The 10 Best Brake Pads

Investing in a set of the best brake pads will help ensure your car always has the stopping power it needs to keep you safe on the road. 

Are you one of those car owners who neglect their brake maintenance until something goes wrong? I hope not — the brakes are the most important safety component of any car, so taking care of them should be a top priority.

The brake pads play an especially integral role in bringing your car to a stop, but they wear out over time and need to be eventually replaced. If you’re due for a replacement, you’ve come to the right place.

Our brake pad reviews and expert researched buying guide will help you find the best car brake pads for towing or everyday driving. Have a quick look at our top picks:

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Best Brake Pads Reviews

To find out what makes each of our top picks great, keep reading. The criteria we used in the selection process can be found in the buying guide section below.

1. Bosch QuietCast Premium Ceramic Disc Brake Pad Set

Bosch is a big name in the world of aftermarket car parts and an OEM supplier for many of the world’s automakers. Its QuietCast brake pad line has a reputation of exceeding original equipment performance and quality standards.

Thanks to their use of high-quality, copper-free ceramic and semi-metallic materials, these replacement brake pads strike a great balance between driver comfort and performance, providing exceptional stopping power, low dust production, quiet operation, and longevity. 

Each pad has a rubber-core shim that not only provides increased strength but also insulates against noise during stops. A protective transfer layer extends the life of the pads, as well as the brake rotor.

The set comes nicely equipped with slots and chamfers, a synthetic lubricant, and a hardware kit to make installation easier.

Ceramic is the best material for brake pads as it delivers better all-around performance than organic and semi-metallic materials. Ceramic brake pads are an excellent choice for everyday driving; however, they tend not to be optimized for heavy-duty applications such as routine towing.

Things We Like

  • Exceptional braking power
  • Very quiet operation
  • Little brake dust
  • Copper-free, eco-friendly
  • Hardware and lubricant included
  • Long-lasting

What We Don’t Like

  • Not ideal for towing or hauling heavy loads

Bottom Line

As our pick for the best replacement brake pads, the Bosch QuietCast is an excellent mid-range option that delivers exceptional stopping power, noise insulation, and low brake dust levels. CHECK LATEST PRICE

2. Power Stop Z36 Truck And Tow Brake Pads

Power Stop is a brand known for offering high-quality replacement brake pads for heavy-duty vehicles such as trucks, and the Z36 pads are widely regarded as one of the best brake pads for towing, off-roading, and other intensive driving applications.

Unlike semi-metallic brake pads, ceramic pads aren’t particularly well-suited for heavy-duty applications such as towing and off-roading. However, the proprietary carbon-fiber ceramic materials used to make these pads make them stronger and more durable than your typical ceramic pads.

They can handle heavy loads with relative ease, and unlike semi-metallic pads, do so without producing a lot of noise or brake dust. Should you find yourself unhappy with the performance, a 3-year or 36,000-mile warranty allows you to get a replacement.

Exceptional performance aside, this brake pad set comes very well-packaged. You get eight brake pads (two for each wheel), four brake rotors, stainless steel installation hardware, and grease.

Even though it’s very expensive, its exceptional performance and extensive suite of parts and installation equipment make it worth its high price tag.

Things We Like

  • Proprietary design makes it suitable for heavy-duty towing
  • Silent operation
  • Low brake dust production
  • Comes with eight brake pads, four brake rotors
  • Installation hardware and lubricant included
  • 3-year/36k mile warranty

What We Don’t Like

  • Very expensive

Bottom Line

These Power Stop Z36 brake pads provide all the benefits of ceramic pads plus the heavy-duty stopping power of semi-metallic pads. CHECK LATEST PRICE

3. ACDelco Gold 17D1367ACH Ceramic Front Disc Brake Pad Set

Like Bosch, ACDelco is a reputable brand that has been making automotive parts for over 100 years. It is the go-to OEM supplier for General Motors vehicles.

Extensively tested for braking effectiveness, noise and vibration, and durability, the ACDelco Gold Ceramic Brake Pads provide reliable performance for a wide range of vehicle applications. Engineers molded friction material onto the backing plate to prevent premature wear, while quality slots, chamfers, and shims help reduce braking noise, vibration, and harshness. 

A stamped backing plate allows the pads to move properly within the caliper assembly, further reducing noise and vibration and protecting against wear. You can also expect little to no brake dust.

