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Carbon Ceramic Brakes (Benefits, Drawbacks, Cost)

June 21, 2021

What do a spaceship and a Ferrari 488 have in common?

In this article, we’ll answer that question while talking about carbon ceramic brakes, their four benefits, and their two downsides. We’ll then help you decide whether a carbon ceramic disc brake set is the right choice for you. 

Lastly, we’ll guide you on what to do when your carbon ceramic brakes aren’t working properly.

This Article Contains:

Let’s get rolling.

What Are Carbon Ceramic Brakes?

Carbon ceramic brakes (a.k.a. ceramic composite brake discs or CC brakes) are one of the most common types of disc brakes found in high-performance cars like Ferraris.

How are they different from the standard disc brakes?

Generally, in disc brakes, the brake disc or rotor is made from cast iron or steel. 

On the flip side, in carbon ceramic brakes, the brake disc or rotor is made from a combination of specially treated carbon and ceramics — more specifically, carbon fiber, epoxy resin, silicon carbide, and more.

The idea for combining the properties of carbon fiber and ceramic material like silicon carbide for high-performance applications came from space shuttles.

Curious as to why?

A space shuttle is made of a carbon fibre reinforced carbon composite (known as carbon carbon) which is then coated with ceramic material like silicon carbide.

These reinforced tiles allow the space shuttle to endure the high temperature conditions caused by atmospheric friction.

But what do silicon carbide and carbon carbon tiles have to do with car brakes?

To understand that, you first need to know how disc brakes work.

How does a disc brake work?

When you engage the brakes by pressing down on the brake pedal:

The critical point to remember here is the heat generated by friction.

Why?

When you’re continuously braking, a conventional metallic brake system may be unable to dissipate all of the friction generated heat. And this heat can build up to increase the temperature of the steel or cast iron discs in your braking system.

When your brake system temperature becomes excessive, it can degrade your cast iron or steel rotor, brake caliper, brake fluid reservoir, and so on. And degraded components in the braking system can lower your stopping power and compromise road safety.

Fortunately, carbon ceramic brakes were designed to manage the friction heat generated in your braking system effectively.

Spaceships and sports cars aside, why should CC brakes matter to you?

4 Benefits Of Carbon Ceramic Brakes

Here are four advantages of carbon ceramic brakes over conventional brakes:

A. Brake Fade Resistance

Brake fade is the loss of braking power under high braking temperatures.

Unlike conventional brakes (such as cast iron brakes or steel brakes), carbon ceramic brakes are less susceptible to brake fade since they don’t usually distort under high temperature conditions.

Additionally, a carbon ceramic disc is excellent at dissipating friction heat, so it’s less likely to reach an excessively high temperature. This allows the carbon ceramic brakes to consistently provide steady braking performance whether you’re:

B. Durability

Ceramic composite brake discs are tough and highly resistant to wear, making them very durable compared to your average iron rotors.

While conventional cast iron discs or iron rotors may last up to 60,000 miles, carbon ceramic rotors can go without replacement over 100,000 miles or even outlive your vehicle.

However, there’s no hard-and-fast rule to determine how long a carbon ceramic disc will last. For example, the lifetime of your carbon ceramic brake disc can go down if you’re prone to aggressive driving habits.

C. Cleaner Brakes

A conventional cast iron brake rotor or steel rotor undergoes a lot of wear and generates lots of brake dust, which then clings to and accumulates on your vehicle’s wheels.

On the flip side, carbon ceramic brakes are highly resistant to abrasion. And even if your carbon ceramic brake rotor does start to wear, the brake dust generated is so fine that it’ll just get blown away as your vehicle drives on.

D. Lightness

Carbon ceramic brakes are very lightweight.  

Chances are that your carbon ceramic brake disc will weigh half as much as your standard cast iron or steel rotor for a given diameter.

This reduces your vehicle’s unsprung weight and significantly improves handling, leading to a smoother driving experience.

In addition to the above four benefits, carbon ceramic brakes are also popular for their:

Next, let’s look at the most significant disadvantages of using carbon ceramic brakes in your vehicle:

2 Downsides Of Carbon Ceramic Brakes

While carbon ceramic brakes may be a cut above your conventional brakes, they have two major disadvantages:

A. They’re Expensive

Carbon ceramic rotors or discs are costly.

While steel brakes or cast iron brakes may cost you around $500, carbon ceramic brakes can set you back by at least $3000 to $15,0000.

For example, getting the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) for a 911 Turbo can cost you over $21,000.

The reason for this high cost is that a carbon ceramic brake disc is challenging to manufacture.  It takes far more effort and time to build high-quality ceramic composite brake discs than it does for steel brakes or cast iron discs.

Additionally, for optimal compatibility, you’ll also need to skip the more affordable metallic brake pads, semi metallic pads, organic brake pads, and more to get a carbon ceramic brake pad set for your braking system.

B. Spongy Feel

Many car owners who use carbon ceramic brakes complain that their brakes often feel spongy.

This usually happens when your carbon ceramic disc or rotor is cold, like in the winter or when you’re driving a car that has been resting for some hours. But as your vehicle gets moving, and once your brake disc gets heated up from braking, this feeling of sponginess should go away.

However, for people using carbon ceramic brakes for the first time, this sensation of sponginess can be quite hard to manage.

Now that you’ve gone over the benefits and setbacks of using carbon ceramic rotors, let’s see if CC brakes are the right option for you:

Should You Get Carbon Ceramic Brakes For Your Vehicle?

Simply put, ceramic composite brake discs aren’t a necessity for your car!

For an average owner, the conventional metallic brake discs would work just fine.

However, you can consider getting carbon ceramic brakes for your vehicle if:

In most other cases, deciding not to get a carbon ceramic brake disc is probably a good idea.

Regardless of the type of brake disc you choose to purchase, keeping it in top condition is crucial to your road safety. Because if your brake disc or any other brake component is defective, you’d be unable to slow down your vehicle effectively.

This brings us to this question…

What Should You Do If Your Brake Disc Isn’t Working As Expected?

When you notice something wrong with your brakes, it’s best to have your brake system inspected by a professional mechanic.

For this, you can either take your car to an auto repair shop/dealership or request the services of a mobile mechanic — a mechanic who comes to your driveway to repair or service your vehicle.

We recommend availing a mobile mechanic’s services since driving to a repair shop with faulty brakes can be risky.

As you look for mechanics, always ensure that they:

But where can you find such mechanics?

Just reach out to RepairSmith, an accessible and convenient mobile auto repair service.

With RepairSmith:

Closing Thoughts

Although carbon ceramic brakes’ extreme durability and resilience may seem appealing, they may not be worth the cost for most drivers. You’d likely be better off with a traditional metallic brake disc system.

Anyhow, if your carbon ceramic brakes, steel brakes, or iron brakes are acting up, reach out to a mechanic immediately.
And if you’re looking for hassle-free vehicle repair and maintenance, just get in touch with RepairSmith. Our certified technicians will come to your driveway, ready to repair and service your vehicle!