Abstract Low friction levels for brake materials dry sliding against Al matrix composites (Al-MMCs) were observed. Al matrix composites reinforced with 30 vol.% SiC p (34 μm) were used first to fabricate a new brake drum in place of the conventional cast iron brake drum for a Chase Machine. Experimental studies on the brake materials differing in amounts of zirconium silicate (0 wt%, 4 wt%, 8 wt%, and 12 wt% ZrSiO 4) dry sliding against the Al-MMCs drum were performed on the Chase Machine in order to examine their effects on friction and wear performances. The test procedures include friction fade and recovery, load and speed sensitivities at 177 °C and 316 °C, and wear. Experimental results show that the brake material containing 8 wt% ZrSiO 4 had the best wear resistance and higher friction level. The brake material containing 12 wt% ZrSiO 4 had the highest friction level, but wear increased rapidly. The deterioration of the latter wear suggests that this brake material is unreliable in commercial applications.