A common worry many people have in winter is whether their ceramic brake pads can cope with the plunging temperatures, especially when the roads become icy or when the snow turns to slush. Many distributors and resellers are also often hesitant to recommend the “best” brake pads for use in winter as every type of brake pad (whether ceramic, semi-metallic, or low-metallic) will have its own advantages and disadvantages in winter and the “best” brake pad for your vehicle will depend on the vehicle itself.
Braking in icy conditions will often be much more difficult than in any other weather condition due to the increased risk of skidding, as although heavy rain or loose road surfaces can contribute to skidding, icy skids can occur with little notice!
While ceramic brake pads are often considered top of the range due to their price point and performance, they can have some downfalls in winter and may not always be the best option for use in winter.
Do ceramic brakes work in the cold?
While ceramic brake pads are not ideal in extremely cold conditions, they will still work in the cold weather – but it might take some extra care! Generally, cold brake pads (of any material) can be considered less efficient as brake pads need to warm up for optimal braking power. As ceramic is extremely good at dissipating the heat created during braking, they also require a little longer to warm up and be fully efficient. Saying that, most people will not notice a difference in performance overall, but it’s just something to be mindful of if you’re driving in sub-zero temperatures as the extra pressure exerted when braking can wear your brake pads quicker.
Do ceramic brakes squeal when cold?
Yes – and this is normal! In fact, all brake pads will squeal for a few reasons: firstly, the brake pads have an optimal working temperature and below this, they can become noisy and squeal as they are frozen and less effective (insufficient friction causes the noise). Additionally, in winter and in icy and snowy conditions, local councils and communities will often grit or salt the roads which can mean that solid particles can get stuck between the brake pad and rotor (brake disc) – these particles can prevent the brake pads from making full contact with the rotor, so the squealing you hear is actually the debris scratching the rotor.
What brake pads are best for cold weather?
Bridgestone Tires and some other tyre manufacturers often make the case that any type of brake pad can suitable for cold weather as long as it’s accompanied with appropriate tyres for the weather conditions – and this is very true! Efficient braking is down to how well your brake pads and rotors align and the pressure exerted to stop the vehicle; as well as the tyres’ grip on the road itself. Generally speaking, brake pads with a metallic component – whether semi metallic or low metallic – will perform better in colder temperatures as they’re capable of reaching their optimal operating temperature faster as they dissipate heat slower than ceramic brake pads.
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