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A Guide to Selecting the Right Brake Pads for Your MX5

A lot of people who own sports cars like the Miata place a lot of emphasis on how fast their car can go from 0-100. However, it's equally important for sports cars to be able to go from 100-0 should the need arise. Your car's braking system is the most important safety feature, and it should always be kept in pristine condition.

The most important thing to pay attention to in order to ensure your brakes are fully functional and responsive are the brake pads. But before we get into the whats and hows of brake pads, let's briefly touch on the different types of braking systems found in old and new cars.

Older vehicles featured a drum system and mechanically-operated shoes, whereas newer vehicles come equipped with computer-operated ABS systems. Both systems feature parts that wear out and need to be replaced at some point. The parts that are put under most wear are the brake pads. Most people will advise you to stick with OEM replacement parts, but those who have the need for speed and thus, the need for better stoppage, are probably better off with aftermarket brake pads.

Aftermarket brake pads come in a variety of types and can be made using different materials. It's important to shop for Miata MX5 brake pads made for your specific model and make of Mazda to ensure easy installation and optimum braking performance. You should always look to get replacement MX5 brake pads before they completely wear out so that you reduce the wear on other braking parts like the rotors and callipers. Here's what you need to know before you start shopping for replacement MX5 pads.

When Should You Replace Your Brake Pads?

Most car manufacturers, including Mazda, recommend replacing your brake pads every 40.000-60.000 kilometres (every time you replace your tyres). This is simply because the tyres and pads work together to bring your car to a stop. By replacing the pads in a timely manner, you avoid having to spend money on brake rotor replacement. The brake rotors are what the pads press against when you apply pressure on the brakes. Speaking of rotors, you'll probably have to replace them every second or third time you replace the tyres and pads, which is about every 130.000-150.000 kilometres. If you're not paying attention to how many kilometres you've passed since the last replacement, you can pay attention to the following two symptoms that indicate that your pads are due for a replacement.


If you hear a squealing sound when you press the brake pedal, it means that your brake pads have worn thin. Modern brake pads come with a wear indicator that makes the squealing sound when the pads are worn down over 80%. If you don't replace them when you hear the squealing, the wear indicator can damage the rotor, and you'll need to replace the rotor alongside the pads.


If you feel the brake pedal pulse when you press it, your pads are probably worn down. However, the pulsing can also be a result of a problem with your car's ABS system or the rotor may be warped. If that's the case, you should take your car for inspection.


Types of Brake Pads

If you experience one of the aforementioned symptoms, or if you've used the same pads for over 50.000km, then you're probably due to a replacement. When looking for replacement pads, you'll come across 3 different types based on the material they're made of, including organic, semi-metallic and ceramic brake pads.

Organic Pads

The first pads were made from asbestos, a tough, yet toxic material that leads to respiratory diseases. When asbestos use was banned, most brake pads manufacturers made their pads using a composite of materials such as fibres, carbon, rubber and glass. Organic brake pads provide the least stopping power, but they aren't as noisy as other types of pads. They don't last very long, and they're generally found on lighter vehicles.

Semi-Metallic Pads

Most vehicles today use semi-metallic brake pads. These pads are made of iron, steel, copper and other metals, plus graphite lubricants and other materials that prevent the extreme build-up of heat. Semi-metallic brake pads are the norm on most heavier vehicles today, as they last longer and provide great stopping power, something that trucks and SUVs need.

Ceramic Pads

Ceramic brake pads are the most advanced type of pads available today. They were introduced a few decades ago as a direct replacement for asbestos pads. These pads are generally made from hardened ceramic plus copper fibres. Ceramic pads last the longest and provide the most stopping power. On the downside, they don't perform very well under high temperatures and in cold weather climates, due to ceramic cracking when under extreme weather conditions. Plus, they're the most expensive type of brake pads.

Features to Look for in Pads

There are a few important points to consider when buying replacement brake pads. The ideal replacement will depend on your driving style and the conditions you drive in. For instance, pads designed for Miata MX5 will have to withstand high temperatures.

If you're mostly driving on UK roads, then your pads should perform well on wet roads and cold conditions. For that reason, you should look for pads that provide great friction regardless of weather, have a high maximum operating temperature, and feature great friction response to temperature. The friction response to temperature is measured in profile, and it represents the amount of force you'll need to apply on the pedal to get the same response in emergency braking as opposed to regular braking.

Further, you have to consider the noise and vibration the pads produce, the rotor and pad lifespan, and the amount of dust the pads produce. Generally, organic pads produce the most dust, followed by ceramic and then semi-metallic pads. When you take all of these things into account, you're bound to get the right replacement brake pads, no matter what type of vehicle you own.


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