What to consider when buying aftermarket heavy-duty brake friction

Consider heavy-duty aftermarket brake options carefully

When Montu Khokhar, chief executive officer of NRS Brakes, visited the Fleet Equipment office last year, he rattled off brake friction material that his company had found in analyzing discarded pads from shops across the country. A number of materials raised editorial eyebrows, but none so much as: kitty litter. Yeah; kitty litter, in aftermarket brake pads. Not only does that potentially increase stopping distances, putting your trucks, drivers and others on the road in danger, it also doesn’t bode well for getting efficient lifecycle usage out of your brake pad.

Materials like this were a big motivator in NRS bringing its recently-launched brake pad to the market last year, sporting features like mechanical attachment and galvanization that are often employed by OEM-spec pads.

“The friction on your brake pads is only useful if it stays attached to the brake system,” said Troy Hylton, vice president of engineering for NRS Brakes. “Most fleet brake jobs are done prematurely because the brake pads themselves start to deteriorate due to rust and corrosion before the friction has a chance to wear out.”

As brake pad formulations evolve, you’ll want to ensure you have the confidence in the pad you’re purchasing.

“Despite the work being put into this effort across the industry, I am concerned that the same effort will not be performed by some non-OEM and aftermarket replacement air disc pad manufacturers,” said Greg Dvorchak, engineering supervisor for application engineering with Hendrickson. “The performance, drum or rotor durability and life of these parts is a complete unknown. These could definitely impact overall maintenance costs.”

“Disc brake frictions have the potential to bring more suppliers into the market because they take less investment to make compared to drum brake linings,” noted Joe Kay, director of engineering for brakes with Meritor. “Different formulas behave differently; you may or may not know how it will respond on a commercial vehicle.”

For more on this topic, click here to read Brake pad development heading into the copper-reduced era.

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