Best Brake Pads 2017 – Reviews & Buying Guide

Worn out brake pads don’t just severely affect braking performance, but they can be a real threat to your and everyone else’s safety should they fail completely. Brake pads play a vital role in stopping the car and can cause your car to fail a technical inspection if they don’t perform as intended. Obviously, you know most of this and are here because you’re after brand new brake pads, but how do you choose the best brake pads? We’ve gathered the top 5 brake pads currently on the market to save you time and money. Before we get into the actual products there are a couple of things you have to know about brake pads.

Material

There are a couple of different types of brake pads, all of them exhibiting slightly different characteristics. Non-metallic materials are made from synthetic substances which have been bonded into a composite (cellulose, aramid, and so on). They’re very light on the rotors but have a shorter service life and produce a fair amount of dust. Semi-metallic materials are synthetics mixed with some flaked metals. They’re much more fade resistant and last a lot longer than non-metallic materials, but they do wear the rotor out faster. They also require more torque to be applied.

Fully metallic materials are mostly used in racing vehicles, requiring a lot of force to work effectively but last extremely long. Ceramic materials are used in super cars most of the time. They have porcelain and copper flakes in the compound, making them more heat resistant and fade resistant than semi-metallic materials. For older cars however you’ll be looking at either non-metallic or semi-metallic materials. They’re the most affordable and offer great everyday performance.

Car Requirements

Not all vehicles can run ceramic brake pads for instance. In addition to materials cars have different pressure requirements, meaning what might be alright for one vehicle will be too soft for another. Consult the manual to find out if your car will accept the pads you have in mind. For everyday driving we recommend semi-metal compounds or ceramic if you don’t mind slightly more wear and tear. The price difference is negligible, but a ceramic pad will offer more stopping power without fading, which is especially useful if you do some canyon driving or track days.

Top 5 Best Brake Pads

Brake padsType 
ACDelco Advantage Semi-MetallicSemi-metallic
Akebono ProACT Ultra-PremiumCeramic
Wagner ThermoQuiet QC1324Ceramic
Bosch QuietCast PremiumSemi-metallic
EBC Brakes Disc Brake Pad SetSemi-metallic

ACDelco 14D652M Advantage Semi-Metallic

Best Brake Pads - ACDelco Advantage Semi-MetallicThe best feature of the ACDelco semi-metallic brake pads is that they last for incredibly long. Most semi-metallic pads don’t last as long as fully-metallic compounds, but the ACDelco ones are on par with the entry-level metallic pads. The reason for their incredible longevity and life service? ACDelco uses the best materials when creating their brake pads, with basic shims, slots and chamfers to reduce the vibration and harshness the pads make. One other benefit they offer is reduced noise thanks to a unique design giving them perfect contact area at all times.

Just like with any other set of brake pads, the ACDelco brake pads are prone to some squeaking and shrieking. But after a couple hundred miles they should set in and the noises should be gone. Once that happens you can pretty much take your mind off of the pads, knowing full-well they’re good for thousands and thousands of miles to come. They work just like the stock pads do, and that’s really the biggest pro if we had to single out just one. Installation is super easy and quick as well.

 

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Akebono ACT905 ProACT Ultra-Premium

Best Brake Pads - Akebono ACT905 ProACT Ultra-PremiumIf you want a ceramic compound the Akebono pads are the best brake pads for you. Just like the semi-metallic ACDelco, the Akebono are the best at what they do. Being ceramics they’re slightly pricier, but so are all ceramic brakes. It’s just the nature of the compound. It simply costs more to design and make. That said, the added stopping power is noticeable. Even in daily driving, you can feel that you have a lot more bite under your pedal. You do lose some initial feeling on the pedal compared to a semi-metallic pad but the more you get into the brake pedal’s travel zone the more you realize that it actually offers more feedback.

A drawback, if you can even call it that, is that they produce a fair amount of brake dust. It’s nothing major or significant, as it’s normal for a ceramic brake pad to do so, but we thought you should just know and be aware. It does mean that you’ll have to clean your wheels more often if you want to keep them looking fresh and spotless.

 

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Wagner ThermoQuiet QC1324

Best Brake Pads - Wagner ThermoQuiet QC1324Wagner is a well-known manufacturer of brake pads, discs, and drums. It’s no surprise that their ThermoQuiet range is as good as it is. They’re comparable with the Akebono brake pads, offering 15 percent more stopping power and a longer durability than stock pads, but can’t compete with the Akebono’s feedback. Despite all that, they’re 35 percent quieter than stock pads and slightly quieter than the Akebono set. Installation is easier but not as easy as the ACDelco pads. They do clip on right away but you may need to adjust them slightly to get the perfect position.

Brake dust is kept at a minimum thanks to Wagner’s excellent expertise which allowed them to create a design minimizing wear and tear. There’s not a lot more to say about them really. They’re often perceived as some of the best brake pads on sale, and indeed they are. A great choice if you want ceramic pads from a quality manufacturer with reputable quality and customer service.

 

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Bosch BC905 QuietCast Premium

Best Brake Pads - Bosch BC905 QuietCast PremiumBosch is a famous German multinational engineering and electronics company. As of 2011 they’re the largest supplier of automotive components. They produce everything from water pumps to alternators, including brake pads. It would be only logical to expect Bosch’s brake pads to be of the high-quality variety, and you’d be right in doing so. OEM designed slots and chamfers offer very little noise, almost no vibration and reduced wear and tear. A multi-layer shim construction matching the OEM style is used, ensuring longevity.

Bosch makes stock parts for a lot of car manufacturers, and if you think about it, the aftermarket parts they offer are the same or are based on their OEM products. This particular kit includes the pads as well as the synthetic lubricant needed to install them. They exhibit very little dust as well. The only drawback so far is that they’re not as easy to install as the other pads featured here. The OEM design should translate well into an easy install, but surprisingly enough, with tons of brackets and what not it can sometimes get messy and slightly complicated.

 

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EBC Brakes FA400HH Disc Brake Pad Set

Best Brake Pads - EBC Brakes FA400HH Disc Brake Pad SetEBC is perhaps even better known than Wagner and Bosch. They produce pads for racing cars, large trucks and of course, normal road cars. The FA400HH brake pad set is made from high pressure die cast aluminum with bonded brake linings. The shoes have been trimmed around the edges and have been radius grounded. This doesn’t just prevent wear and tear on the pads, but on the rotors as well. The Double H Sintered design is perfect for applications where more stopping power is required.

So why are they fifth on our list? Well despite the enormous stopping power, almost no brake dust and decent longevity, installation isn’t as easy as the rest of the pads on this list. We figured that easy installation should be a high priority when it comes to DIY home installation, especially for something as important as brake pads. Sadly enough, the EBC proved to be more challenging. That said, if you don’t mind spending a bit more time getting them on right, you’ll be pleased with them for lots of miles to come.

 

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Conclusion

If you want the best everyday brake pads you have to go with the ACDelco. It’s a no brainer. The semi-metallic compound makes the perfect for normal driving conditions and they offer decent performance even when pushed extremely hard. If you do a lot of sporty driving (whether it’s in the canyons or on the track), you want to go for a ceramic compound. The Akebono brake pads are the best of the ceramics, full stop. We already explained why. The Wagner comes in at a close second with similar performance but worse ease of installation. Bosch makes great brake pads which are a viable choice if you want pads from a reputable manufacturer. If it wasn’t for the EBC pads’ challenging install we would have ranked them second or third due to their amazing stopping power, no brake dust and unrivaled feedback.

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