These brake pads provide great stopping power for mainstream vehicles of all sizes, including half-ton pickup trucks like the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. And since they don’t require any curing, you can install them straight out of the box.

Things We Like

  • Highly durable design
  • Solid braking performance cars and pickup trucks
  • Minimal braking noise and vibration
  • No curing required, easy installation

What We Don’t Like

  • A little bit pricey

Bottom Line

If you own a General Motors car or truck, the ACDelco Gold Ceramic Brake Pads should be high on your list of options. Their performance and durability won’t disappoint. CHECK LATEST PRICE

4. Wagner ThermoQuiet Ceramic Disc Pad Set

Often considered the best car brake pads from Wagner, the ThermoQuiet Ceramic Disc Pads solid performers in everyday driving but less so in heavy-duty or high-performance applications. 

Wagner’s engineers fused the friction material, insulator, and backing plate into a one-piece design to achieve better heat tolerance and lower vibration. 

These pads strike a nice balance between performance and durability and produce virtually no brake dust. Drive like a sane person, and you can expect a set to last you at least 70,000 miles (112,654 km), which is a very long time for brake pads.

When you buy the Wagner ThermoQuiet, you get all the necessary hardware needed for easy installation. Even though it’s compatible with most vehicle types, double-check to make sure they will fit your vehicle.

Things We Like

  • One-piece design for added durability and longevity
  • Effectively dissipates heat, sound, and vibration
  • Low brake dust
  • Installation hardware included

What We Don’t Like

  • Not ideal for towing or hauling heavy loads

Bottom Line

The Wagner ThermoQuiet Ceramic Brake Pads are an easy-to-install, no-hassle option that provides great all-around performance and durability in regular, everyday driving. CHECK LATEST PRICE

5. Power Stop Z26 Extreme Performance Carbon-Ceramic Brake Pad

Yet another set from Power Stop, this time for high-performance vehicles instead of heavy-duty ones. 

The Z26 shares a lot of technology with the higher-ranked Z36 model, featuring a chamfered and slotted carbon-fiber ceramic build with stainless steel shims for faster, noise-free braking. 

A powder-coated backing plate not only enhances braking performance but also resists rust and corrosion to extend the life of pads. 

These are some of the best brake pads for sports cars, muscle cars, and even supercars. Like the Z36, they come packaged with stainless steel installation hardware, brake grease, and a 3-year or 36,000-mile warranty.

You will have to pay a bit more for them than most of the other models on our list, but the general consensus is that they are good value considering their unprecedented performance.

Things We Like

  • Strong braking power and durability for high-performance cars
  • Noise-free operation
  • Low brake dust
  • Installation hardware and lubricant included
  • 3-year/36k mile warranty

What We Don’t Like

  • Expensive

Bottom Line

If you own a sports car or muscle car, you may find that the Power Stop Z26 Extreme Performance Carbon-Ceramic Brake Pads are quieter and produce less brake dust than your stock pads while meeting or exceeding their braking performance. CHECK LATEST PRICE

6. Akebono ProAct Ultra Premium Ceramic Brake Pad Set

Japan’s Akebono is one of the largest suppliers for OEM brake pads and is a top choice for many American, European, and Asian automakers. The Akebono ProACT Ultra-Premium Ceramic Brake Pads provide reliable braking performance without straining your brake rotors. 

Designed with a vehicle-optimized ceramic formula for superior performance, these pads diminish noise, vibration, and harshness with ease and don’t heat up quickly due to their high heat tolerance. Engineers also saw to it that brake dust won’t be an issue. 

Their smooth braking operation improves pad wear performance, meaning a longer lifespan.

As with most car owners, Akebono’s replacement brake pads are likely to be a good fit for your vehicle and driving style. However, they are a bit on the pricey side.

Things We Like

  • Good braking power
  • Gentle on the brake rotor
  • Silent operation
  • Highly durable, long-lasting
  • Little to no brake dust

What We Don’t Like

  • Pricey

Bottom Line

The Akebono ProACT Ultra-Premium Ceramic Brake Pads are a great upgrade over the organic or semi-metallic pads on most cars. CHECK LATEST PRICE

7. ACDelco Advantage Ceramic Disc Brake Pad Set

ACDelco fields another set of great brake pads in the form of the Advantage Ceramic Brake Pad Set. 

This line of brake pads uses ceramic, semi-metallic, and organic formulas to provide safe, reliable performance for a wide range of vehicle applications. Well-integrated slots, chamfers, and shims help diminish braking noise, vibration, and harshness.

