LAST UPDATED: June 05, 2018

The Best Car Brake Pads (Review & Buying Guide) in 2020

Best Choice wagner thermoquiet qc465a ceramic disc pad set Wagner ThermoQuiet QC465A Ceramic Disc Pad Set
Premium Pick stop tech 309.10780 street performance front brake pad StopTech 309.10780 Street Performance Front Brake Pad
Best Value bosch bc905 quietcast premium disc brake pad set Bosch BC905 QuietCast Premium Disc Brake Pad Set

Any experienced car driver can tell you that being able to stop quickly is as important (if not more!) as being able to accelerate. That’s why having great car brake pads is crucial – they can mean a difference between hitting an object and stopping just before you touch it.

Good brake pads can help you get the best performance out of your car’s braking system, and indeed, save lives. Although it may be tempting to go for the cheapest set of brake pads, it’s not a wise choice. You need pads that are of great quality, are easy to install and that preferably last a long time. Of course, picking the best car brake pads is no easy task – with so many different products on the market, things can get confusing.

To save you time and effort, we’ve read and analyzed countless of reviews, finally coming up with a list of top 9 best car brakes money can buy. Check out the list to find the right product for you and your car.

Best Rated Best Car Brake Pads in 2020:

One of the best-quality disc brake pads on the market, the ACDelco is reliable, durable and easy to install. These pads are ceramic and semi-metallic, ultra-safe and applicable for a wide range of vehicles.

The ACDelco is tested using SAE J2784 standards for braking effectiveness, so its reliability is guaranteed. Furthermore, its noise/vibration/harshness, as well as durability and wear are all tested for assurance of quality, so you can rest assured these brakes won’t let you down – they really are of superior quality, with great stopping power.

The set features premium shims, chamfers and slots, as well as a stamped backing plate. These all work together to reduce noise and vibration along with breaking harshness. Importantly, the brakes are easy to install, as they come in a box with everything you need, including a brake lubricant to keep everything neat and quiet.

Key Features
  • Ceramic Front Disc Brakes
  • Independently tested to  SAE J2784
  • Great braking power
  • Quiet and low-dusting
  • Easy to install
Specification
  • Brand ACDelco
  • Model 17D1367CH
  • Weight 1 lb

The brand Bosch is well-known for its good-quality products and they don’t disappoint here either. Made of ceramic and semi-metallic materials, these brake pads are of excellent quality and great stopping power.

The Bosch BC905 features molded shim technology that protects shim attachments and ensures great stability. What about shim construction? OE style multi-layer provides not only good strength, but also insulation against noise. As for slots and chamfers, they’re OE designed too, ensuring excellent fit and function. The entire set is engineered, manufactured and tested in North America, so that should speak for the quality of the product.

Finally, the brake pad set is easy to install, as each QuietCast hardware kit contains everything you need to do the job right. The package comes with a synthetic lubricant as well, which should help make everything come together easily.

Key Features
  • Ceramic Disc Brakes
  • Engineered, manufactured and tested in North America
  • High stopping power
  • Molded shim technology
  • OE style multi-layer shim construction
  • Easy to install
Specification
  • Brand Bosch
  • Model BC905
  • Weight 1.8 lbs

The Wagner ThermoQuiet QC1324 car brakes are quiet, of great quality and with superior braking power. Add to that the fact they’re pretty affordable, and you get one excellent disc pad set.

With proprietary friction formulation, these brakes provide a quiet, low-dusting operation. To make everything even smoother, the brakes use a Dynamic Noise Absorption technology that targets and absorbs vibration at a point of contact. There’s also a Thermal-sensitive friction feature that adjusts the brakes to different temperatures to ensure optimum braking power in various weather conditions.

What makes these brakes special is that they have an Integrally Molded Insulator which makes the product a one-piece design (there is no shim). All in all, if you want excellent stopping power, minimal heat, vibration and noise, this may be the ideal product for you.

Key Features
  • Ceramic disc pad set
  • Dynamic Noise Absorption technology
  • Thermal-sensitive friction feature
  • Patented Laser-Shaped Friction Technology
  • Integrally Molded Insulator (one-piece design)
  • Excellent braking power
Specification
  • Brand Wagner
  • Model QC1324
  • Weight 4.3 lbs

If you’re looking for superior stopping power, ultra-reliable and stable car brake pads that you don’t mind paying a bit more for, the StopTech brakes may be the pads for you. Designed for street and light duty track use, these car brake pads produce very little break dust even when under heavy stress.

