Carbon Fiber vs. Ceramic Brake Pads: Which Is Better?

As a workshop owner, I’ve had the opportunity to work extensively with carbon fiber and ceramic brake pads—the two most popular options on the market. So, time and time again, customers ask me the same question: Which one is better, Carbon Fiber or Ceramic Brake Pads?

Well, in short, carbon fiber brake pads excel at heat management, durability, and stopping power – perfect for track enthusiasts who demand unparalleled braking performance for extreme driving. 

On the other hand, ceramics offer a quieter, cleaner drive with reduced dust and a lower price tag, making them ideal for those seeking a premium daily driving experience. Let’s explore the differences in more detail through a comparison of my carbon fiber vs. ceramic brake pads.

Carbon Fiber vs. Ceramic Brake Pads

What Are Carbon Fiber Brake Pads?

Carbon fiber brake pads are made specifically for braking systems with carbon fiber brake surfaces, like high-performance wheels or brakes. 

They combine the stopping power and toughness of regular brake pads with the heat resistance of carbon fiber, giving exceptional braking for sporty driving.

But let’s not confuse carbon fiber brake pads with their more advanced and expensive counterparts, carbon ceramic brakes, which use a blend of silicon and carbon fiber. And this advanced technology comes at a premium, which is why they are primarily seen in race cars and aircrafts.

Most drivers use carbon fiber pads to get stronger brakes than stock, with less dust and noise. The carbon fiber reinforces the pads, so they grip well without issues. It’s a great, affordable upgrade if you want better brakes for everyday driving too, not just track days.

What are Ceramic Brake Pads?

Ceramic brake pads are made of ceramics and copper fibers. This allows them to handle really high braking temperatures without getting as dusty as regular pads. Car brands like Mercedes, Lexus, and Land Rovers tend to use them since they feel more premium.

They’re quieter when braking and don’t spread as much black dust on your wheels. Ceramic pads also last longer than other types. This makes them perfect for places with lots of salt on the roads in winter since salt can wear out regular pads quicker.

The downside is they cost more. And in super cold weather, you might not stop as fast as with other pads until they warm up. Towing heavy stuff can put more stress on them, too. Ceramic pads are mostly used by those who commute in the city or drive a lot in the urban environment.

Carbon Fiber vs. Ceramic Brake Pads: What are the Differences?

Carbon Fiber vs. Ceramic Brake Pads: What are the Differences?

Both ceramic and carbon fiber brake pads are widely used today. While they serve the same purpose, they have distinct differences.

Let’s explore what sets them apart in terms of various aspects. I’ll begin with heat management – the major factor affecting their overall performance.

At a Glance

FeatureCarbon Fiber Brake PadsCeramic Brake Pads
Heat ManagementExcellent heat resistance. It can handle extreme temperatures without fadingVery good heat resistance, better than regular pads, but may fade at very high temps
DurabilityExtremely durable, long-lastingDurable but wears out faster than carbon fiber
Brake Fade ResistanceSuperior resistance to brake fadeGood resistance to brake fade, better than regular pads
Stopping PowerExcellent stopping power, strong biteGood stopping power. But it may lack initial bite compared to semi-metallic
Dust ProductionModerate dust productionMinimal dust production, keep wheels cleaner
Noise LevelIt can be louder, especially when coldVery quiet operation
CostModerately expensiveMore expensive than carbon fiber

Heat Management

Heat Management

When it comes to handling heat, carbon fiber brake pads have the edge over ceramics.

They’re engineered to perform perfectly, even under extreme braking heat. That means your brakes will feel the same whether you’re driving casually or pushing it to the limit on a track.

Ceramic pads are still much better than other types of regular pads at dealing with heat. But carbon fiber can handle temperatures that would cause regular ceramics to start to fade.

So, in performance driving, where the brakes get very hot, carbon fiber shines because nothing bothers them. Yet, regular ceramics are also great for street use on high-end cars. 

But if you do a lot of track days or autocross, carbon fiber pads will give you that extra heat resistance, allowing you to brake harder for longer.


Carbon fiber brake pads last a really long time. They’re super tough and don’t break down quickly at all. That’s why you often see them on racing cars and heavy trucks that need to stop big loads without issues.

Regular ceramic pads are still durable but definitely don’t last as long as carbon fiber ones. The reason is that ceramics don’t spread heat from the brakes as well. So, more of that heat ends up wearing out the pads themselves over time.

Brake Fade

Brake Fade

Carbon fiber is harder to beat when it comes to dealing with brake fade. Brake fade happens when your brakes get too hot and stop working. But carbon fiber can handle way more heat before anything like that happens.

Ceramic pads are pretty resistant to fade, too. They’re much better than regular brakes. But carbon fiber may have them edged out, since they can take the real extreme heat without issues.

Stopping Power

Carbon fiber brakes outshine ceramic brakes in terms of stopping power as well. They grip harder than regular metal or semimetal brakes, which is awesome for track driving or panicked braking.

Yet, how well your whole car stops depends more on traction with the road. Lightweight cars can feel like they don’t slow down as much. 

Where carbon ceramic really helps is resisting fade over time. Their superior heat dissipation means your braking stays strong even after hard use. This is vital for track days when the brakes get scorching.

Regular ceramic pads are also good at managing heat. But they may not have as much bite as semi-metallic brakes, especially when it’s freezing out.

Dust Production

Dust Production

Ceramic brake pads are better than carbon fiber ones when it comes to dust. Ceramics are known for making much less messy dust than regular pads, such as semi-metallic or organic pads, so you won’t have to clean your wheels as often.

This is one of the big draws of ceramic pads – keeping things cleaner, which is why so many luxury cars use them. Carbon fiber pads are an improvement over regular metals, but they might kick up a bit more dust than ceramics. 

Noise Level

For quiet braking, ceramic pads usually have the edge over carbon fiber ones. That’s because ceramic pads make way less dust than other kinds. And dust accumulation on the rotors is a major cause of brake noise.

Ceramic brakes are also meant to give smooth, even braking. This consistency helps keep things hushed.

Some people say carbon fiber pads can be louder than regular steel brakes, especially at first or when driving casually instead of aggressively. The extra heat probably helps them settle in and get less noisy.


Ceramic brake pads usually have a higher price tag than carbon fiber ones. That’s because ceramics cost more to make.

But the upside is that they’ll go longer between replacements and save money in the long run by reducing wear on other brake parts.

In contrast, despite its higher durability, Carbon fiber manufacturing is cheaper, so their pads tend to range from $25 to $60 each—pretty reasonable for drivers looking for an upgrade.

Which One Should You Pick?

As you can see, both brake pad types have their pros, so think about your needs. Carbon fiber is amazing if you track your car hard or tow heavy loads regularly. Their heat resistance and stopping power are unbeatable in extreme conditions.

Then again, if you want brakes that stay super quiet on daily drives without dusting up your wheels, ceramic is the way to go. They’ll also probably last longer than other types for street use.

Personally, I’d go with carbon fiber since it handles anything you throw at it, from spirited driving to full-blown racing. And it costs less than other high-performance options while still delivering awesome braking everywhere, from the road to the track.

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