What Are The Best Brake Pads? Cheap vs Expensive Tested!

Mooseman

Moderator

Was very interesting and was shocked the upper tier was kinda worse for some test compared to mid. OEM is really where it's at but at a much steeper price.
 

TobyU

Member
Tests are great for extreme conditions or if you are going for one certain aspect but I have used nothing but either Autozone Duralast, Advance WearEver, or O'Reilly BrakeBest since 1992 and I have no reason to want any better pad! Lifetime warranty, quick and easy swap out when I need too.
I get years out of them. I think the shortest life I ever had was out of some WearEver on very heavily loaded Excursion that only lasted a little over 4 years.
Most go longer than that.
Now if they keep raising the prices I might look eslewhere to try to find same or similar quality for lower price but I have had no reason to pay more for some brand name.
People on the other two forums I frequent waste so much money paying for brand in brakes (you know because THEY ARE YOUR BRAKES!---so) and on Moog suspension or motorcraft when Moog is NOT what it used to be but prices ARE!
Until I have a reason to look eslewhere, the house brands have been 100%.
 

TobyU

Member
Even after watching it....I knew the mid and upper tier would be better than the cheapie ones but they are twice as much and not twice as good. This is why I have always been happy with the standard lifetime warranty ones at the stores. I never buy any cheaper ones that aren't lifetime.
Plus....if I get lousy ones and I die in a fiery lack or brake crash...the lifetime will be just be shorter.
 
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Mooseman

Mooseman

Moderator
Definitely stay away from cheapo pads or those made by unknown manufacturers. I've had good service from ACDelco Pro pads. There is a direct correlation between price and performance but may consider the OEM pads for the most demanding applications.
 

TobyU

Member
Depends what you mean by cheapo. I am sure (haven't even looked) that there are front pads on ebay for $8!! I consider any warranty on any parts online to be only that it will work when you get it and THAT'S IT.
I fully figure that even those with 90 day, 1 yr or 3 yr will be out of business or unable to be found or will simply blow you off and you won't get any satisfaction if/when you need a warranty replacement.
As mentioned, I have been using the standard lifetime warranty pads from all the local chain stores for decades with ZERO complaints.
Back then there were only the cheapo and then the lifetime. Now, with the push to make more money and capitalize on people who want to buy same day and in person, they always have at least 2 in stock. The standard lifetime and then a "select" or "best" of same house brand and then often other brand names to give you options.
Does this mean the quality of the standard lifetime ones has gone down? Maybe. they have improved the painting of the backing plates (except for autozone who's duralast were a nice thidk red in the 90s) and the insulators or shims are better on most than they used to be.
Is the material any better/worse? I can't tell a difference.
I have run a fleet of limos and Town Cars and a a couple of party buses for the past 25 years. We average 4 years minimum from house brand pads and rotor replacement even on 22 passenger SUV limos.
I just did a set of front rotors and pads (O'Reilly BrakeBest) two weeks ago on a 175 inch stretch Town car that is 34 feet long and routinely transports 12 passengers.
The inner pads on that one were getting thin and the rotors had been on a few years and had some pitting. We bought it from a company that sold out and moved so don't know how long since they were done. The rotors might have been original but no way the pads were.

Pads are usually give and take.
Better stopping ability yields shorter lifespan and more wear on rotors.
Longer lifespan usually doesn't have the stopping 'bite'.
Sometimes longer life pads can be rougher on rotors than cheapo pads too.

There was just another test posted on an Expedition forum I believe that was a fairly higher performance car (it wasn't a Town Car LOL) where they put two internet sets on and did real world fast racing stop tests.
One set was just slotted "high performance" rotors and pads for $400.
Then the other was Wilwood pads, rotors, calipers and hoses too IIRC for $4000.

Did the 10x more expensive brakes test better? Yes BUT not 10x better!!
They BOTH outdid the factory brakes on the car.

So I will go with my most common answer in life: "It's all relative" Relative to what you want and what your goals or parameters are.

My first show car was a 67 GTO with perfect paint and body. When I got it I put Bendix shoes all the way around, new wheel cylinders, hardware kits with all the pretty painted springs etc.
Did it stop any better? Probably but not because of the Bendix brand.
But it made me FEEL better because it was my BABY! This was 1989.