With a scorched pad surface, the brakes ensure fantastic braking performance in both warm and cold weather, while lab-developed and tested formulas provide a strong initial bite and excellent stability. All StopTech Street Performance brake pads are made from a high-temperature compound that ensures brakes are performing consistently throughout their use. This is also what makes them highly resistant to tear.

As for installation, you’ll be pleased to know the package comes with everything you need to install the items quickly and simply.

Key Features
  • Designed for street and light duty track use
  • High-temperature compound
  • Scorched pad surface
  • Great braking power
  • Easy to install
Specification
  • Brand StopTech
  • Model 309.10780
  • Weight 1 lb

The Centric Posi-Quiet brake pads are an affordable and reliable way to get the best performance out of your braking system. Manufactured using positive molding process, these pads have a more consistent friction material density throughout the entire pad. This process, which by the way is utilized by OE suppliers, ensures even wear and performance in every part of the brake pad throughout its entire life.

These pads are ceramic disc pads, guaranteed to last a long time. Their backing plates are precision cut to ensure proper fit and consistent wear, and as a result, reduced vibration and noise. The shims are mechanically attached, which further adds to the stability, proper fit and reliability of the pads (this also means you can say goodbye to adhesive goops).

And that’s not even all – these brake pads have gone through a scorching process which forces any impurities out of the friction material and ensures great stopping power. Also, installation is super-easy.

Key Features
  • Ceramic brake pads
  • Manufactured using positive molding
  • Shims are mechanically attached
  • Great braking power
  • Easy to install
Specification
  • Brand Centric
  • Model 105.04360
  • Weight 3.85 lbs

Like all Bosch braking pads, this set too provides excellent braking power, noise reduction and great quality and durability. This particular brake pad set also features a unimold design for great stability and reliability.

As the manufacturer states, the brakes are made of platform-specific ceramic, semi-metallic and non-asbestos organic, or NAO materials, which guarantee safety and durability. The pads are fitted with pre-attached rubber core shim, which is the shim style predominantly used by OE manufacturers. Like the former Bosch brake pad set we reviewed, this one too has OE designed slots and chamfers, which ensure good fit and function.

Like the previous one, this model also features molded shim technology, or its integrally molded unit that makes sure the shim stays attached at all times. The set comes in a hardware kit and is easy to install (synthetic lubricant is included).

Key Features
  • Ceramic disc brake pad set
  • Engineered, manufactured and tested in North America
  • Molded shim technology
  • OE style multi-layer shim construction
  • Great braking power
  • Good braking power
  • Easy to install
Specification
  • Brand Bosch
  • Model BP976
  • Weight 2 lbs

If you’re looking for simple, affordable and reliable brake pads for your motorcycle, check out the EBC brakes. Made of aluminum with bonded rake linings, these disc brakes are durable, of good-quality and excellent stopping power.

The EBC brakes feature a friction rating of HH, which is exactly what you want is you’re looking for the best. And as the manufacturer states, all shoes re radius ground and edge trimmed, ensuring excellent quality and stability. The material of these brake pads is top-notch, and supposed to last not as long as organic shoes, but twice as long. Talk about durability!

You’ll also be pleased to know that the set comes with original equipment style brake shoe springs.

Key Features
  • Aluminum brake pad set
  • Friction rating of HH
  • Excellent stopping power
  • Comes with original equipment style brake shoe springs
  • Easy to install
Specification
  • Brand EBC Brakes
  • Model FA409HH
  • Weight 3.2 oz

Engineered to OE standards and DOT certified, the Akebono’s brake pads are ultra-safe, reliable and durable. With their unique Pro-Act ceramic formulations, these brakes are guaranteed to last a long time all the while providing superior performance.

Quiet and smooth, the Akebono brake pads feature material formulations tht dramatically reduce brake squealing and vibration, as well as dusting. They have great stopping power, but are smooth – perfect even for those new to driving. The manufacturer states the brakes require no break-in period of any sorts, as the pads have ‘superior initial effectiveness’.

All in all, a fantastic product with a fantastic price as well.

Key Features
  • Ceramic brake pad set
  • OE standards
  • Great braking power
  • Durable and reliable
Specification
  • Brand Akebono
  • Model ACT787
  • Weight 4.1 lbs

And we’re finishing the top products list with another brake pad set from Wagner. Like the previous one, this model too is of good-quality, durability and great stopping power. Featuring a complex matrix of materials, the brake pads replicate the functions of copper but actually provide superior performance.

As the name suggests, this Wagner set is quiet. The manufacturer states these pads are 35% quieter than other brake pads on the market, and a whopping 15% better at stopping. This should come as no surprise, because this model, like the previous Wagner model reviewed above, features an Integrally Molded Sound Insulator, which makes this a one-piece kind of a product that spreads out heat, vibration and sound evenly across the entire pad.

