with caution, you should be able to use them a bit longer.

– Semi-metallic Brake Pads

This kind of brake pad is made up of fillers and metallic content to make them stronger than organic pads. The amount of metal in them can range anywhere from 30 percent to 70 percent and the metals are either copper, composite alloys, steel or iron. Depending on the type of metal used, the semi-metallic pads offer a variety of advantages. These braking pads offer excellent braking performance and withstand more heat generated by the frictional force.

Semi Metallic Brake Pads

They are great conductors of heat, thus they quickly distribute the heat to prevent the braking system from overheating. This helps them to perform better in extreme temperatures and only needs a little pressure for them to stop the rotor from spinning. However, they are noisier than their organic counterparts and can put a lot of stress on the brake rotors, causing them to easily wear.

These are quite expensive compared to organic ones and generate a lot of brake dust, which can be harmful to your health. This type of pad is considered better than organic pads but the next one is the best.

– Ceramic Brake Pads

The third type of brake pad is made from denser and thicker ceramic and is the newest type on the market. During the manufacturing process, fine copper fiber is added to enhance friction and the transfer of heat. Since their development in the 80s, ceramic pads have grown in demand due to their numerous benefits.

Ceramic Brake Pads

First, they hardly make any noise when they are engaged and they generate less brake dust. They perform better under extreme weather conditions than semi-metallic ones and are very reliable. However, their high cost due to the materials used in producing them can be a turn-off.

The ceramic brake pads don’t absorb heat easily, therefore, it passes the heat to the rest of the braking system. This can destroy some of the components of the braking system. They are also the most expensive of the lot and are featured as OEM pads in modern luxury cars.

What Are the Factors to Consider When Choosing a Brake Pad?

The factors to consider when choosing a brake pad for your vehicle include size, shape, brand, material and purpose. This is because there are many different brake pads on the market and choosing the right kind can be a headache; but don’t worry, this guide should help.

– The Size of Wheels, Vehicle and Brake Rotors

Size is the most important factor when it comes to selecting the best brake pad for your vehicle. “Size” here doesn’t only refer to the magnitude of the brake pad but it includes the size of the vehicle, front and rear rotors, wheels and brake rotors. The size of your wheels will determine the size of brake pads to use; small wheels require small brake pads and vice versa. However, there are a few exemptions but generally, wheel size determines brake pad size.

Brake rotor size also dictates the size of the brake pad because the pad presses the rotors to bring the car to a stop. A small pad on a big rotor may not function properly and can cause accidents on road accidents. Also, the size of a vehicle most often determines the size of the brake pad. Bigger vehicles like pickup trucks would need bigger pads because of the extra weight that they may carry; mini-cars would require smaller pads to help stop the vehicle.

Finally, the location of the brake pad on your vehicle also determines the size that you’ll need. Generally, brake pads in the front wheel are larger than the brake pads in the rear wheels because the vehicle’s weight puts pressure on the front wheels whenever the brakes are applied. Thus, the large front pads help to absorb the weight of the vehicle while applying frictional force to the rotors to stop the vehicle.

– The Shape of the Brake Pad

Brake pads come in a wide variety of shapes including square, half-circle, or hexagon depending on the shape of the brake rotor or the purpose of the vehicle. The brake pads also feature channels or angles that are cut through them and these have various functions. Some channels are designed to reduce noise, gasses, or heat when the pads press against the rotor. The angled cutout on both sides of the brake pads is referred to as chamfers.

The Shape of the Brake Pad

There are four types of chamfers: parallel, radial, Compound and V chamfers, all of which have unique functions. The parallel chamfers are in two varieties; basic parallel chamfers which are designed for noise reduction and J-scoop chamfers made to reduce wear.

The radial chamfers are designed to fit the curve nature of the brake pad while the compound chamfer combines parallel and radial chamfer. The compound chamfers are designed to allow the pads to have maximum contact with the rotors for effective braking. The V-chamfers mitigate brake pad vibrations and the noise generated during braking.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Size Brake Pads Do You Need?

The size of brake pads you need depends on factors such as the size of your wheels, vehicle and brake rotors. However, when it comes to the thickness of the pads, most vehicles require between ¼ inches and ⅛ inches, but it’s best to contact a professional for help.

2. Are All Road Bike Brake Pads Universal?

Yes, all road bike brake pads are universal, however, they are made of different chemical compounds. Some pads are made of soft non-metallic chemical compounds while others are hard metallic. There are slight variations in sizes as well, but it won’t make a big difference when used.

3. Are Motorcycle Brake Pads Universal?

No, motorcycle brake pads are not universal because each brand of motorcycle uses its unique calipers. Some brands from different manufacturers use similar brake pads but caution should be exercised. If you’re unsure of which brake pads to use, contact a professional mechanic.


In a nutshell, brake pads are not universal, therefore, drivers should either check the car manual for guidance or consult a professional mechanic for help.

Here are a few other things that we’ve discovered in this article:

  • Brake pads are not universal because different factors go into manufacturing them.
  • Some pads are designed for the size of the vehicle, wheel and brake rotors while other pads are made to tackle specific problems such as noise reduction during braking.
  • Brake pads work to stop a vehicle when the pedals are depressed, sending a force to press the calipers which, in turn, presses the brake rotors.
  • The types of brake pads are an indication of the type of materials used in making them, which include organic, semi-metallic and ceramic.
  • Non-asbestos brake pads are cheaper but wear easily, while ceramic pads are expensive and take longer to wear.

Semi metallic brake pads contain metals and are more effective at braking than organic pads. However, they generate a lot of harmful brake dust.

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