I have a friend that put AC Delco parts on his GMs for decades and paid a lot for the parts too.
He has NONE of these cars now and I sold the GTO around 2001.
I don't care one bit about those shoes now.
But the older I get the more of a cheapskate (they call it frugal...I don't) I become.
I'm good with that because it is more expensive to live the older you get....BUT it sure beats the alternative.

Now if I could just get this stupid 04 Trailblazer 4.2 no random no start figured out. I might have to sell it too because I am too cheap to put any meaningful amount of money into it.
I have sold cars for less....
 

TobyU

Member
I forgot to mention my favorite part in the vid is when the brakes catch fire...not once...not twice....but it seems to be EVERY time!
I don't even think he mentions it. Like it's no big deal.
When you test brake to the point of FIRE....you are testing some brakes!!

The test I mentioned above had a time or two with some small flames but since they were stopping and they went out quickly but they certainly made a big emphatic.....look at the flames....comment!
 
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Mooseman

Mooseman

Moderator
I've been the other way around. The older I get the more I spend for good parts. Wasted too much money on cheap parts with poor performance. Learned that the hard way on brakes with rotors that would warp if you look at them funny. But I do search for the best deal possible for them.
 

coolasice

Well-Known Member
My old cavalier used to warp rotors standing still . Didn't matter what brand or quality,. 500miles later they were warped.
 

TobyU

Member
My old cavalier used to warp rotors standing still . Didn't matter what brand or quality,. 500miles later they were warped.
Normally I would say that probably comes down to uneven or over tightening of the lug nuts but most of the Cavaliers just had the cheap little pop on rotors and I don't really think it matters how tight you tighten them.
 

TobyU

Member
I've been the other way around. The older I get the more I spend for good parts. Wasted too much money on cheap parts with poor performance. Learned that the hard way on brakes with rotors that would warp if you look at them funny. But I do search for the best deal possible for them.
I can understand that theory. Especially for those of us who still do all of the work themselves, I'm getting too old to do all this work so I don't want to do it twice as often. But I'm more cheap overall. I don't value my time as much as I do the money in my pocket. I only overspend on Heinz ketchup and Paul Mitchell styling gel because I'm a snob for those products. We all have our Hang-Ups. I know so many people that won't drink off brand pop. They have one particular brand. They only drink. It's all the same to me.
 
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Mooseman

Mooseman

Moderator
It's also if they don't last as long, you're spending more to replace them (unless they have a lifetime warranty). And I do value my time more as well as my safety overall. The one time you may need those brakes to overperform you want them there and not on fire.

My mom always said "you can't afford cheap".
 

Sparky

Moderator
I'm happy with my Brakemotive stuff. Works well, price is reasonable, seem to last long enough as long as I don't have a caliper or pin get stuck and screw something up. Maybe there is better out there (probablyl but ... <shrug>

I don't need to set my brakes on fire to know whether they are ok or not lol.
 

Maverick6587

Well-Known Member
After seeing the results of the corrosion test, I think I'm going to swap out those (cheap) Detroit Axle pads next spring. I'm pretty rough on my brakes and usually warp rotors within 6 months to a year.

I don't mind changing pads and it's not a difficult job on the GMT360s, but making sure I don't have to do that because of pad failure in the middle of a cold winter is a VERY high priority.

My next set of pads are going to be Brembo. I love their backplate design and they are galvanized as well as painted. I would have gone with ACD but the fact that Brembo pads are used on Hellcats, Demons, and the Corvette ZR1 has me swayed a little bit.
 

TobyU

Member
It's also if they don't last as long, you're spending more to replace them (unless they have a lifetime warranty). And I do value my time more as well as my safety overall. The one time you may need those brakes to overperform you want them there and not on fire.