Importantly, the brake pads are easy to install and they even come with clips.

Key Features
  • Ceramic Disc Pad Set
  • Patented Laser-Shaped Friction Technology
  • Integrally Molded Insulator (one-piece design)
  • Great stopping power
  • Easy to install
Specification
  • Brand Wagner
  • Model QC465A
  • Weight 3.02 lbs

Best Brake Pads Buying Guide & FAQ

Having a great car is meaningless if you don’t have a good set of car brake pads. Our list of top disc pads above should be able to help you pick the right product for you and your car, but if it’s not enough and you cannot make up your mind, we understand. After all, brake pads are some of the most important things to consider if you’re serious about your and other people’s safety. It doesn’t help that the market is saturated with different disc brake products, either.

But that’s why we and our buying guide are here. To help you purchase the best car brake pads, we created the chapters on brake pad features to look for, differences between various brake pads and when to change them. Read these, as well as our FAQ section to make an informed purchasing decision today.

car brake pad

Brake Pad Features to Consider

To get the ideal disc brake pads, it’s important to know what to look for. The following features are worth your consideration.

  • Type of the vehicle

This one is a no-brainer – before you purchase that great set of brake pads, make sure they actually fit your vehicle. Knowing your car model and year is crucial because things tend to change quickly with automotive makers. What fits a 2013 model doesn’t necessarily fit a 2014 or 2015 model, so make sure you know your numbers.

  • Material

Disc brake pads can be made from a few different materials. Organic, ceramic and semi-metallic are three major brake pads you can find. You should pick a brake pad set depending on how and where you plan to use your car (will you mostly drive through city and freeway, or for sporting situations?). For instance, ceramic brake pads are great for city driving under normal conditions, while semi-metallic are better for heavy breaking and versatile use. We’ll talk about major differences between the two down below.

  • Installation

Replacing your brake pads should be no rocket science – in fact, everyone should be able to do it; with clear instructions and the right hardware, that is. Always look for kits that contain everything you need to install the brake pads easily – shims, synthetic lubricants included.

  • Price

And of course, the price of disc brake pads matters too. Since brake pads are of utmost importance when it comes to road safety, it’s important to get reliable, durable pads of great quality. So, generally speaking, you don’t want to buy the cheapest brake pads you can find – ultra-cheap pads tend to be of poor quality. However, it’s also important to note that price doesn’t always indicate quality, so it’s wise to stick with reputable manufacturers first and foremost.

Major Differences Between Semi-Metallic and Ceramic Brake Pads

During the ‘50s and ‘60s, brake pads were made of asbestos, which is a mineral with fantastic heat tolerance and durability. However, it’s also a health and environment hazard, so experts had to find another way to make brake pads. Enter ceramic and semi-metallic disc brake pads.

These two types of brake pads are the most common disc pads on the market. They’re both reliable, safe and quite durable. And naturally, they both have their pros and cons. Let’s compare the two so you can decide which type is better suited for your needs.

Semi-metallic

These disc pads are made of certain metals and non-metals as well. Usually, the metal percentage is around 30%, but same pads contain even up to 60%. Copper (not for long), iron and steel are the most common metals used, but there are also certain organic or mineral filters that bind everything together.

Pros:

  • Great for sporting situations, truck driving, heavy braking and high mileage
  • Work very well in varied weather conditions
  • Great heat threshold, reduced brake fade
  • Durable, last a long time

Cons:

  • Tougher on rotors
  • Tend to be noisy
  • Make more brake dust

Ceramic

The most recent brake pads on the market, ceramic pads are made of dense, thick ceramic material. Like in the pottery industry, here too the ceramic material is fired in a kiln, but what is produced in not clay pots, but brake pads. Until recently, pretty much all manufacturers were adding copper fibers for increased friction, and although you may still be able to find such pads, the things are changing. Copper in brake pads is considered an environmental hazard now, so it will be banned by year 2025.