There is no curing or machining required, so they can be installed right out of the box. However, the pads may be slightly oversized for some vehicles, requiring them to be filed down to achieve a proper fit.

If you didn’t know, ACDelco is an OEM parts supplier for General Motors, so even though these brake pads will fit some models from other automakers, they are optimized for GM-brand vehicles, particularly those from Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Saturn, and Pontiac.

Things We Like

  • Smooth, reliable, and quiet braking power
  • Low braking noise, vibration, and harshness
  • Easy-to-install
  • Very affordable for ceramic brake pads

What We Don’t Like

  • May require filing to achieve a proper fit

Bottom Line

These brake pads from ACDelco are surprisingly affordable for ceramic pads, and they come from a very reputable brand. You can’t go wrong with them. CHECK LATEST PRICE

8. Wagner QuickStop Ceramic Disc Pad Set

Designed, tested, and certified in the USA, these quality brake pads are a solid option for anyone looking for a great performance bargain.

For starters, having ceramic as the friction material puts the Wagner QuickStop a notch above most non-ceramic brake pads, especially in terms of brake dust buildup, noise insulation, and durability. 

An application-specific design helps reduce noise and vibration for a quieter ride, while a 100% post-curing process ensures optimal friction performance throughout each pad’s service life. Installation is fairly easy and straightforward thanks in part to the OE-style lubricant that’s included in each package.

And to think you get all of this for the price of two Big Mac meals! 

It’s worth noting that some users have complained about excessive brake dust buildup and an odd smell during the break-in period.

Things We Like

  • Application-specific, low copper compliant ceramic design
  • 100% post-cured process
  • Easy-to-install
  • Incredibly affordable

What We Don’t Like

  • Some units may have issues with excessive brake dust buildup
  • May produce odd smell during the break-in period

Bottom Line

For those on a tight budget, the Wagner QuickStop Ceramic Disc Pad Set is a great budget option that delivers decent stopping power, durability, and noise-insulation, as well as low brake dust buildup. CHECK LATEST PRICE

9. Motorcraft BRSD756 Front Severe Duty Pad

Motorcraft is a reputable OEM supplier that makes aftermarket car parts mostly for Ford and Lincoln vehicles. 

These quality brake pads have a hardened steel backing plate for increased bonding strength and the reliable performance of the top friction material under high pressure.

A special coating protects the backing plate from rust and corrosion, while shims reduce noise, vibration, and harshness. Engineers cut the friction material with perfect precision to prevent it from rattling or clattering on the rotors, further reducing noise levels.

These ceramic brake pads have a wide temperature range, allowing them to operate effectively in the cold or heat, as well as in wet or muddy conditions. They also don’t produce a lot of brake dust and come ready-to-install with all necessary hardware.

 If you drive a Ford or Lincoln vehicle, they are for. If you drive a vehicle from another automaker, consider one of the other options on our list.

Things We Like

  • Durable design, good stopping performance
  • Little to no brake noise or dust
  • Wide temperature range
  • Includes installation hardware

What We Don’t Like

  • Very vehicle-specific

Bottom Line

Ford boys and gals, these high-quality brake pads from Motorcraft were designed with you in mind. CHECK LATEST PRICE

10. Bosch BE923H Blue Disc Brake Pad Set

Last but not necessarily least on our list of best car brake pads is yet another Bosch product, the Bosch Blue Disc Brake Pad Set. 

These brake pads use advanced NAO-Ceramic and semi-metallic formulas for optimal performance in everyday driving. Multi-layer shims provide noise insulation, while slots and chamfers make installation easier.

They have a layer of rust-inhibitive coating and come packaged with a hardware kit and synthetic lubricant.

Bosch’s Blue Disc brake pads are a good option for regular, everyday drivers who seek performance at a very affordable price. However, since they use organic and non-metallic materials instead of ceramics, brake dust and noise may be an issue.

Things We Like

  • Provides enough braking performance for most drivers
  • Rust-inhibitive coating
  • Includes installation hardware lubricant
  • Very affordable

What We Don’t Like

  • Brake dust and noise may be an issue

Bottom Line

Bosch delivers a set of no-frills brake pads that are more than adequate for easy, everyday driving. CHECK LATEST PRICE

Brake Pad Buying Guide

Best brake pads on a rotor

The brakes are the most important part of your car with regards to the safety of yourself, other motorists, and pedestrians while on the road, so it’s crucial that you have a good set of brake pads on your vehicle at all times. 