My mom always said "you can't afford cheap".
True but kind of only in extreme conditions. No one is ever going to catch their brakes on fire driving their vehicle on the roads. Few people ever even make them smoke.
Normal passenger vehicles only have issues like that when there is a mechanical failure that causes the pad to stick and in that case even if you have the best Pad made it still going to catch on fire as we saw in the video.
I just can't see anyone with a trailblazer unless it is an SS that they drag race up and down the road or pull a heavy trailer which in that case I think they need a larger vehicle to start with... Would ever need brakes better than stock. And my stock I don't mean Factory OEM I just mean whatever part store or Napa replacement pad they have for them. There is no need to have upgraded slotted or drilled brakes and rotors or high-performance anything for these trucks. They stopped more than fine.
I don't understand the mentality of having a grocery getter back and forth to work SUV and putting Parts on it like it's a race car. I have owned lots of SUVs an some with 31, 33, 35, 38, and 44 inch tires. Even those large ones didn't have any diminished braking feel from the factory system.
I have also own some fairly high performance sports cars and old muscle cars I had a lot more horsepower I'ma go a lot better than they stopped because they were Factory braking systems.
Now if you own one of the crazy tomahawks or whatever that's faster than the average Corvette then you need an upgraded brake system which that vehicle has. I'm sure it has a nice 11 or 12 inch rotors with a wide contact area that are drilled or slotted and some higher-quality component brake pads and more than likely 4-piston calipers. The things 0 to 60 is like 3.2 seconds which is ridiculous for a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Some people just love to Tinker with cars and to improve them. I understand that as I did that in my youth but I did things that to me made more sense. I wasn't making a truck into a race vehicle. I was putting lift kits and roll bars and light bars and cool stuff that was truck looking on those. I was putting camshafts and big ring and pinions in my muscle cars to make them go faster.
I have a buddy who likes to do that with cars that aren't really performance cars. I keep telling him oh, why don't you go out and buy you a fun weekend toy car to do this to.
 
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Mooseman

Mooseman

Moderator
After seeing the results of the corrosion test, I think I'm going to swap out those (cheap) Detroit Axle pads next spring. I'm pretty rough on my brakes and usually warp rotors within 6 months to a year.
If they warp that much, I'd upgrade to the SS brakes if I were you. Just need to replace the caliper brackets (available at RA new) and get SS rotors.

I would have gone with ACD but the fact that Brembo pads are used on Hellcats, Demons, and the Corvette ZR1 has me swayed a little bit.
They use their calipers but I'm not so sure they use Brembo pads in them. I have a set of Brembo calipers from a Camaro to put in my Caprice and the pads don't look so special.

My stock brakes on the LS have a little warp in them, probably from when I towed our 5000# RV trailer. And I know that it was ACD rotors and pads that were used on it by the previous owner. I will be upgrading them, hopefully this weekend, to the ACD Advantage coated SS rotors and ACD Pro pads. I will be towing a much lighter double snowmobile trailer (no brakes) and just want the best possible combo. They worked well on the 9-7x for towing that same trailer so they won't ever break a sweat. I wanted to give the coated rotors a shot as I'm tired of seeing rusty rotors even though it doesn't affect braking itself.

And drilled/slotted rotors are junk no matter the brand as they are based on junk science.
 

Maverick6587

Well-Known Member
@Mooseman You're right they use Mopar pads, at least from what I could find. I just assumed they used Brembo for both. In that case I probably will ACD pads this spring, thanks for making me check on that!

I do have the SS rotors. The brake force increase (if that's how that's worded for rotors) they put out is easily noticeable! You'll be happy about putting those on your ride! They are drilled and slotted. I hate that they're drilled I wanted just slotted rotors but, the deal was to good to pass up.
 

TobyU

Member
If they warp that much, I'd upgrade to the SS brakes if I were you. Just need to replace the caliper brackets (available at RA new) and get SS rotors.



They use their calipers but I'm not so sure they use Brembo pads in them. I have a set of Brembo calipers from a Camaro to put in my Caprice and the pads don't look so special.

My stock brakes on the LS have a little warp in them, probably from when I towed our 5000# RV trailer. And I know that it was ACD rotors and pads that were used on it by the previous owner. I will be upgrading them, hopefully this weekend, to the ACD Advantage coated SS rotors and ACD Pro pads. I will be towing a much lighter double snowmobile trailer (no brakes) and just want the best possible combo. They worked well on the 9-7x for towing that same trailer so they won't ever break a sweat. I wanted to give the coated rotors a shot as I'm tired of seeing rusty rotors even though it doesn't affect braking itself.

And drilled/slotted rotors are junk no matter the brand as they are based on junk science.
I too hate slotted or drilled rotors but I wouldn't blast the entire science behind it as you would get are many arguments from that.
Despite the fact we don't like them the fact does remain that want to go out and put some slotted rotors on a vehicle and get better results and some categories damn pudding new Factory ones on or new aftermarket ones on. As I said before and I continually go back to, everything is relative. Relative to what you're trying to accomplish. As far as flat-out stopping ability I'll take standard style rotors. If someone is looking for something else whether it might be increased cooling after multiple hard stops then they might see different temperature specs with different style rotors but I personally don't think the difference is enough to care.
 

littleblazer

Gold Supporter
I get my delco for free so... only pad that goes more than 50k on the work truck. The delco rotors were significantly thicker than the aftermarket ones too.
 

