TECH TALK | Hitting the Brakes
If you ask any race car driver how to stay ahead of their competition, they will almost always point you to the brakes. Hitting the brake harder, faster, and later than the competition is the sure proof way to get out in front. That’s why the braking zones are prime territory for driving and car improvement. Go to any dealership and look at their high-end sports cars and most will offer the option of a Carbon Ceramic Brake (CCB) upgrade.
So, what are Carbon Ceramic Brakes, and what makes them superior? Carbon Ceramic Brakes, as the name implies, are made of Carbon Fibre and Ceramics, making them incredibly light and stable in high heat conditions. The lower weight means the car doesn’t have to exert as much force to start or stop spinning the disc giving increased response. More notably, another significant improvement on track is with the heat management. A traditional steel disc when heated to the temperatures a car will get to on track will start to melt. This melting causes outgassing, where the melting materials release gases that sit between your brake pads and rotors causing reduced stopping power. Carbon Ceramics don’t have this issue as the materials used melt at much higher temperatures.
Carbon Ceramic Brakes are also quite a bit harder meaning that the brake pads don’t take away as much rotor material as they would on a steel disc and in turn, they last quite a bit longer and produce less dust. You may read this and think, “if they’re so great, why bother with steel discs?” Well, they do have downsides when compared to steel discs. While Carbon Ceramic Brakes are great at reducing outgassing brake fade, most brake fade comes from boiling the brake fluid, an issue that doesn’t care about how resistant to melting your rotors are. CCB’s also notoriously don’t feel as solid when they are cold and tend to squeal on lower speed brake application…also known as daily driving. Perhaps the biggest reason why not every car runs Carbon Ceramics is cost. Carbon Ceramics are significantly more expensive to manufacture than traditional steel brakes. That being said, don’t expect to see big Carbon discs on your next economy car!