If, after completing our best brake pads reviews section, you still can’t decide on what set to get, this detailed, expert-researched buying guide will help you further narrow down your options.

What Are Brake Pads?

Brake pads are a key component of the braking system used by cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles. Their design incorporates a plate that acts upon the brake disc rotor to create friction for slowing down and stopping your vehicle.

A standard disc brake setup usually has two brake pads per rotor, contained and actuated by a caliper. However, the calipers on some race cars can have up to six pads.

Did you know that the front brakes handle most of the stopping in cars and, therefore, wear out faster than the rear pads? To account for this performance discrepancy, the front brake calipers and pads on most vehicles are typically larger than the rear ones and sometimes differently-shaped.

The difference in size and shape makes it impossible for the front and rear brake pads to be interchanged since the front pads won’t fit the rear calipers, and vice-versa.

How Do Brake Pads Work?

Brake systems turn a car’s kinetic energy into friction to slow the tires and bring the car to a stop. More specifically, stepping on the brake pedal triggers hydraulic fluid to be transferred to the caliper, causing it to squeeze the brake pads against the spinning brake rotor, creating friction that slows the rotor’s spinning, and therefore your car, to a stop.

Even though the hydraulic fluid, calipers, rotors, and other brake system components all play a crucial role in stopping your car, it’s the brake pads that are on the front line doing the grueling work. 

Most modern brake pads are designed to withstand the enormous amounts of friction and heat generated during the braking process. However, the friction and heat do wear them down over time, and they need to be replaced at set intervals to ensure your brakes work optimally at all times.

Benefits Of Brake Pads

It’s incumbent upon every motorist to have a good set of brakes at all times. Let’s have a close look at the ways having well-functioning brake pads benefit you.

Safe Driving

The brakes pads are directly responsible for creating the friction that brings your car to a stop, but they wear out from continuous use and become less effective at doing their job as time goes on. 

Replacing worn-out pads with a high-quality set helps ensure your braking system can always create the friction needed to prevent you from crashing into a tree or worse.

Noise Reduction

Worn-out brake pads can be a source of unpleasant and even distracting noises that impede driving comfort and affect your driving. These noises are often the first warning signs that the brake pads need to be replaced, so don’t ignore them.

A set of new brake pads will eliminate the noises typically associated with worn out pads, improving your driving comfort and reducing driver distraction.

Save Money

Inspecting your brake pads and replacing them when necessary will save you money in two ways. First, if you’re not maintaining your brakes, you risk having to replace the entire brake system, which can be very expensive. On the other hand, simply replacing worn-out brake pads before they damage other brake system components will be much cheaper.

Second, a safe, properly-maintained vehicle will preserve and possibly even lower your insurance rates if you ever find yourself in an accident. It may also increase your insurance claims.

Types Of Brake Pads

Brake pads are primarily classified by the type of material they are made of. We’ll go over the three main types of brake pads (organic, ceramic, and semi-metallic) and highlight the advantages and disadvantages of each one so that you can find the most compatible set for your vehicle and driving style.

Organic Brake Pads

Also known as non-asbestos organic (NAO) pads, organic brake pads are the most common type of brake pad due to their predictable and quiet performance and affordable price. They are made from a blend of material such as fibers, glass, rubber, carbon, and Kevlar, held together by resins.

Organic brake pads are soft, fairly quiet, and are very easy on the brake rotors, making them a good option for daily driving.

However, they wear out quicker than other pads, have a soft brake pedal feel that requires the pedal to be stepped on harder, produce a noticeable amount of brake dust, and can’t handle overheating well. 

Needless to say, organic brake pads are not suitable for high-performance, heavy-duty use.

Ceramic Brake Pads

Ceramic brake pads represent the latest in brake pad technology. Made from kiln-fired ceramic materials mixed with fine copper fibers, they deliver excellent performance and durability, are very quiet, have a good pedal feel, produce a low amount of brake dust, tolerate heat very well, and are extremely durable and long-lasting.

With such incredible performance, is it any wonder that they are commonly found on high-end cars?

The flip side is that ceramic pads are more expensive than the other types of brake pads. Also, their ability to resist heat makes them less suited to extreme cold than organic pads.