MRRSM

Lifetime VIP Supporter
From the Same VOP (Video Original Poster) Young Engineer in Post #1 conducting a Comparative Thermal Signature Performance Test of Slotted Rotors vs. OEM Rotors:


 
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Chickenhawk

Well-Known Member
In my opinion, there is far more to brake pads than simply how long they last. Fleet pads designed for long service life would be a poor choice for most of us because we also want stopping power and good brake feel. This is where the huge difference is. Better pads provide better stopping power, at the (usual) expense of either shorter life or greater dusting (or both.) Premium pads provide better stopping power without shorter life or excessive dusting.

Cheaper pads take more pedal travel for the initial bite - which I hate. OEM pads provide great stopping power, long life and minimal dusting, but I don't like the softer feel of the pedal. OEM or Akebono (which are the same as OEM on our platform) feel exactly the same. Higher end pads such as the Napa Adaptive One pads provide the same performance, with a different feel. To many of us here, the feel of the braking is almost as important as long life, no noise and minimal dusting. That's why we reopen these interesting debates again and again.

I will be testing the new Raybestos Element 3 pad soon, back-to-back with new Akebono pads. One issue with consumer reviews is that nobody (except me, of course) is stupid enough to test brand new pads back to back with brand-new pads.

As for drilled or slotted, my opinion still stands. They are only for the looks. The true science - not the junk science touted by the manufacturers - does not support the design. Serious users of brakes such as airplanes, police cars and most race cars use only solid vented rotors. Air cannot possibly turn a 90-degree corner, and the thin layer of almost stationary air right next to the rotor surface prevents any air from entering those slots or holes anyway. All it does is reduce the overall weight, which causes slightly worse performance. Thankfully, the loss is slight, which is why if people want the look - go ahead. They are certainly better than old worn rotors. We just suggest users don't try to repeat the junk science behind them in this forum. We know better.

If a 747 takes off with dust on its wings and flies half way around the world at mach .8, it will land with the same dust on its wings. That's what boundary layer air is.
 

TobyU

Member
In my opinion, there is far more to brake pads than simply how long they last. Fleet pads designed for long service life would be a poor choice for most of us because we also want stopping power and good brake feel. This is where the huge difference is. Better pads provide better stopping power, at the (usual) expense of either shorter life or greater dusting (or both.) Premium pads provide better stopping power without shorter life or excessive dusting.

Cheaper pads take more pedal travel for the initial bite - which I hate. OEM pads provide great stopping power, long life and minimal dusting, but I don't like the softer feel of the pedal. OEM or Akebono (which are the same as OEM on our platform) feel exactly the same. Higher end pads such as the Napa Adaptive One pads provide the same performance, with a different feel. To many of us here, the feel of the braking is almost as important as long life, no noise and minimal dusting. That's why we reopen these interesting debates again and again.

I will be testing the new Raybestos Element 3 pad soon, back-to-back with new Akebono pads. One issue with consumer reviews is that nobody (except me, of course) is stupid enough to test brand new pads back to back with brand-new pads.

As for drilled or slotted, my opinion still stands. They are only for the looks. The true science - not the junk science touted by the manufacturers - does not support the design. Serious users of brakes such as airplanes, police cars and most race cars use only solid vented rotors. Air cannot possibly turn a 90-degree corner, and the thin layer of almost stationary air right next to the rotor surface prevents any air from entering those slots or holes anyway. All it does is reduce the overall weight, which causes slightly worse performance. Thankfully, the loss is slight, which is why if people want the look - go ahead. They are certainly better than old worn rotors. We just suggest users don't try to repeat the junk science behind them in this forum. We know better.

