Best Brake Pads Reviews (2020)
Introduction To The Best Front Brake Pads and Rear Brake Pads (By Brand)
When it comes to brake pads, you can lean in a few directions. You can have “performance-oriented brake pads”, “economy-oriented brake pads”, or a mix of both. Your brake pads are an extremely important component of your vehicle, and should not be taken lightly when thinking of replacements and installations.
Having a good set of pads can mean the difference between hitting an object, and avoiding it. You can cheap out and get generic brands that ultimately, will start to fade very fast, giving you poor stopping power. You’ll also experience a ton of brake dust which will powder coat your wheels through time and make the cleaning process a whole lot harder.
Types of brake pads
There are three basic types of brake pads: organic, metallic, and ceramic.
- Organic pads are composed of organic fibers and other materials. While these types of brakes are inexpensive, they also wear out quickly, perform poorly and create an abundance of dust.
- Metallic brake pads are comprised mostly of metal. They perform better than organics but create more dust and noise than ceramics.
- Ceramics cost the most but perform better and last longer than any other type of pad. Their construction also allows them to brake cleanly and quietly.
How do you know when your brake pads need to be changed?
Unlike your engine oil, brakes don’t have a recommended maintenance schedule. How long your pads last depends on their quality, along with factors such as vehicle application and driving conditions.
Professionals can tell a set of pads that need to be replaced just by looking at them. In most cases, replacement is recommended when the brake friction material gets down to about 4mm thick. Anything 3mm or below requires immediate attention.
Pad thickness can be measured with a brake lining thickness gauge or a vernier caliper. You can also visually inspect your pads to approximate the amount of material left. Look through your wheel directly at the pad – if it looks thin, and its backing plate is close to the rotor, it’s time for a replacement.
Another, more obvious indication you need brakes is a metallic grinding noise. The sound may occur when coming to a stop, as the pad backing plate grinds into the rotor. It may also happen while driving if the pads are worn down to the wear indicators.
Finally, a low brake fluid level – often accompanied by a dashboard warning light – may indicate worn pads. This happens because, as the pads wear, they draw the caliper piston further out of its bore, displacing the brake fluid and causing the level to drop. When the level is low, the brake warning light illuminates on the dash.
Other common brake pad questions:
Here’s a summary of the most common brake questions and answers. Consumers often ask, “How much are brake pads?”, “What is the brake pads replacement cost?”, “Which material of brake pads should I go with?”
- Brake pads can range from 15 dollars for a set (two wheels), to more than 100 dollars for a set.
- Typically, shops charge between $200 and $300 to swap out a set of brake pads. The rotors may need to be machined or replaced at the same time. (We recommend buying brake pads online to avoid shop markup).
- There’s no set schedule for when you should replace your brakes. Pad life depends on many factors including, but not limited to, driving conditions and the material of the brakes themselves. A rule of thumb is pads should last between 25,000 to 65,000 miles.
- What type of pad should you choose? That depends on the type of vehicle you own, and the conditions it’s driven under. For everyday use, get a set of ceramic composite brake pads. If you want to set it up and have some added performance, get a set of kevlar brake pads, if you want all-out performance on the track and maximum stopping power then get a set of sintered bronze pads.
We’ve listed the top brake pads for 2019, so you can find the ideal match for your needs. We can’t pinpoint which set of pads you should get, primarily due to the fact that we don’t know which vehicle you need them for. Sizes vary, so instead, we targeted them by brand, this should ultimately help you find the best brake pads for your vehicle.