Semi-Metallic Brake Pads

Whereas ceramic brake pads excel in performance and driver comfort, semi-metallics are designed for outright performance. They use a high percentage of steel, copper, iron, and other metals in their construction (around 30-70 percent) to provide better stopping power, fade-resistance, and heat-resistance than both organic and ceramic pads. 

Indeed, semi-metallic brake pads are the most durable type of brake pad and work well in the widest range of temperatures, be it extreme heat or extreme cold. Expect them to last longer than organic pads, but not quite as long as ceramics. 

The drawbacks are that they are noisier, produce more brake dust, and are more aggressive on the brake rotors than ceramic and organic pads, especially ceramics.

Shortcomings aside, semi-metallics are typically the best brake pads for towing and hauling heavy loads.

Top Brake Pad Brands

While there is no single best brake pad brand, Bosch, Akebono, Wagner, and Brembo are some of the biggest, most reputable names in the game.


Bosch Auto Parts is the aftermarket automotive division of Bosch, a German multinational tech conglomerate that has built a solid reputation for making high-quality products for not only the automotive market but also for home and industrial applications. 

The company is an OEM supplier for many of the world’s automakers, and its aftermarket car parts have a strong track record of meeting or exceeding original equipment performance and quality standards. The Bosch QuietCast earned a spot on our list of best replacement brake pads.


Japan’s Akebono was founded in 1929, at a time when the Japanese automotive industry had only produced 400 vehicles. The company has since developed its expertise in braking solutions to become an industry leader, employing over 9,000 people and fielding top-rate products like the Akebono ACT905 Disc Brake Pad Kit.


Founded in 1891, Wagner was initially a self-starting desk fan motor company that later dived into the horseless carriage market with a series of lighting and brake products. 

The company is now a respected leader in both segments and produces a broad selection of top-shelf automotive brake parts such as the Wagner ThermoQuiet Ceramic Disc Brake Pad Set.


PowerStop is a brand that specializes in developing heavy-duty and high-performance brake system components. Since introducing its first brake rotors and pads in 1995, the company has grown to become a highly respected brand that offers a complete line of high-quality, application-specific brake kits.

The Power Stop Z36 is one of the most capable brake pads for towing and other heavy-duty applications.


Brembo is a well-known Italian manufacturer of automotive brake systems for high-performance cars and motorcycles. After producing its brake discs for the spare parts market in 1964, the company quickly broadened its offerings to include other brake system components.

Today, Brembos’s brake pads are renowned for their performance on and off the race track and can be found on many high-performance sports cars and supercars

Features Of The Best Brake Pads

The previous sections discussed what brake pads are, how they work, and the different types available. Let’s distill all of that information down to eight key considerations for finding the best replacement brake pads for your car and driving style.


No matter how great your new brake pads are, they will be completely useless if they can’t fit your vehicle. The automotive industry changes so quickly that pads that fit a particular model won’t necessarily fit a newer version of that same model, so always determine your vehicle model and year before buying any set.

The specifications of the brake pads usually indicate whether or not they are compatible with your vehicle. You can also check your car owner’s manual to find what size and shape of pads you need.


Brake pads can be made from different materials that each have their advantages and disadvantages. Choose the material based on how you drive and where you drive.

As the ideal brake pad material, ceramic offers the best combination of driver comfort, durability, and performance. Semi-metallic pads sacrifice comfort for outright performance, while organic pads are the budget option, offering good driver comfort but lagging the other pads in performance.

If you own a small or average-size vehicle and aren’t a crazy driver, organic brake pads will serve you well. On the other hand, if you drive a high-end sports car or supercar, a set of high-quality ceramic brake pads would be the ideal choice.

Semi-metallics are typically the best brake pads for towing and other heavy-duty applications. They are ideal for heavy-duty vehicles that require a lot of braking power, particularly those that lug around heavy loads on a regular basis.

Durability, Longevity

A set of brake pads can last anywhere from 30,000 to 70,000 miles (48,280-112,654 km) depending on your driving style and the materials used to make them. Ceramic pads last the longest, followed by Semi-metallic pads, and then organics.

Of course, no matter how good the brake pads are, the more you use them, the faster they wear out. Frequent stop-and-go driving and sudden stops take a serious toll.

Drive like a regular joe or jane, and you might be able to get 100,000 miles (160,934 km) out of your brake pads, especially if they are ceramics.