If a 747 takes off with dust on its wings and flies half way around the world at mach .8, it will land with the same dust on its wings. That's what boundary layer air is.
All that you said is true except that premium pads don't always give you as long as life and better stopping ability and less dusting. There's always at least a slight trade-off like you mentioned earlier. My point is that the vast majority of drivers don't notice or care anything about that initial bite, the further pedal travel you mentioned, or basically anything else. If they care about anything at all its life span. The average person which I would say this is well over 85% a vehicle owners would say their brakes work just fine.
The only time they know they're have a problem just want to hear a grinding or scraping noise and even then the braking ability feels pretty much the same to them. If they happen to have increased pedal travel then they would notice that too but that is usually when there is a leak in the system or a bypass in the master cylinder.
Most Factory vehicles have more than adequate braking systems for 80-plus percent of people on the road. They don't even notice these things so they don't care. If their choice is between a set of pads lasting 3 years or a set of has lasting 6 year, they want the six year pass so they don't have to do it again or pay for it to be done again. To them they all stopped and feel the same.
I understand though in formus you will get some vehicle lovers, aficionados and some flat-out crazy people. It would be like me telling someone that the new Challengers have horrid paint on them! I love the car and I commend Chrysler for building the Hellcat and the Demon but the paint sucks. Almost all factory paint jobs suck! Can you say orange peel?? Then we have people that rationalize and convince themselves that it...I've actually heard this. Well, I like a little bit of orange peel on my paint! No you don't! You just convinced yourself because that's as good as your new car gets that you will settle for it and convince yourself that you like it.
So me explaining to someone what a quality professional deep glossy black paint job is or should look like is like you explaining the way you feel your brakes and what you want in your brakes to the average car owner.
In both examples the two options are a world apart but most people can't even tell the difference.
 

Chickenhawk

Well-Known Member
I agree with you entirely. We pride ourselves on being enthusiasts in this forum. It doesn't mean we don't see the figurative "orange peel." It means we share information to keep our vehicles running good, solve problems and customize the ride, performance, enjoyment and looks. We don't duck the problem areas.

Yes, we are the 15% who want better. If there wasn't the 85% of vehicle owners with no clue how their brakes operate, then the big chains wouldn't be reaping a ton of money by packaging their cheapest, fastest-wearing and worst-performing brake pads up as "lifetime" brakes, just so they can keep the unknowing customer coming back again and again, to upsell them on all the parts NOT covered by the so-called "lifetime brakes" scam. They give away brake pads that cost them about $10, and the customer pays over $100 just for all the other parts that they "discover" must be replaced. The way the scam works is simple; cheap pads can be given away for free, but if the customer chooses not to replace all the parts they find "need" replacing, they warn them that "the lifetime warranty is no longer valid."

That's the value of debates like this, and forums like ours.
 

TobyU

Member
I see the theory behind it but I can't agree with all of that. Now if you buy anything else at the parts store you will get hosed. Even brake fluid is higher than at Walmart. If you buy oil there or if you buy a can of Meguiars quick detailer you will pay sometimes 40% more for it than you go other places.
I don't see these brake pads being shortest lasting worst-performing at all. I am talking Standard passenger vehicles not used for racing or stopping after drag racing or Towing any trailers.
I can also give some specific examples a vehicles who's brakes are doing a lot more than they were even designed to do that work just fine for years.
They are way beyond up to the task for stock vehicles.
Maybe they have greatly improved break pads and I just don't know. I mean, how long are you expecting to get out of the set of brake pads? When you have a pad set we're out and you don't want to replace the rotors and they're not crazy warped and you don't even turn them and just throw some new pads on, how long do you expect these pads to last?
I just put a set of brakebest rotors and pads on a Lincoln Town Car two Saturdays ago. A few months back I had to put a set of pads on another Lincoln Town Car but the rotors were just fine so I just put pads on.
These are grocery getters oh, daily drivers, back and forth to work. They don't need any increase stopping ability or resistance the brake fade and I don't care really how much dust it's on the wheels because I can go through the car wash. They aren't show cars and they aren't performance. I have no concern for hindering the stopping ability. These pads and rotors have more than enough. On old cars like these you have a much greater likelihood of blowing a brake line out if you have to push the pedal extremely hard in a panic stop then you do of having some sort of lower quality brake pad. You quickly enough.
I'm just a complete realest with years of personal experience of saying what works.
Now on a nice car or a show car I am so picky that I will pick brake pads because of the color of paint or powder coating on the backing plate itself. If you're going to paint your calipers or already have painted calipers you don't want the colors to Clash.
So it's all relative to your application and what your goals are.
People who drive their cars hard should probably get better pads because they still are going to go through them faster than the average person who just putts around town.
I don't know. I'm not trying to argue with anyone I'm just saying that we all have our different ideas and different ways that work fine for all of us. We don't all need the same things. So my question is if you go out I need to put front pads and rotors on your car.... how long is it acceptable for these to last before you have to replace the pads again?
 

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