Pros:

  • Good for city and freeway driving under normal weather conditions
  • Low wear on rotors
  • More quiet
  • Make less brake dust
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Not good for heavy-duty driving and sporting situations
  • Do not manage heat dissipation as well as semi-metallics
  • Not ideal for cold climates

When Should You Replace Your Brake Pads

Brake pads should be checked regularly and looked at by a professional at the first sign of trouble. But when are you supposed to completely replace them? Here are some common signs it’s time to get bake pads replacement:

  • Scraping or squealing noises: this is usually a result of the shim wearing down. Sometimes, wet and damp conditions can cause a layer of dust to form on the pads, which can also cause this scraping sound. If the sound disappears after the first few times you use the brakes, the pads don’t need to be replaced, but if it continues, they definitely need an inspection.
  • Thin brake pads: it’s a good idea to inspect your brake pads from time to time. If you notice your disc pads are much thinner (less than a quarter inch) than they were when you bought hem, it’s time for a replacement.
  • Jittery braking: you should always be able to push the brake pedal easily and the braking should be smooth (unless you brake abruptly for safety reasons). If you have difficulties pushing the pedal or the braking becomes jittery, let a professional examine your car brake pads.
  • Indicator lights: most modern cars are equipped with computer systems that can notice and alert you when something’s wrong with the vehicle. Some indicator lights will let you know when it’s time to replace the pads.

Best Brake Pads FAQ:

Q:  How exactly do brake pads work?

A:  Your car’s breaking system is complex as it consists of several different parts that need to work together in order to be able to stop your vehicle quickly and effectively. The brake pads are a key component of that system.

Brake pads are used in conjunction with disc brakes. They have a brake caliper and two pads (hence the name) attached to it and the brake rotor. When you hit the brake pedal, the motion forces brake fluid to move through the caliper, which presses the pads against the rotors, leading the car to slow down and stop. The newer and of better quality the brake pads, the smoother the braking.

Q:  How many sets of brake pads are on a car?

A:  First, let’s define what a set really is – when it comes to brake pads, one set means two disc pads. Therefore, if you have them on the front and rear of your car seat, that’s two sets of brake pads. If you need to replace your front brake pads only (they do wear more quickly), that’s one set of pads that needs changing.

Q:  What is the brake pads replacement cost?

A:  If you’re getting your brake pads replacement done by a professional the cost can vary – from mechanic to mechanic, depending on how many sets need to be replaced, and on the type and brand of the brake pads you want. Anywhere between $100 to $300 per one set (front or back) is what you’re looking at.

If you decide to replace your brake pads by yourself (highly recommended if you want to save money), you’ll pay anywhere between $30 to $100 for a set, depending on the model.

Q:  How long do brake pads last?

A:  It’s good to look out for signs of wear and tear of brake pads all the time. As mentioned, if you experience screeching noises while hitting the brake pedal, or the braking becomes jittery, it’s good to have them inspected. But how long do brake pads even last?

Generally speaking, brake pads should be replaced after every 50,000 miles, but this depends on the vehicle, disc pads themselves as well as the driver’s driving habits.

For example, if you mostly drive your car in a busy city where you need to engage your brakes a lot (hello frequent red lights!), your brake pads may need to be changed sooner than this. Also, if you ride the brakes and stop abruptly often, more regular replacements are needed (after 25,000 to 30,000).

If, on the other hand, you drive your car in the country where there is not much traffic, and you almost always gradually brake, your brake pads may last for 70,000 miles. However, it’s always a good idea to either let a professional inspect your disc pads, or for you to inspect them yourself after this mileage, even if they show no sign of trouble.

Q:  Should I always change the brake pads for both wheels on the same axle at the same time?

A:  If you’re looking for a yes or no type of answer here, then the answer is YES. If you’re interested in more details, read on.

Your car’s braking system is reliant on proper working of brakes, and they are reliant on the proper working of pads. For everything to run (or rather brake) smoothly, both pads need to be replaced at the same time for one simple reason – so that they both brake evenly. Even slight differences in wear and tear can make your vehicle brake unevenly and cause accidents. For example, if you need to brake abruptly for safety reasons, you need your car to stay stable while stopping, not swerve into oncoming lane – which can easily happen if one of your braking pads is newer than the other.

Q:  Should I change my pads and discs at same time?

A:  Brake pads and rotors need to be changed routinely, however, one needs to be replaced more often than the other. And yes, you guessed it, the pads need more frequent replacement.

car brake pads

Rotors (or entire disc brakes, if you will) only need to be replaced if they get warped. Normally, the newer the car, the better the discs, but the same cannot be said about the brake pads. You need to inspect them regularly and replace them as soon as they start showing signs of trouble (screeching, jittering, etc.) In terms of mileage, that’s between 50,000 to 70,000, but this depends on quite a few factors (see above).

So, to sum it up, no, discs usually don’t need to be changed at the same time as the pads; unless they are unevenly worn or thinned out. A thorough brake service can tell you whether you should change your pads and discs at the same time.

Sources:

  1. 5 Vital Checks To Put Up To Prevent Car Accidents – Huff Post
  2. How Brake Pads Work – How Stuff Works
  3. How Often Should Brakes Be Replaced? – Your Mechanic
  4. The Complete Brake Pads Cost Guide – Auto Service Costs