Operating Temperature

Brake pads operate optimally at a certain temperature range, so the higher the operating temperature, the more enduring and durable a particular model is.

Stock brake pads can heat up to around 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 celsius) during regular everyday driving and are designed to withstand short bursts of higher temperatures without issue. Sustained temperatures of 500 degrees (260 Celsius) or higher can cause them to wear out faster.

Stock replacement brake pads will literally melt if they heat up to 1000 degrees (538 Celsius), but some high-performance models can handle such high temperatures.

Ease of Installation

We think that installing brake pads should be so easy that you or anyone else shouldn’t need the help of a technician to do it. It helps when the set comes with the right installation hardware and clear, detailed instructions. 

Try to get a brake pad kit that includes all the necessary tools (grease, shims, etc.) for getting the job done easily.

Brake Dust

The grinding of your brake pad and rotor causes metallic particles to become airborne. Although brake dust will likely not damage your brakes, it can make your wheels unpleasant to look at.

If you don’t want to find yourself always cleaning your wheels, choose brake pads that produce little brake dust. Ceramic pads are optimal in that regard, while semi-metallic pads are the worst. Organic brake pads fall somewhere in between.

Brake Noise

Braking results in a unique sound that is made worse depending on the materials used by the brake pads. Ceramic brake pads tend to make the least amount of noise during braking and are ideal for those who place a premium on driver comfort.

Semi-metallic pads are designed for performance, with far less regard for noise levels. They are the loudest type of brake pads. 

Organic brake pads produce more noise than ceramics but less than semi-metallics.


Since your brakes are the most important part of a car when it comes to road safety, it’s imperative that you get quality brake pads that are safe, dependable, and durable. Don’t needlessly put yourself at an increased risk of sustaining an accident just to save some money.

It’s also worth noting that cheap, low-quality aftermarket brake pads tend not to last very long and need to be replaced more often. This will cost you more money in the long run than if you had splurged on a high-quality set.

Finally, choose a trusted brand over a less credible one, and always do your research. Bosch, Wagner, AcDelco, Akebono, and Power Stop are among the best replacement brake pad brands.

How To Install Brake Pads

Man installing best brake pads

You might be surprised to find that installing disc brakes is not all that difficult. With a few basic tools and the right instructions, you should be able to quickly and easily replace the ones on your car by yourself and save a lot of money in the process.

We’ll go over the tools you will need, the steps for removing your old brake pads, and the steps for installing your new ones. If you get stuck and need a visual demonstration, watch this video:

Tools You Will Need

Using the following tools will make the process of removing and installing the brake pads easier and safer, though not every item is necessary. You may find it convenient to get a brake caliper toolkit, which will come with everything you need for the job.

  • A set of good brake pads.
  • Pair of mechanic’s gloves to protect your hands.
  • Safety goggles and a dust mask to shield your face from brake dust and other debris.
  • Hydraulic jack and jack stands to raise and support the car off the ground.
  • Lug wrench for loosening and removing the lug nuts.
  • Torx / Allen set if your brake caliper bolts are held in place with Torx or Allen bolts.  
  • Brake pad spreader or large c-clamp to retract the piston.
  • Brake grease in case your new brake pads didn’t come packaged with some.

Removing The Wheels

You will need to remove your car’s wheels to access the brake pads. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1. Loosen your wheel’s lug nuts. If they’re too tight, consider applying penetrating oil such as WD-40 to lubricate them. 

Step 2. Once the lug nuts are loosened, use a hydraulic jack to raise your car. The goal is to get the wheel off the ground so that it can be removed.

Step 3. Position the jack stand under the car’s frame, then remove the hydraulic jack.

Step 4. Once you’re sure that the car’s weight is safely supported by the jack stand, remove the lug nuts and remove the wheel to expose the braking system.

Step 5. Put the wheels in a safe and secure place where they won’t interfere with your work.

Removing Old Brake Pads

Now that you have access to the braking system, the next step is to remove the old brake pad. 

Step 1. Turn your car’s wheels to gain better access to both sides of your braking system.

Step 2. Brake pads are typically contained in a caliper that serves as a clamp, pressing the pad against the rotors to provide stopping power. Find the pair of slider bolts or pins securing the brake caliper, and remove them with the wrench to expose the pad. 

Step 3. Slide the caliper off the brake rotor. You will notice that the caliper will still be attached to the brake line when you remove it — whatever you do, don’t leave it dangling or hanging by the brake line! You definitely don’t want to damage the brake line.