**If you don’t feel up to installing the brakes yourself, take your vehicle to a shop that has a good reputation. **
The top 6 best brake pads by brand for 2020
- Formerly known as Street Performance Pads. High MOT to Eliminate Fade Excellent Actuation, Modulation and Release Positive Molded for Uniform Friction Material Scorched to Raise Initial Cold Effectiveness Para-Aramid Composites for Linear Response
- Ultra-Quiet - controls noise, vibration and harshness levels Superior initial effectiveness with no required break-in period, Extremely rotor friendly for longer rotor life, Vehicle optimized ceramic formula for superior performance
- Application specific semi-metallic, ceramic and organic friction materials with First To Market coverage, Shim materials quiet noise, vibration and harshness, Consistent fit, form and function including slots and chamfers when designed by Original Equipment
- Quiet operation with rubber core multilayer shim provides increased strength and insulation against noise, Advanced aerospace alloy used in patented copper free ceramic and semi-metallic friction formula is compliant with 2025 Copper Free legislation, Protective transfer layer extends pad and rotor life
- 35% Quieter, 15% More stopping power, Longer lasting, Cleaner wheels
- Ceramic, semi-metallic, and organic formulas provide safety and reliability for a range of vehicle applications, Integrally molded - friction material molded to backing plate for bond integrity, Premium shims, slots, and chamfers help to diminish noise, vibration, and braking harshness
6. Acdelco high-grade vehicle brake pads
Without a doubt, ACDelco has been around for decades (100 years to be exact). They are a leader in the automotive parts world, and brake pads are one of those things.
You should consider getting a set of ceramic brake pads if you’d like to have a good overall everyday performance. Not expensive at all, in fact, a set of front pads should not cost you any more than 30-40 dollars. Check them out on Amazon for their lowest price, be sure to match the right fit for your vehicle.
“These appear to be the same or better quality than the factory pads. They come with everything you need to install them, including some lube to keep them quiet. I installed both sets in around 15 minutes and immediately noticed a difference. I use my truck to pull an RV and boat frequently so good brakes are important to me. I trust these pads to stop even if I have to slam on the brakes.”
Great for daily drivers
Limited applications – mostly for General Motors vehicles
5. Wagner automotive brake pads
Yet another great company that makes brake pads made for everyday type of vehicles. Whether you’re driving a Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion, or Nissan Titan, this brand is perfect for you. They are targeted towards every day type of performance, this is where the ceramic material comes in to help you with the stopping power, and overall increased life of the brake pads.
Match the correct set of brake pads for your vehicle, they should typically cost no more than 34-40 dollars on average. A set includes 4 pads in total, allowing you to either get the front brake pads OR, rear brake pads for the vehicle. So for reasonable prices, check them out for their current best price below.
“We are huge fans of Wagner ThermoQuiet brake pads. The QC465A pads replaced a set of the same pads with 50,000 miles! (a combination of highway and city miles) Although we still had some pad life left one of the factory front rotors with >147,000 miles developed a very slight warp,” a buyer writes. – Chris
“For the cost, we simply replaced pads and rotors to restore a quality braking experience. Wagner ThermoQuiet Ceramic pads continue to meet our high standards in terms of quality, performance, and price. These pads are highly recommended”, another buyer comments! – Alan
Great for daily drivers
Backed by one of the best names in the business
Not the greatest for high-performance applications
4. Bosch premium automotive brake pads
These are a more premium oriented brand of brake pads. A lot of German vehicles use Bosch as their all-around pads. German pads + German vehicles = perfect compatibility. However, it’s not only German vehicles these pads work great on. Be sure to find the right fit for your vehicle, and if this brand is even compatible with your vehicle.
Overall, you should lean towards the Bosch brand because you want to “up the ante” just a bit in terms of performance. They are by no means track-oriented, but just a bit better than most standard ceramic pads.
