PFC Brake Pads: What Compound is Right For You?

1609838_10152219115715522_1975817347_nBrake pads are an easily dismissed performance part. We often become so blinded by “go-fast” parts we forget how important the brakes are to lap times, stopping distances, and other factors that effect your performance vehicle’s driving characteristics.

11170298_10153277993295522_7250920475243560254_oDepending on your application your braking needs will differ. An open wheel road-race car will encounter braking conditions different to those of a stock car, and a performance vehicle driven on the street will place priorities differently to retain drivability.  Brake pad compounds are a science all to their own, and when paired with an equally engineered rotor and caliper, will provide the most secure and responsive middle pedal for your preferred drive.

PFC Brakes offers pad compounds specifically engineered for high-performance applications, and takes into consideration the individual needs of different racers. Let’s have a look at some of the options and help you make the best decision for your application.

Brake Pad Characteristics

PFC boils down their compound descriptions into distinct performance characteristics, and recommend uses. The first consideration is “Initial Bite,” which is the immediacy of brake grab and pedal feel as pressure is applied to the brakes. A high initial bite would entail a very responsive brake pad, where a touchy feel means that aggressive stopping power may only be a feather weight touch-of-the-pedal away.

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High performance pads should be paired with high quality rotors and calipers.

The second consideration PFC uses to categorize their pads is “torque rise.” We have all heard the term “getting temperature in the brakes” when referring to uncompromising race car applications. The reference drivers are making is the change in torque rise as a relation to temperature. More aggressive compound pads require elevated temperatures to work at their fullest potential. As the brakes are used and friction is generated their physical properties of the compound change and the torque they exert on the rotors increases.

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High performance track cars like Porsches and BMWs can benefit from 07/08 compound pads.

The third point is “modulation,” or the pedal feel and corresponding brake response under sustained braking. Modulation refers to braking behavior under race conditions, where pedal inputs may be sudden, harsh, and brief. The pads’ abilities to behave in a forgiving manor to this seemingly-blunt driving input is known as favorable modulation.

The last main consideration when it comes to brake feel is release. Think about throwing a baseball, the way you cradle the sphere in the palm of your hand, wrap your fingers around the seams, wind-up and throw are nothing if you don’t release the ball from your grasp with the same finesse. If the braking control is limited to application and not removal, the cars’ driving manors will not be conducive to smooth driving. And we all know smooth is fast.

PFC Brakes Compounds

01 and 11 Compounds are PFC’s most all-purpose pads. Recommended for everything from road-racing, to NASCAR, and IndyCar, these intermediate compounds are suitable for applications where a general compromise between characteristics is desired. No one tendency outweighs another to the point of limiting this pads’ utility.

carbon-carbonThe 07 and 08 Compounds are a step up in the performance realm where utility starts to take a backseat to bite, and torque rise. These pads have a more aggressive initial grab or bite as you touch the brake pedal, and while exhibit slightly improved torque rise as temperature builds in the pad. A compound like this should be used in situations where more severe, and heavy duty applications demand performance braking needs. PFC suggests high down-force, tight road-course, handling prioritized cars like SCCA, oval track, track day, and exotic car applications.

Ganassi_PackageCompounds 12, 13, and 14 are the specialized pads of the bunch. These pad compounds are purpose-engineered to delivery a specific characteristic over others to meet the demands of a given application. Compound 12 is the longest-wearing pad, making it the best for endurance racing like 24 hour events. 13 delivers the most aggressive bite for the ultimate in braking of fast and heavy vehicles that still need the braking responsiveness of a lighter car.

Lastly compound 14 is optimized for driving on loose surfaces where high initial bite could induce a lock-up and loss of control. This compound features a smooth bite, and minimal change in torque across the temperature range.

These compounds can be further examined for specific characteristics, but the main groupings range from mild and multi-purpose, to more race-bred, and finally all out no compromise. If you need further assistance selecting the appropriate pad for your car call up PFC Brakes and ask about their compounds!

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About the author

Trevor Anderson

Trevor Anderson comes from an eclectic background of technical and creative disciplines. His first racing love can be found in the deserts of Baja California. In 2012 he won the SCORE Baja 1000 driving solo from Ensenada to La Paz in an aircooled VW. Trevor is engaged with hands-on skill sets such as fabrication and engine building, but also the theoretical discussion of design and technology. Trevor has a private pilot's license and is pursuing an MFA in fine art - specifically researching the aesthetics of machines, high performance materials and their social importance to enthusiast culture.
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