Step 4. Carefully place the caliper on top of the rotor, or hang it to the wheel well using a piece of wire. The caliper can cause the brake line to snap if it drops, so make sure it’s completely supported before moving on.

Step 5. It’s finally time to remove the old brake pads. How they are taken out will depend on the type of car you have; however, they typically snap or slide out and may require you to exert some force to dislodge them. Be careful not to damage the caliper or brake line when removing them.

Installing New Brake Pads

With the old pads removed from the brake caliper, it’s time to install the new ones. The steps are as follows:

Step 1. New brake pads often come packaged with a small packet of grease. Apply this grease onto the contact edges and back of the brake pad so that they don’t squeak when under normal operation.

DON’T get any of the grease on the inside of the brake pads or the rotors since that will disrupt the friction those two pieces create to slow down your vehicle.

Step 2. After applying the brake grease, slot the new brake pads in the same spot and orientation as the old pads you removed. Some new brake pads come with pre-installed clips, while others require you to install the clips yourself.

Step 3. The calipers need to be adjusted to fit the new brake pads, which are thicker than the old ones. To do this, place one of the old pads into the caliper assembly and against the pistons, and use a brake pad spreader or a large c-clamp to compress the pistons back into their bores.  

Step 4. With the pistons retracted, the calipers should fit over the new brake pads. Insert the slider bolts you removed earlier, and tighten them using the appropriate amount of torque for the hardware.

Step 5. Straighten the car’s wheels, re-mount the tire, hand fasten the lung nuts, remove the jack stand, lower the vehicle back to the ground with the jack, and torque down the lung nuts. You’re done!

Taking Care Of Your Brake Pads

Even the best-made brake pads won’t perform optimally or last very long if neglected. Taking care of your brake pads is not only essential to the good performance of your vehicle, but it’s also paramount to the safety of you and everyone you encounter while driving.

Let’s look at the major warning signs that indicate it’s time for new brake pads and the things you can do to ensure the optimal performance and longevity of your investment.

Warnings Signs You Need New Brake Pads

It’s important that your brake pads are routinely checked so that corrective measures can be taken once signs of trouble appear. Here five warning signs to look out for.

1. Wear Indicator Squealing Sound

Most brake pads have built-in “wear indicators” that emit a screeching or grating sound to let you know when the pads have worn down to dangerously low levels. You will typically hear this unpleasant noise when the car is moving, not when it has stopped. Don’t ignore it, and certainly don’t keep driving your car until you have replaced the affected brake pads.

2. Metallic Grinding Sound

You might also hear a growling or grinding sound when the brake pads are severely worn. It is the result of the brake caliper and rotor rubbing each other because the pads are too thin to act as a buffer.

Not replacing the worn brake pads immediately puts the whole brake system at risk of serious damage.

3. Poor Brake Performance

Here is an obvious tell-tale sign of worn brake pads: After applying the brakes, your car takes longer to come to a complete stop than it once did.

It’s dangerous to continue driving in such a condition — when the brake pads stop working entirely (they will), the consequences can be dire.

4. Car Pulls To One Side

Brake pads normally wear down at different rates. Sometimes, the pads on one side of your car will thin out faster than those on the other side. When this happens, the car may pull to one direction when you apply the brakes.

Leaving this problem unchecked puts you at risk of inadvertently hitting something and places unnecessary stress on other components of your car such as the steering rack. Have it investigated immediately.

5. Shaking Brake Pedal

If you notice the brake pedal shaking or shuddering whenever you step on it, the brake pads may be the culprit. Overheating can cause the binding resin holding the brake pads together to not distribute uniformly across the brake rotor, potentially causing vibrations in the brake pedal.

Brake Pad Maintenance Tips

Here are five maintenance tips that, if followed, will keep your brake pads in optimal working condition throughout their surface life.

1. Routinely Inspect Your Brake Pads 

Inspecting your brake pads on a regular basis will allow you to keep track of their deterioration and promptly detect and fix any issues that may arise. Experts advise checking up on them every 10,000 (16,093 km) miles or so. 

Look out for any signs of problems (uneven wear, strange noises, etc.), and don’t ignore them.

2. Avoid Carrying Too Much Weight

Whether you’re carrying loads of passengers, hauling extra cargo, or towing a trailer, padding on weight will require your brakes to exert more force to stop your car. Carrying a heavy load once in a while is usually not a problem; however, doing so on a regular basis can greatly shorten the life of your brake pads, rotors, and other brake system components and reduce your braking performance.

