Drum vs. Disc
Disc brakes and drum brakes are the two most commonly used braking systems in modern vehicles. A disc brake has two disc pads on either side of a brake rotor. When the brakes are applied, a caliper action forces these discs to squeeze against the rotor, which in turn slows down the wheel, eventually stopping it. These are usually found in the front wheels of modern vehicles.
The drum brakes, however, have a set of brake shoes that are set up on the inside of a brake rotor. When brakes are applied, these are expanded and push against the wall of the rotor to bring the vehicle to a complete halt. Drums are part of an older technology and are traditionally used in the rear wheels vehicles. In both cases, the braking mechanisms use friction to stop the vehicle. Thus, brake shoe replacement should be done on a regular basis as the wear down, or at regular intervals as recommended by the manufacturer. This is to ensure that your vehicle has optimal braking power at all times.
Disc brakes are considered to be safer and more efficient than their drum counterparts because discs can dissipate heat much more efficiently when compared to drum brakes. Discs are also generally more consistent in their operation. These properties make discs one of the most desired braking systems for vehicle manufacturers. However, disc brakes are costlier than drum brakes, owing to their complexity in the manufacture. Thus vehicle manufacturers still rely on drum brakes to do 50% of the braking in most vehicles.
Types of brake shoes
Car brake shoes are of four types, and the classification is based purely on their compositional materials. They are-
Semi-Metallic Brake Shoes: Like the name suggests, these types of made of a combination of metallic and organic materials in the ratio of 30:70. These are highly durable and are among the most commonly used brake shoes. However, they do wear out the rotors faster than their counterparts under extreme braking conditions since the material does not dissipate heat efficiently.
Non-Asbestos Organic brake pads: Commonly known as NAO, these are made of natural materials like glass, rubber, fiber or even Kevlar. They are quite soft and do not make as much noise as the metallic brake shoes. However, they do wear out quickly even under nominal conditions and tend to create a lot of brake dust.
Low Metallic NAO: These are Organic that is infused with trace amounts of metal such as copper or steel to improve braking efficiency and heat dissipation. However, the addition of metal also increases the generation of brake dust and noise when braking.
Ceramic Brake Shoes: Ceramic are high-end products that are made of ceramic fibers infused in filler materials. These are extremely quiet and produce virtually no dust when compared to the metallic and NAO-type. They do not wear out the rotors as fast as others do. However, they are quite expensive and are used primarily on higher-end vehicles.
Choosing the type of vehicle you drive and what you can afford. Smaller or slower road cars can use semi-metallic shoes with no adverse consequences. However, if you need to replace brake shoes of bigger vehicles such as trucks and SUVs, or faster cars, you might have to invest in more expensive low metallic or ceramic.
How to choose the right brake shoes
One of the first things to consider when choosing brake shoes is your driving requirements and the type of vehicle you drive. This includes the most common types of terrain you will be driving on, the ambient temperature of where you live, how much traffic you encounter on a regular basis and the quality of the roads.
Next, you will have to think about the type of brake you will buy. For regular city traffic, a semi-metallic should do just fine. However, if you find the need for better/ stronger braking capabilities, you will have to invest in ceramic type. If you are unsure of the kind of brake shoes your vehicle needs, you can look into the manufacturer's specification to find an appropriate set.
Once you have decided on the type of brake shoes replacement you need. You will then have to choose from the numerous brands that are available in the markets. This can be a harrowing process, considering the number of options you have at your disposal. This is why it is necessary to do optimal research before buying brake shoes. In most cases, it is recommended that your replace the existing with the same make and model that the car manufacturer had installed. If you know a trusted mechanic, you can take his help in determining the right brake shoes for your vehicle. With a professional by your side, you will be able to find and install the right kind of brake shoes to suit your driving style and vehicle.