Extremely: advantages and disadvantages of carbon ceramic brakes


Many car manufacturers equip their fastest cars with so-called carbon-ceramic brakes. But the high-performance brakes don't have much in common with the housing of a watch or even the material of conventional kitchenware. Rather, ceramic brakes or carbon-ceramic brakes have enormously resistant properties to bring sports cars with a high horsepower to a standstill. Our article clarifies whether the expensive accessories are worthwhile and where the advantages or disadvantages of such ceramic brake systems lie.

Carbon fiber reinforced silicon carbide comes from space

Audi Carbon Ceramic Brake System 1 Extreme: Pros and Cons of Carbon Ceramic Brakes
Audi carbon ceramic brake system. (Photo: Audi Media Center)

Ceramic brake systems do not come with conventional ceramic, but with a silicon carbide (ceramic) reinforced by carbon fibers (carbon). In this respect, most carbon-ceramic brake discs are a special composite material, the properties and durability of which have already been extensively tested by developments in space and aviation. Important empirical values ​​on the subject of carbon-ceramic brakes were also gathered in the formula racing series - here, the extraordinary carbon and carbon-ceramic brakes were used even before they entered series-production automobiles.

Advantages of carbon ceramic brakes

Compared to conventional brake discs made of steel or cast iron, carbon-ceramic brakes have extremely high and constant coefficients of friction, regardless of how high the surface moisture or temperature is. Conversely, this means that carbon-ceramic brakes are so-called Fading effect counteract. Fading is the undesired reduction in the braking effect - in particular due to longer braking and often consecutive braking maneuvers, brakes can become "hot" and the braking effect can be reduced dramatically as a result of overheating. In order to counteract this so-called fading, the materials of carbon-ceramic brakes have important properties. The carbon fiber reinforced silicon carbide (C / SiC) is, thanks to its higher toughness, lower density, extremely high thermal shock resistance and breaking strength, as well as extremely good conductivity, ideal against the high levels Temperatures during braking forearmed. With temperatures of more than 1.600 degrees Celsius, a carbon-ceramic brake disc is around twice as resistant as a conventional steel brake disc. In addition, these brakes are not only more resistant to heat: Because the special material of carbon-ceramic brakes is friction-free and resistant to oxidation (resistant to rust or road salt), automobile manufacturers can specify a durability and lifespan of up to 300.000 to 350.000 kilometers. However, carbon-ceramic brakes only achieve this service life with regard to normal everyday use. If the vehicle is used in racetrack operation, the lifespan of carbon-ceramic brake discs is around 50.000 kilometers. In this respect, carbon-ceramic brakes are not only suitable for fast vehicles: Even larger and heavier vehicles - such as SUVs or armored government vehicles - are often equipped with carbon-ceramic brake discs. Due to the extremely high costs, carbon-ceramic brakes could not yet prevail among the tuning parts. To do this, they can better cope with the high mechanical and thermal loads when operating the race track and offer the best braking performance to the occupants of particularly heavy vehicles. Another advantage of carbon-ceramic brakes is that they weigh significantly less - depending on the vehicle model and size, this material can sometimes save around 50 percent in weight per brake disc. At the same time, the unsprung masses are reduced, which in turn leads to better steering behavior and optimized braking behavior. Finally, the response is worth mentioning, which is significantly better, especially when it is wet.

Disadvantages of carbon ceramic brakes

Audi Carbon Ceramic Brake System 2 Extreme: Pros and Cons of Carbon Ceramic Brakes
As a special feature of the Audi R8 Spyder V10, the Ingolstadt-based company offers particularly stable and light brake discs made of carbon-fiber-reinforced ceramic for special demands. (Photo: Audi media center)

Of course, there are also some disadvantages of carbon ceramic brakes. The high production costs and the associated extremely high acquisition and maintenance costs are particularly worth mentioning here. Depending on the car manufacturer and vehicle model, optional carbon ceramic brakes can cost an additional 10.000 euros. Apart from the price, there is another disadvantage: The entire area around the brakes - such as brake lines, rims, shock absorbers or shock absorber mounts and other peripherals - are designed for the sometimes high temperatures. This is one of the reasons why carbon-ceramic brakes cannot be easily retrofitted.

Ceramic brake pads: Are these carbon-ceramic brakes for retrofitting?

As part of the tuning and brake replacement, there is always talk of so-called ceramic brake pads. So-called ceramic brake pads for BMW models and ceramic brake pads for Audi models are particularly popular in the BMW and Audi scene. There are numerous suppliers on the accessories market who are expected to come up with ceramic brake pads and extremely good braking performance. The fact is, however, that the ceramic brake pads available on the accessories market have little in common with the carbon ceramic brakes known from super sports cars or motorsport. Rather, it is just a normal brake pad that was designed for normal road traffic. The special pad mixture of such brake pads only has ceramic friction agents, but not the carbon fiber-reinforced silicon carbide of the known carbon-ceramic brakes. When replacing and servicing conventional brakes, the special brake pads can still be worthwhile: The advantages of the ceramic brake pad mixture are reduced noise, less wear and less brake dust - that Cleaning the rims is less common. We cannot speak of high performance here - ceramic brake pads mainly ensure less brake dust, which in turn has a positive effect on the environment and the appearance of the rims.

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  1. This is horribly worded! I cant stand anymore. The editors should be fired!

  2. Hi Andrew,

    what you mean? it is an automatic Translator for English.

    Greetings Tom

    • si era capito ma cosi non è molto utile ... bisognerebbe riscriverlo, il concetto si capisce ma è molto complicato e fastidioso per la lettura

      • Well, I can't judge how it reads in English or Italian. So we're talking Tacheles (read: from the German text):
        + very well structured and sensible in structure
        + clearly understandable in terms of content, very well explained in terms of matter
        + no ramblings, but a text with substance, linguistically formulated

        It is very interesting for ME as a layperson to read because the author answers many questions that have arisen in connection with vehicles with ceramic brakes. Others are welcome to see it differently ...

        Thank you, dear author! Gladly more in the same way. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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