Consider investing in heavy-duty brake pads that accommodate the hauling and towing of heavy loads.

3. Avoid Unnecessary And Abrupt Braking

The more you use your brakes and the more abruptly you stop, the more stress is placed on your rotors brake pads, and the quicker they wear down. To prolong the life of your braking system, keep your driving speed to a minimum, and avoid taking routes that require you to make frequent stops.

4. Check Brake Fluid Level

Dirty or low brake fluid levels can damage key brake components such as the brake lines and master cylinder, causing your brake pads to work harder than necessary and possibly reducing the effectiveness of your car’s ABS and/or traction control systems.

Brake fluids should be inspected at least once a year and changed whenever necessary. If there are no apparent issues, experts recommend changing it once every two years or any time major brake replacement is performed. 

5. Replace Brake Pads In Pairs

Brake pads should be replaced in pairs, even if only some of the pads are worn. For instance, if the front left units are worn, you need to replace both the front left and right units. 

The goal is to achieve a balance in performance. If one wheel brakes more than the other, the brake pads doing most of the work will wear down quicker. Moreover, your car may “steer” in one direction during hard braking, which isn’t safe.

Brake Pads FAQs

Best brake pads question driving sign

Here are succinct answers to some of the most commonly-asked questions about brake pads.

Ceramic Or Semi-Metallic Brake Pads – Which Is Better?

It depends on what kind of driving you do and what you use your car for. Even though ceramic is the best brake pad material, it does not deliver the best results in every performance metric.

Ceramic brake pads tend to be better for daily driving because they are less noisy, provide more driver comfort, produce less brake dust, and last longer, while semi-metallic brake pads are better suited for heavy-duty applications due to their rugged and durable construction.

If you drive a regular passenger car such as a sedan, crossover, or sports car, ceramic brake pads will be the ideal choice. If you’re manning a work vehicle such as a heavy-heavy truck, SUV, or tractor, we recommend going with semi-metallic brake pads.

How Many Brake Pads Do Cars Have?

A typical mainstream vehicle utilizes eight brake pads for stopping — two pads per wheel. Bear in mind that new replacement brake pads are usually sold in sets of four, so you’ll need to acquire two sets if you plan to replace all of your brake pads.

Sometimes, the front and rear wheel pads are of a different design and/or size. Should that be the case, get a set of four pads for your front wheels and another set of four for the rear. Getting two sets of four equally-sized pads wouldn’t make sense.

Should I Replace My Brake Pads At The Same Time?

Not necessarily. While there is usually no need to replace all of your car’s brake pads at the same time, you should always replace both front or both rear brake pads in pairs so that braking performance is balanced between both wheels.

The brake pads on a car wear down at different rates. Since the front brakes provide up to 70 percent of your car’s braking power, the front pads wear out at a much faster rate than the rear ones. Such is the disparity that the front pads may have to be replaced twice as much as the rear ones.

Can I Replace My Brake Pads Myself?

Yes. With the right tools and instructions, you should be able to change your car’s brake pads easily and quickly. However, not all brake systems are created equal, and simply changing the brake pads will not necessarily address the braking problems you might be experiencing.

The brake job may sometimes require also replacing crusty calipers, thin rotors, and other components, possibly adding a layer of complication that necessitates the help of an expert.

Can I Swap The Front And Back Brake Pads?

The front brake pads wear down significantly faster than the rear ones because they do most of the stopping work. While it’s sometimes possible to swap the front and back pads, it’s not advisable. 

The amount of wear sustained by the rear pads may render them unsuitable for front-duty work, so installing new brake pads is the better, much safer option. Should money be an issue, you should be able to easily find a set of quality brake pads for under $50.

Final Thoughts

Don’t be one of those car owners who think little about their brake system maintenance until something goes wrong. The brakes are the single most important part of your car as far as safety is concerned and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Our brake pad reviews highlighted the best replacement brake pads currently on the market, while our detailed buying guide provided you with all the information you need to find the right ones for your car. 

As for us, we picked the Bosch QuietCast Premium Ceramic Disc Brake Pad Set as the best brake pads for daily driving and the Power Stop Brake Kit as the brake pads for towing and other heavy-duty applications. Both are great aftermarket products that will serve you well for years.