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  #1  
Old 05-11-2003, 12:24 PM
EricSilver's Avatar
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The Brake Pad Debate -- the Ignored Angle

Prior to replacing my brake pads this weekend, I read all the threads discussing/debating OEM organic versus aftermarket metallic pads. The key issues seemed to revolve around dust, rotor wear and stopping ability.

My decision to go with Axxis Metal Masters was based on a more fundamental question:

How much is your time worth?

The soft Pagids I just replaced were very effective at stopping the car, and easy on the rotors, but the dust they produced was absolutely horrendous, and destroyed the finish on my front wheels.

I recall, with zero fondness, spending at least an hour per week (during the warm months) scrubbing brake dust from my 15-hole rims, and the dismay at nonetheless losing the battle with the stuff that baked on, and could not be removed. I am not looking forward to doing that again this year, especially after I refinish my front wheels.

When I look at the countless hours involved in "brake dust management" versus the value of using those those same hours for doing business or other income-generating work, or pursuing creative endeavors, or spending time with loved ones, it makes perfect sense to buy low dust, maintenance-free semi metallic pads, even if it means spending $100 on a set of new rotors with each pad change. The time spent fighting dust simply is not worth it especially since the Metal Masters (and I suppose similar pads) offer such phenomenal stopping power, which I observed this weekend.

Before replacing your next set of pads, think of all the enjoyable and/or profitable things you could be doing with your time, then think of how it would feel to have to defer many of those because you need to spend hours with a brush cleaning dust from your wheels, and decide what makes the most sense.

===========

That being said, I should add that brake pad replacement is the easiest and fastest DIY job. However, the instructions in Shop Forum's DIY section to not apply to my car. I have the Girling 2-bolt calipers that flip up to expose the pads, so the process is a lot easier:

Remove brake fluid reservoir cap, stuff a rag at in the top, remove wheel, remove lower caliper bolt, loosen the top bolt, flip up the caliper, remove the used pads, insert the new pads, push back the piston within the caliper (use a large C-Clamp or similar), flip the caliper back down, replace the lower bolt, tighten the top bolt, replace the brake fluid reservoir cap, pump brake pedal until firm. That's it. Takes all of 10 minutes per wheel.

The only problem I had was with stuck lug bolts on one wheel -- all 5 of them would not budge with the stock lug wrench, even after drenching it with WD40 and Liquid Wrench. Once again, Home Depot plumbing dept. to the rescue I bought a
30 inch length of 3/4 inch diameter iron/steel pipe, placed it over the end of the wrench handle for added leverage, and the stuck bolts gave up with very little resistance.
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2001 E430 4matic
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Gone but not Forgotten:
1995 E320, 252,xxx miles, Black/Grey
1989 260E, 223,00 miles, Black/Black
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  #2  
Old 05-11-2003, 03:09 PM
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Although I like the time-management angle, I would personally encourage other readers to stick with approved brake pads. Others on this list have reported creeping problems with brake fade and squealing with low-dust pads.

To me, having absolute confidence in my brakes being able to handle a panic stop without any problems is worth the extra effort of cleaning my wheels.

FWIW, the wheels on my car were neglected by the PO. I did take 2 or 3 hours getting them into shape. Now, it is literally a 10-minute (or less) proposition to KEEP them clean each week.

I recommend P21S gel wheel cleaner. Works wonders!
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  #3  
Old 05-11-2003, 03:28 PM
Ali Al-Chalabi's Avatar
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I personally still prefer the OEM pads for my car.

Also, the OEM pads are NOT organic, they are semi-metallic. They contain a higher amount of synthetic graphite which makes the brake dust blacker in color and more visible on your wheels. I have never used metal masters, so I cannot comment on how their performance measures up against the OEM pads.
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  #4  
Old 05-11-2003, 03:49 PM
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Hi 400E,

The time management is also financial. In addition to myself, I am sure there are professionals in this forum who bill clients on an hourly basis and often work seven days per week. If you are billing $100+/hour, and have a choice of spending 2 hours cleaning dust from your wheels or using the same time to make money (particularly in this economy) the choice becomes obvious. The cost of new rotors, in the above case, equals one hour' work -- a very fair trade. (Imagine how great the fry chef at McDonalds would feel if he could get a set of rotors for an hous' work.)

