Having good brakes is just as important as having an engine that can propel you down the road. If we had to choose between braking power and horsepower, we’d choose braking power hands down. Being able to slow down or stop is one of the most important functions of your car. If you can’t do either adequately, you shouldn’t be on the road.
With that said, when it comes to brakes, there are tons of options and brand names out there to choose from. With so many options it can be tough to decide which one to buy. It’s difficult to know what brands are the best or if one is better than the others at all. Is a name just a name or does it really make a difference?
The Brand Name Matters Less Than the Type
It’s true that most high-performance vehicles have Brembo brakes for a reason. The company makes excellent brake pads. So does EBC, Wagner, Bendix, and Bosch. While some are certainly better than others, what’s really more important is the type of brake pad, not the name. There are several different types of brake pads out there.
Most brands produce a couple types, so while you may have EBC brake pads on your car, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better than the Bosch pads on your neighbor’s ride. If however, you both have the same type of brake pads (ceramic pads or semi-metallic pads), then you can start to look at performance differences between comparable products. That’s when the brand name can actually mean something.
Get the Right Type for Your Purposes
There are essentially three types of brake pads: organic, semi-metallic, and ceramic. Within these categories, there are numerous different makeups of pads from a wide variety of manufacturers. Each one has its uses, and you need to think about how you plan to use your vehicle and go from there when shopping for brake pads. Remember, name brands are important but only if they fall into the same category outlined below.
- Organic Brake Pads
Organic brakes are ones that are made of glass, rubber, resins, or some other non-metallic material. These brake pads are inexpensive and quiet. Unfortunately, the wear out faster than other brake pads, and don’t react as well to heat. They’re not recommended for high-performance vehicles but they are the cheapest option usually.
- Semi-Metallic Brake Pads
Brake Pads that are semi-metallic utilize metal – usually iron, steel, copper, or graphite – to help dissipate heat and keep the brakes from wearing away so quickly. These brakes aren’t as quiet as their organic counterparts, but they offer improved performance and last much longer, making them the better choice in most cases. They are more expensive than organic pads but not as expensive as ceramic pads.
- Ceramic Brake Pads
The ceramic used in this type of brake pad is designed to dissipate heat, last a long time, reduce brake dust, and not make much noise. They’re the go-to for high-performance vehicles because you get the best and most consistent stopping power from a ceramic pad. That said, in cold weather situations a semi-metallic pad would be a better choice. Also, ceramic pads are expensive, which is a downside, but with brake pads, you get what you pay for.
In regards to which one you should get for yourself, it’s always smart to look at what the manufacturer put on your car. If your car came with ceramics, put new ceramics on it. If it came with semi-metallic, put new semi-metallic brake pads on it. You can always put better brakes on your car but stick with the same type. This is where brand names come in.
Brembo, EBC, and Wagner all rank near the top in terms of which is the best brand. If you’re not sure what’s best for your car, talk to your local mechanic, they’ll be able to point you in the right direction and tell you what brands or what specific pads will give you improved performance over your previous pads for a reasonable price.