Main article image depicting red steel brakes on the left, and yellow pccb brakes on the right, in a head to head visual.
Photo: porsche

The pros and cons to both steel and carbon ceramic brakes

Weighing the Advantages and Drawbacks: Steel vs. Carbon Ceramic Brakes in Perspective

March 16th, 2023

When it comes to high-performance sports cars like the Porsche 911, the braking system plays a crucial role in delivering exceptional stopping power and control. As a Porsche owner, choosing between steel or carbon ceramic brakes is an important decision that can significantly impact your driving experience. In this article, we will explore the factors to consider when deciding between steel and carbon ceramic brakes for your new Porsche 911, helping you make an informed choice that suits your driving style and preferences.

Steel Brakes

  1. Performance: Steel brakes provide excellent stopping power and offer a progressive pedal feel, allowing for precise modulation and control. They are well-suited for spirited driving on both the street and occasional track use.
  2. Cost: Steel brakes are generally more affordable compared to carbon ceramic brakes. They are the standard option and come as standard equipment on most Porsche 911 models, making them a cost-effective choice for most enthusiasts.
  3. Maintenance: Steel brakes are relatively easier to maintain, with lower replacement costs for brake pads and rotors. They are also more resistant to wear during everyday driving conditions and offer good durability.
  4. Brake Dust: Steel brakes can produce a noticeable amount of brake dust, which can accumulate on the wheels and require frequent cleaning to maintain their appearance. However, advancements in brake pad technology have helped reduce brake dust production compared to older designs.

Carbon Ceramic (PCCB)

  1. Performance: Carbon ceramic brakes excel in high-performance driving scenarios, such as aggressive track use. They provide exceptional stopping power, fade resistance, and reduced unsprung weight, resulting in improved handling and overall performance.
  2. Heat Dissipation: Carbon ceramic brakes have superior heat dissipation properties compared to steel brakes. They can withstand higher temperatures, reducing the chances of brake fade during demanding driving situations.
  3. Weight Reduction: Carbon ceramic brakes are significantly lighter than their steel counterparts, reducing unsprung weight and contributing to improved handling, acceleration, and fuel efficiency.
  4. Cost and Maintenance: Carbon ceramic brakes are more expensive to purchase and replace compared to steel brakes. Replacement costs for brake pads and rotors can be substantially higher. Additionally, they require specific maintenance procedures and may not be suitable for everyday driving due to their operating temperature requirements.
  5. Brake Dust: One significant advantage of carbon ceramic brakes is their minimal brake dust production. Compared to steel brakes, carbon ceramic brakes generate significantly less brake dust, which means less frequent cleaning and a cleaner appearance for your wheels.

Why does carbon ceramic cost so much more?

  1. Material Cost: Carbon ceramic brakes are made from a composite material consisting of carbon fibers and ceramic silicon carbide. The manufacturing process and the materials used make them considerably more expensive than traditional steel brakes.
  2. Performance Enhancements: Carbon ceramic brakes offer superior performance compared to steel brakes. They provide exceptional stopping power, fade resistance, and improved heat dissipation, making them ideal for demanding driving situations and track use. The advanced technology and engineering behind carbon ceramic brakes contribute to their higher cost.
  3. Research and Development: Developing and refining carbon ceramic brake technology requires extensive research and development. Porsche, as a high-performance automotive brand, invests heavily in research and engineering to ensure the optimal performance and safety of their vehicles. The cost of these research efforts is reflected in the higher price tag of carbon ceramic brakes.
  4. Limited Production: Carbon ceramic brakes are not as commonly used as steel brakes, especially in mass-market vehicles. The demand for carbon ceramic brakes is relatively lower, resulting in limited production volumes. Limited production can drive up the cost of these specialized components.

Closing thoughts

Choosing between steel and carbon ceramic brakes for your new Porsche 911 depends on your driving style, intended usage, and budget. If you plan to use your Porsche primarily for everyday driving with occasional spirited driving, steel brakes offer excellent performance, cost-effectiveness, and ease of maintenance. On the other hand, if you are a dedicated track enthusiast or demand the utmost in braking performance, carbon ceramic brakes can provide exceptional stopping power, reduced weight, and enhanced heat dissipation.

Consider your driving priorities, consult with Porsche experts or enthusiasts, and test drive models equipped with both brake systems to make an informed decision. Regardless of your choice, both steel and carbon ceramic brakes have their merits and will ensure your Porsche 911 delivers an exhilarating and safe driving experience that matches the iconic reputation of this legendary sports car.


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