““These brake pads are very well made and very high quality! The pads for my application were friction rated “GG” which is very good. Everything that you could possibly need for pad replacement is included in the box: the new stainless slides/clips and silicone lube. I have installed over 100 sets of brakes pads and Bosch is now my “go to” pad for most applications. if you live in a salt/rust area, make sure that you remove the stainless clips and wire brush that area under the clips before installing the new ones that are provided. ensure that your pads slide easily and that you don’t have to force them in place.” – Steve
Great for both daily drivers and performance applications
Long service life
Can be pricey depending on the application
3. Raybestos premium grade automotive brake pads
Coming from an American origin and over 100 years in business, Raybestos is a premium grade of pads for a wide range of automobiles. Again, they are catered towards everyday types of vehicles such as Ford Fiestas, and similar vehicles. The metallic and ceramic mix enables solid life, and good stopping power for those “hard stops” we so often can experience. You’ll get a set of shim’s to help you mount your new set of pads to your brake calipers.
These are very cost effective, usually not being any more than 30-40 dollars. Just go to the section where there’s a vehicle selection option, and match your vehicle with any of the pads available by Raybesto. Go ahead, give it a try below.
“Smooth, quiet braking. My car actually drives better with these and the Professional Grade rotors. It’s like new again,” – Jane
Great for daily drivers
Not ideal for performance applications
2. Akebono premium automotive brake pads
For straight up Japanese manufacturing, specifically for premium performing vehicles, Akebono is what you should be looking for. Originating in 1929 in Hanyu, Saitama, Japan, Akebono specializes in brake technology for cars, trucks, scooters, and bikes of all types. These are semi-metallic OAM replacement types of pads that have much less fade compared to regular OEM pads you typically see. These tend to be quieter than ordinary brakes, and if you drive a vehicle such as BMW, Mercedes, or Audi, these would make for a perfect set.
Premium quality, but not at a premium price is what it seems like. You, of course, must first match up your vehicle before you choose any given set. See Amazon below to see what their current lowest cost is.
“I Replaced the front brake pads for Acura TL 2008 last week and it fits perfectly and works great. Bought extra brake grease from the local auto parts store and no squeaking so far. Left the rotors as is as they only had 60K miles on them. The rotors will likely be replaced the next time.– Claire
Exceptional service life
1. Stoptech performance brake pads
These have the biggest bite of them all in terms of stopping power, StopTech Performance Brake Pads are the way to go if your vehicle is in any way quick. Whether you’re driving a high-end Mercedes, or a high-end Nissan, StopTech is probably the better option in this instance. These are perfect for spirited street and light duty track use, compared to the above brands, these will usually produce much less brake dust when under heavy stress. Without a doubt, much like the brand Brembo Stop Tech makes some of the best brake pads for front and rear.
Each set includes everything you’d need to get it all set up in your caliper housing. Be sure to line-up your current vehicle with the proper fit, to ensure no hassle and simple installation. View Amazon below for the lowest price.
“Incredible upgrade over OEM pads on my 2017 WRX. Probably the best $ vs reward I’ve spent so far,” – Chuck
Minimal brake dust
**Extra: we have some extra guides which you will find quite useful. Finding a good set of brake pads will help you in MANY situations. Having the best tires when snowing, a good set of snow chains will make all the difference in the world.
All the brake pads listed above are excellent products worth installing on your vehicle. Which you choose depends on the type of car you own, the kind of driving you do, and your budget.
Don’t put off replacing your worn brakes any longer. Now that you’re armed with a little knowledge, take a few moments and order a brand-new set of pads.
Buyers Guide and FAQ For The Best Brake Pads
We have shared our recommended brake pads above but we understand that as they are one of the most important components of the car that you might still have some unanswered questions. For that reason, we decided to add this buying guide and FAQ section. We will discuss the features that you need to consider when choosing them, the different types and how to go about changing your brake pads. Brake pads are vital for the safety of you and your passenger and we hope this guide will help you in your decision to purchase the best brake pads for your car.
Features to Consider when Choosing Brake Pads
Before you purchase your brake pads there are a few factors to consider.
Do The Brake Pads Fit Your Car?
OK, this is pretty obvious right! Car manufacturers are always changing the parts and components in their vehicles. The brake pads that fit your 2011 model might not fit your newer 2019 model. Fortunately, at most online sites you’ll be able to check if your car model is compatible with the set of brake pads you are interested in.
