View Full Version : Brake Pad Ratings

Abarth Fun
09-12-2014, 06:36 PM
Here is an excerpt from a technical article from the EBC brakes website.

I wasn't aware of this but I will certainly keep this in mind the next time I buy brake pads...


One way to be sure you have identified the best brake pads for your car is to look at the FMSI friction level coding which is the common rating method for brake pads in the USA and now used all over the world. This grading system uses letters indicating nominal friction level of the brake compound ranging from E to H. The best brake pads are the ones with the higher letter grade.

In the Motorcycle industry it is common for all brakes to have either a G or H friction coding but in automotive fields the best brake pads usually have the G grade letter and do not go higher. This does not mean that brake pads with an E or F grade letter and not good brake pads but the grade letters are there for a very particular reason as a guide to consumers which are the best brake pads to buy. If you have a car fitted with E or F grade letter brake pads and you switch the a pad using a G rated brake compound you will without doubt feel a slightly stronger brake especially at first application on the brake.

The grade letters can be found on the back of the brake pads and there are usually two brake letters, for example GF or FF or EE. The first letter indicates the nominal friction level when the brakes are cold and the second letter the brake effect that can be expected when the brakes are warm.

Many brake pad suppliers are not even aware of these grades so you can actually outwit suppliers by asking to see the brake pads they wish to sell you. If they do not have a friction grade letter the first thing to do is NOT to buy them as these are surely untested and un graded brakes coming from a very dubious supplier. Any brake pad factory not grading their pads is to be considered doubtful.

So to choose the best brake pads, ask your supplier to tell you which friction code the pads carry that he offers you and compare it to the ones you had in your vehicle. In the USA many brake suppliers are still selling brake pads for European vehicles using cheap imported brake compounds rated E or F when 90% of all European cars (click here to see an example of a grade letter marked pad) are built with a GG or GF grade compound. This simply lowers the brake feel on your car and is not a wise move so in particular with brakes for European cars stick to the grade letters to be sure you have the best brake pads for you vehicle.

In Europe there is a new brake safety regulation known as ECE R 90 and brake pads that are not tested and conform to these rules and test criteria are now illegal to sell. It is even more advisable to check the correct brake pads are being used on European vehicles as these all invariably use brake compounds at the higher end of the friction scale and switching to a lower grade will downgrade the brake effect significantly.