Why Are Most UTV Brakes So Bad and How to Troubleshoot This

Poorly performing brakes are a common UTV complaint, and that is not something to take lightly. Reliable UTV brakes stand between you and a crash. This post will discuss why most UTV brakes are so bad and how to fix it.

utv riding in water.jpg

Why UTV Brakes Suck

OEM brakes are just barely able to do their job as it is. They’ve got small calipers and the brake pads are varying degrees of okay. Can-Am brake pads are the worst, wearing out in less than 300 miles.

If you’ve upgraded your UTV with larger tires, and most of us have, you made those brakes have to work even harder.

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How to Fix Brakes and UTV Troubles

You could install a big brake kit with UTV brake parts including calipers, brake pads, and rotors. This is the most expensive and complicated answer. It’s also usually not necessary. Racers need these. Not your average off-roader.

You usually just need to upgrade your brake pads. Then your big question is which UTV brake pads to replace them with. You’ll need to consider cost, durability, and usage.

Sintered Brake Pads

Sintered brake pads are a hybrid of metal and ceramic materials forming the most durable and heat-resistant brake pads available. They have a high-friction surface with plenty of bite so they’re suitable for aggressive riding and even racing. That surface also makes them ideal for muddy and wetter conditions.

The downsides are that they are a bit noisy and they wear out rotors a little faster than other types of brake pads.

UTVers who stick to easy riding on trails should look for other brake pads as the sintered brake pads require more heat than they may build-up while riding to work as intended.

Organic Brake Pads

Organic brakes pads were originally made of asbestos, but when asbestos was discovered to be carcinogenic, manufacturers began making them out of materials like rubber, carbon, fiberglass, and KevlarⓇ. They’re usually a composite of material held together with resin.

These brake pads are the least expensive brake pad options, but they are also the least durable. That doesn’t mean they serve no purpose. They are well-suited to easy riding and produce less dust than your average brake pads, so they’re a perfect low-cost, low-maintenance option for riders who just like to hit easy trails or ride around the farm. They may need to be replaced pretty often, but they’re a cheap fix and they aren’t as likely to cause dust to clean up or damage other vehicle parts. They’re also quiet, so you don’t have to worry about them spoiling your ride.

Be careful when going down hills or with aggressive braking because it is possible for the heat to glaze the brake pads, making them too smooth for effective braking.

You don’t want them to get wet either.

Semi-metallic Brake Pads

Semi-metallic brake pads are made of metals like copper, iron, steel, and composite alloys. They can be anywhere from 30-70% metal. The rest is graphite and fillers. As you might can guess, these brake pads fall between sintered and organic brake pads for a moderate, more general use brake pad.

They cost more than organic brake pads, and they can cost less, the same, or sometimes more than sintered brake pads.

They are durable enough to handle average ATV riding in most conditions, and they’re quieter than sintered brake pads.

They aren’t as good with mud and water as sintered brake pads, so you can use them in slightly muddy or wet conditions or occasionally in more extreme situations, but they aren’t the best option if you plan to do a lot of wet riding. It is possible, though not nearly as likely as it is with organic to glaze them.

UTV owners usually need the extra protection sintered brake pads can offer to stop their vehicles, particularly if they’ve made upgrades (and most of us have).

What Are the Best UTV Brake Pads for You?

Organic brake pads are the best for easy riding on even ground with your stock ATV or UTV because there’s no point in spending a lot of money on something you don’t need. Just don’t be aggressive with your brakes. That’s good advice anytime, though.

Semi-metallic brake pads are the best for the average ATV rider who doesn’t spend much time in mud or water, provided you can get a good deal on them.

Sintered metallic brake pads are needed:

  • for upgraded UTVs

  • when you want to do a lot of mudding or getting wet

  • if you ride in hilly areas, ride fast, or otherwise ride aggressively

  • if the price of semi-metallic brake pads is comparable to sintered and the extra noise won’t be a big deal for you

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