I agree with you fundamentally on using OEM parts, but no matter what cleaning solution I used, the brake dust always won. And, in the aggregate, the cumulative cost of such materials costs about the same as a new set of rotors.

The squeal is more a factor of the pads' movement or vibration within the caliper, which will occur with any pad material. My Pagids went through their squeal phase in the beginning.

I would wager the creeping fade is more an issue of inadequate brake pedal pressure (to compensate for the harder pad material) than an inherent problem with the pads.

Curiously, these pads have the most bite when applying either feather-light pedal pressure, or pressing somewhat harder at normal street speeds. My ABS is activated under these conditions if the pavement is even marginally wet or sandy, which shows that the pads are doing their job in stopping the wheel.

However, in normal street driving, it feels I have hit a wall, so to speak, at pedal pressures that would drastically slow the car when I had my Pagid pads in. What I have to do is discipline myself to apply the extra bit of pedal pressure to compensate -- just as, when I first got my car, I had to discipline myself to apply more pressure to the stiff Mercedes accelerator pedal, in contrast to the "blow on me and I'll go" pedals in the Japanese and American cars I had driven previously. Now, because I am used to it, the pedal feels feather light. The same will happen with the brakes.

This is less work than dust mainenance and, on the plus side, forces me to be a more alert driver in situtations where alertness is important, i.e. stop and go, bumper-to-bumper traffic.
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2001 E430 4matic
122,xxx miles
Black/Charcoal Interior

------------------------------------
Gone but not Forgotten:
1995 E320, 252,xxx miles, Black/Grey
1989 260E, 223,00 miles, Black/Black

Last edited by EricSilver; 05-11-2003 at 04:45 PM.
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  #5  
Old 05-11-2003, 04:19 PM
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Hi Ali,

I noticed that when I removed the Pagids. By appearance and feel, they seemed no different than the Metal Masters. I suppose the actual metal content is higer, and/or the type of metal differs(?)

The key difference I have observed with the Metal Masters is the more solid feel through the pedal when braking, which creates the illusion that the pedal cannot be depressed any further. Apply a bit more pressure and they really bite. I believe that lack of adequate compensating pressure accounts for many anecdotal reports of fade. It would be interesting to see laboratory data on brake pad performance, which takes compensating factors for pad hardness/composition into account.

I don't expect overall performance to be any better than the OEM's. So far I have not noticed any difference at all, except when wet. I washed my car earlier, really soaping and soaking the wheels as I always do (except this time it will not be in vain. ) This has always dimished brake performance with the Pagids until the rotors dried, but the Metal Masters apparently ignored the soap and water and the brakes performed very well.

Then again, I have only had them on for a day, so it will be a while before I can speak with any degree of authority on this.
__________________
2001 E430 4matic
122,xxx miles
Black/Charcoal Interior

------------------------------------
Gone but not Forgotten:
1995 E320, 252,xxx miles, Black/Grey
1989 260E, 223,00 miles, Black/Black

Last edited by EricSilver; 05-11-2003 at 04:43 PM.
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  #6  
Old 05-11-2003, 07:28 PM
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although i haven't tried myself....

have you thought about using those dust shields?as i say i haven't tried yet but i would think they could help you.once you have them clean try putting a coat of wax/polish on the rims.it may make cleanup easier.i use pagids and do them myself(more for the enjoyment than saving money) and the dust bothers me but i look at as the price to pay for having great brakes
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  #7  
Old 05-11-2003, 08:03 PM
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Hey Daddio,

I considered dust shields at one time, but figured the dust would just accumulate in places behind it, i.e. the caliper. Plus, the 15 holes in my rims serve somewhat to cool the brakes and I would not want to block them.