The Price of Your Brake Pads
While in some areas it pays to buy cheap, this isn’t the case with new brake pads, you’ll want to purchase from a reputable brand that produces durable pads that won’t wear out in no time. You’ll see brake pads at all different price ranges and there will be set for front or back brakes to consider. While the price isn’t always an indicator of quality if you stick to the name brands and those with good reviews you should be fine.
There are three main types of material used so you’ll find organic brake pads, ceramic and Semi-metallic pads. We are going to discuss these different materials next so you can decide which is best for your use.
Semi-metallic Pads vs Ceramic Pads vs Organic Pads
In the past brake pads were made of asbestos but once it was found to be a health hazard different materials were used to produce safer products. Commonly brake pads are now made of three different types of friction material.
Semi-metallic Brake Pads – These are the type of brake pad that is found in most cars sold these days. Semi-metallic brake pads contain between 30% and 70% metal, which includes copper, iron, and steel. For many drivers, they are the preferred type of brake pad as they offer long term durability and superb heat transfer capability. They tend to perform well in all weather conditions and at different temperature ranges. They do have some disadvantages being noisier than an organic or ceramic brake pad and also a tendency to produce more brake dust than the other two.
Ceramic Brake Pads – These are more expensive than brake pads made from other materials and are made mainly from ceramic fibers with some other filler material. The advantages of ceramic brake pads are that they produce less noise and less brake dust and tend to wear down slower. Apart from the higher cost, the main disadvantage of ceramic pads is how long it takes them to warm up to an optimum temperature.
Organic Brake Pads – These brake pads are made of materials like glass, fiber, and rubber and are often known as NAO [Non-Asbestos Organic] they are reasonably priced, not too noisy and eco-friendly brake pads. The main issue with them is that because of the softer material they are made of they tend to wear fairly quickly.
When to replace your brake pads
Each time you use your car’s brakes there will be a small amount of wear and tear to the brake pads. It doesn’t matter if you are using ceramic brake pads, organic or semi-metallic the friction will cause tiny amounts of the brake pads protective coating to wear away. Eventually, over time the brake pads will become to0 thin and need to be replaced, these are some signs to look out for to know when they need replacing.
Scraping, Squealing and Scraping Noises – Usually, the first sign you’ll notice that your brake pads may need replacing is a squealing or screeching sound when you engage the brakes. Often you’ll hear this squeaky brake sound after certain weather conditions such as a rainstorm. If the sound doesn’t reappear after you’ve used the brakes a few times, it is likely that it was due to the weather. But if the sound persists then it’s probably time to have your brakes checked by a specialist.
When The Brake Indicator Light Turns On – Some car models have an indicator light on the dashboard that signals if it’s time for the brake pads to be replaced. This indicator is triggered by a sensor if the pads have become worn down. If this is the case you’ll need to get them replaced. Check with your car’s manual to see if it has this feature.
Brake Pads Are Less Than A Quarter Inch Thick – You can also inspect your brake pads by just taking a look at them. If you take a look through the spokes of your wheels you should see the brake pad located on the tire rotor. If the pad appears to be ¼ inch thick or less then it is likely that it should be replaced fairly soon.
FAQs For The Best Brake Pad
➡️ How Do Brake Pads Work?
A car braking system is made up of many parts, the brake pads are a key part as they provide the friction that is applied to the brake rotors to stop or slow a car down.
➡️ How Many Sets of Brake Pads Does a Car Have?
One brake pad set contains two disc pads, and there will be a set for the front and one for the rear so in total the usual amount will be two sets. You'll likely find that the front brake pads will wear out at a faster rate than the rear ones.
➡️ What's the Cost To Replace the Brake Pads?
If you are having your brake pad replacement carried out by a mechanic the costs will depend on a number of factors including how many brake pads require replacing and the type of brake pads. Different garages and mechanics will vary In price but at the low end you are talking $100 minimum but up to around $300.
