Historically, brake pads were contained asbestos. Asbestos was a great heat-absorbent material and worked quite well for the stresses that brake pads endured. Over time however, it was found to be an extremely dangerous carcinogen which could lead to cancer when prolonged exposure occurred. Over time, as brake pads wore down the dangerous substance onto the tires where it could get into the air. To resolve this problem, manufacturers started creating a safer compound for use on brake pads.
The result of this shift was a new generation of organic brake pads, otherwise known as non-asbestos organic brake pads (NAO).
Typical Organic Brake Pad
These days, organic pads are found on most vehicles in the United States. Organic brake pads, commonly referred to today as “NAO” or Non-Asbestos Organic are typically manufactured with only natural materials. The two main organic materials used are actually glass and rubber. More advanced organic brake pad models may also contain Kevlar and/or high-tech fibers.
High performance fibers are used widely for their light weight, high strength, abrasion resistance and thermal stability.
Organic brake pads are generally an ideal pad for all types of cars, light-duty trucks, motorcycles, ATV’s, and other vehicles. The organic brake pad types are often used by experienced drivers and riders who prefer the “feel” of organic pads. Many organic pads feature expansion grooves to reduce noise and prevent cracking. The incorporation of advanced fiber compounds and non-ferrous particles helps to prevent surface “scorching” under load.
Organic brake pads typically incorporate backing plates with enhanced retention to reduce the chance of brake pad de-bonding due to corrosion or extended use.
One thing you’ll surely love about organic brake pads is that they’re quiet when you apply the brakes. Organic brake pads also have a softer feel. But the best part is that organic brake pads are on the inexpensive side and a great option for the average car owner on a budget.
Organic brake pads will serve you well if you’re a casual driver who regularly drives around their town or city. As for long-distance, sport, or commercial drivers, you may not get good results with organic brake pads. The organic materials tend to be less durable than ceramic or semi-metallic compounds. If you frequently apply your brakes at faster speeds, the organic brake pad materials suffer from increased temperature and additional wear and tear. If you’re not careful, the organic brake pads can quickly overheat especially if they’re worn down enough and their thermal mass is reduced.