The pads I have now -- Axxis Metal Masters -- are actually very good. I have been driving a lot this morning and afternoon, on highway, city and country roads, and they performed magnificently. What was great was getting out of the car after 100 miles or so to find my wheels as clean and shiny as they were after I washed them! Not a trace of dust. :sigh:

Having dirty wheels is the same as wearing a fine suit with a big gravy stain on the lapel. It simply does not look good, and makes the wearer look even worse -- particularly when there are easy solutions, i.e. eating more conscientiously in the case of the gravy stain, or driving more conscientiously in the case of the low-dust brakes.

Thing is, I am not having to adjust my driving style as I originally thought I would. Actually, I tell a lie; I am adjusting my style. Instead of braking harder into traffic lights, as I originally thought I would need to do, I am instead softening my touch. As I break the pads in, it seems I am slowing more quickly and stopping sooner than before. This was an unexpected, but very welcome surprise, and I am really becoming sold on these Axxis pads, despite my initial fears and concerns.

When I went on my first test drives after putting these pads on, I thought I had made a bad choice in buying them. After letting the pads settle in a while, during which time I imagine they had a chance to score the surface of the rotor, my opinion has changed and now I love them. Think of how you have to break in a new electric shaver, i.e. if you switch from a rotary to a linear type. For the first couple of days the new shaver does not work as well as the old one. But once your face gets used to it, it works very well. I would bet good money that a lot of people who dump their aftermarket pads do so before they have a chance to break in.
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2001 E430 4matic
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Black/Charcoal Interior

------------------------------------
Gone but not Forgotten:
1995 E320, 252,xxx miles, Black/Grey
1989 260E, 223,00 miles, Black/Black
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  #8  
Old 05-11-2003, 08:57 PM
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Eric,

I think it is likely that there is a higher metal content in the metal masters than the OEM pads. I have read other member's comments on the metal masters and there seem to be those that are satisifed with the metal master pads and their performance. Is there any noise with the metal masters, or are they as quiet as the OEM pads? I have also read plenty of praise for porterfield pads, I may decide tp give them a try next time it is time for a brake job, but we'll see.
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  #9  
Old 05-11-2003, 09:25 PM
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Eric,
You are taking a very thoughtful approach to this issue! I may have to change my mind after all.

Please do keep us posted from time to time about how many miles you get out of your front pads and their performance over the long haul.

Steve
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  #10  
Old 05-11-2003, 11:42 PM
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i run dust shields on all my benzes. 6.9, 560sel, 560sec.

would run them on my e320cab but they interfere.

will be running them on my s500c.

keep the wheels clean and i have noticed no dimishment of braking capabilities.

and i drive these cars hard.
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  #11  
Old 05-12-2003, 12:47 AM
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FWIW, I use a 'California Duster' on my wheels every couple of days - the small sized one that is sold for cleaning the dashboard. It takes about 30-60 seconds per wheel, removes the black crud before it bakes on, and eliminates the problem for me with the stock pads (it also shines up the wheel nicely: The pointed end of the 'duster' is especially useful for the wheel holes and around the wheel rim). The duster lasts about 5-6 months before it is pitch black, and it can be washed once or twice before needing replacement.

After I wash and dry the car on the weekend, I spray and wipe the wheels with Mequiar's Final Detail, which shines up the wheels and seems to make them a bit more slippery. The dust doesn't seem to stick to the wheels as much after the spray. This takes another 1-2 minutes per wheel. And I wax the wheels when I wax the car, about once every 5-6 months. All told about 10-15 minutes per week is devoted to wheel care with this system, on a car that avgs about 250 miles per week of stop-and-go commuting.
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  #12  
Old 05-12-2003, 05:25 AM
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Soon after purchasing my '73 350SLC twenty years ago, I replaced the brake pads. At the time my brother was able to get me some metal pads (Hardies) at a good price (in fact he got me 2 sets!). The rotors were fairly worn so I figured it would not matter if the pads damaged the rotors and I had to replace them, it was an opportunity to try the pads. I was impressed. The pads did not have quite the "bite" of the OEM pads but they were still more than sufficient to brake to the point of locking wheels even on good surfaces. Hot they resisted fade and remained strong. An added advantage was that they were fairly clean and the small amount of dust produced was a grey colour that did not show on the silver wheels. The fronts eventually wore out after 112,000km at which point the rears were still only half worn (yes, 112,000km)! What's more, the front rotors had only just worn to their minimum thickness at this this stage. I fitted new front rotors and the second set of front pads and they continue giving good performance to this day.