➡️ What about Replacing the Brake Pads myself?
While it's not a difficult task it has to be understood that as your brakes are probably the most important safety feature of your car you don't want to make any mistakes when you install the pads. If you know your way around your car and have carried out other maintenance tasks it is likely that you won't have difficulty replacing the brakes pads. Many people replace their own brake pads at home and it is a fairly easy task as long as you have the right tools. You'll require a floor and jack and jack stands so that the car can be lifted and supported. To remove the wheels you'll need a lug wrench and a socket set for removing the calipers. Finally when you've completed the job and need to put everything together a torque wrench will be needed.
➡️ How long should Brake Pads Last?
Your brake pads should normally last somewhere between 30,000 to 50,000 miles before needing to be replaced. But this is a rough estimate and the mileage that you can get from them will vary with different vehicles and drivers.
We discussed earlier some of the indicators that your brakes might need replacing so it's always best to keep an eye out for them.
A lot will depend on where you are mostly driving for instance if you are driving in a city or urban area with lots of traffic you are likely to be using the brake pedal more often causing more wear. If you tend to take long drives on the highway you shouldn't run into too much traffic, the same if you are driving in rural areas.
I'm sure that you've also ridden with someone who always has their foot on the brake pedal constantly pressing and depressing the brakes, as well as annoying their passengers they are wearing away their brake pads a lot faster.
So, all in all, it will depend on where and how you drive your vehicle as well as the type of brake pads you purchase.
➡️ How can I make my brake pads last longer?
First off we recommend that you choose one of the best brakes pads sets from our picks at the top of the page. As we've discussed already we can't give you an exact estimate of how long your new brake pads will last as it will depend on where you're driving. If you are driving in urban areas with lots of traffic this is going to result in braking more often than if you are out on the freeway. But hopefully, some of our tips below might give your new brake pads a little extra life.
Keep an eye on the traffic in front of you, often it is possible to just ease off of the accelerator rather than braking when you expect the traffic ahead of you to slow down.
Try to keep your car as light as possible, and this doesn't mean throwing out your passengers! But if you remove heavy tools or items that don't need to carry each time you drive it won't need the same amount of braking power resulting in less wear and tear of the brake pads.
If you know you will have to stop, then slow down before you reach an intersection this will mean you will save having to use your brakes as much.
keep an eye on your speed, if you are driving fast you'll have to apply your brakes more when you need to slow down your car.
While these tips might help put a little life into your new pads, you should always make it your aim to drive safely and to replace them as soon as they wear out. Aiming to brake less to save costs is not what we are advocating here. So brake when necessary and make sure to follow up on any indications that your brake pads need replacing.
➡️ Should you change the brake pads for both wheels on the same axle together?
The short answer to this question is yes, the pads come in a set for a reason so both should be changed at the same time for the best braking performance.
Your car's front brake pads will wear at a different rate to the rear brake pads. The reason this occurs is that 70% of braking power is carried out by the front brake pads. When you put your foot on your brake pedal the weight will transfer to the front of the vehicle. This results in a downward force being placed on the front wheels. So each time you step on the brakes more force is utilized by the front of your car causing them to wear out before the rear brake pads.
So that's why you probably won't have to replace the rear and front brake pads at the same but let's go back to the original question and answer it. Brake pads can wear out on one side at a faster rate than the other but both brake pads on the same axle will still need to be replaced at the same time.
It is essential that the brake system on each side of the car work evenly to stop your car safely. If the brake pads aren't even, one wheel will be stopped faster which will result in your car swerving. So to prevent this from happening always replace your brake pads in pairs.
➡️ Should You change the brake pads and disc brake together?
You'll find that brake pads will wear out a lot faster than rotors or disk brakes, so there is no reason to always replace them at the same time. When you have your brakes serviced it should highlight if both need replacing or not.