When we purchased our '90 300TE I wanted something to replace the filthy OEM pads. A friend in the brake business advised against metal pads (which I wanted following my good experience with my SLC) as he claimed my wife would not like the lack of bite of the metal pads. Unfortunately, the Hardies brand metal pads fitted to my SLC were no longer available. He supplied me with Bendix "Standards". They are very clean producing virtually no dust, however they have a low maximum temperature rating and with only a small amount of vigorous use will fade badly. I also feel they produce no more bite than the metals in the SLC, certainly less than OEM pads.

When I recently purchased my '90 190E, again I was looking for a solution to the filthy wheels (that I removed and spent many hours cleaning inside and out). The previous owner had fitted dust shields to the front wheels which at least keep the outside clean but the inside still gets filthy. The Bendix "Standards" are no longer available due to asbestos no longer being used. I have tried some Bendix "Euro Pack" but they seem as dirty as the OEM pads. I enquired with Bendix if they could recommend something cleaner that would still offer good performance. They claimed that none of the current range are as clean as the old "Standards" but their "Advance" are the next best and offer better resistance to fade than the old "Standards". They sell others including metal pads but claim that these are not as clean as the "Advance". I have yet to try these.

Despite my preference for OEM products, I cannot put up with the filty OEM pads. Not only do they leave wheels looking dirty but the dust contaminates the suspension and underbody and even leaves a black film along the lower panels of the car which can soil clothes. I like to keep our 300TE in showroom condition (it usually wins its class in concours despite being a daily driver) and now I want to bring my 190E up to similar condition. This is not possible in a daily driver with OEM brake pads.
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  #13  
Old 05-12-2003, 11:35 AM
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2 things you can do for dust management:
* get the 8-hole wheels, which are easier to clean
* coat the wheels with carnauba wax, and use a cleaner that does not strip the wax.
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  #14  
Old 05-12-2003, 12:11 PM
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Ali,

I have read some positive comments on the Metal Masters, as well as some negatives. (I believe they were even referred to as “cheap” in one thread.) I was hesitant to get them, and actually wanted the Axxis Deluxe Plus pads, which seemed to be getting universal praise, but the parts place I went to did not have them, thus the Metal Masters.

So far, they are silent. I used only brake paste on the backs. My calipers do not have spring plates or pins, so all pads will shift a bit within them. However, I am not hearing any sqeal or other noise.

The Porterfields sound great – I have read nothing but praise here and on other forums, but they are twice the cost of Metal Masters (I paid $60.00 for the set).

Eric
__________________
2001 E430 4matic
122,xxx miles
Black/Charcoal Interior

------------------------------------
Gone but not Forgotten:
1995 E320, 252,xxx miles, Black/Grey
1989 260E, 223,00 miles, Black/Black
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  #15  
Old 05-12-2003, 12:30 PM
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Steve,

I definitely will keep you all posted.

So far, my confidence in them is 100% -- had my first panic stop today and they performed better than OEM.

Rather than “breaking” them in I should say I am in the process of “burning” them in, since these are the first brakes I have ever been able to smell, although the smell is becoming weaker and weaker as the performance becomes stronger. (On my very first test drive, they actually generated some smoke.)

So far, I like them.

Eric
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2001 E430 4matic
122,xxx miles
Black/Charcoal Interior

------------------------------------
Gone but not Forgotten:
1995 E320, 252,xxx miles, Black/Grey
1989 260E, 223,00 miles, Black/Black
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