Last Updated on April 20, 2020 by Tim
Buying car parts is often a matter of shopping around for the best deal. However, when it comes to parts your life depends upon, you can’t afford to go cheap. The best brake pad brands may be a bit pricier, but they’ve earned their spot due to the superior quality and reliability in emergency circumstances.
When picking out new brake pads, it’s best to go in with an idea of what to look for and what type of pad to get. In order to help with this quest, we’ve compiled this list of the top 10 brake pad manufacturers in the world, complete with some explanation as to why they’re so respected.
Akebono Brake Industry Co., Ltd. has a long history of excellence. Founded in 1929 and originally producing brake linings for the Japanese army. In 1958, they began to include brake shoes and linings for Kodama express trains.
Today, Akebono produces a wide range of brake products for everything from small cars to rolling stock, with the same commitment to safety and security across their entire line. Their pads are both asbestos and copper-free, and they also offer a full range of other brake parts.
A good example of their workmanship can be found in the ACT908 ProACT brake pads which are highly popular among Toyota Camry owners.
One of the oldest brake pad manufacturers, Wagner began its life back in 1891 as a simple electronics company that made fan motors. In 1909, they entered the infant automotive industry and actually designed a prototype electric car. This fascination with car electronics continued until 1946 when luxury giant Studebaker began to include Wagner self-adjusting brakes on their vehicles.
Wagner became a top innovator in brakes, with some of the first rubber compound brake materials and high boiling point brake fluids. They also released dual cylinder brake systems in 1966 based on a design they’d patented 40 years earlier.
Fast forwarding to today, Wagner’s OEx line boasts low copper, fast stopping performance that brings rave reviews from SUV and pickup truck owners. Many of their pads (for example, the ThermoQuiet QC1324, which fits the Lexus RX and many Toyota models) are designed to produce far less noise as well as safer dust.
3. Power Stop
One of the younger brake companies out there, Powerstop has only been serving the industry since 1995 and is based in the USA. During that time, they’ve made a significant impact, offering copper-free brake pads and entire brake systems.
To see the quality, you need look no further than the Z26 Street Warrior, a pad designed for street performance cars such as Corvettes that boasts little or no dust and far less noise than stock pads. We expect to see this company continue to shine as one of the best US-based brands out there for years to come.
If someone ever told you to get the Greenstuff for your Toyota, you might think they were having a little too much green stuff themselves. However, this is actually the name of a popular brake pad line by brake innovators EBC. Many of their products are color-coded (i.e. Greenstuff, Bluestuff, Redstuff, etc.) based upon their materials and functions.
The company has been pushing towards more organic materials and less dust production. Some lines, such as Greenstuff, are intentionally softer for superior urban functioning at minimal reduction to their lifespan. Other lines, such as Yellowstuff, uses a metal mix that fits commercial vehicles perfectly while Orangestuff is intended for trackday racing.
5. AC Delco
Having been partnered with General Motors since nearly their beginning, AC Delco has been a behind-the-scenes participant in some of the most memorable historical events of the 20th Century. Their spark plugs were present in the Spirit of St. Louis when it made its trans-Atlantic voyage.
They built many of the key components for the lunar rover used by the Apollo 15 crew. And now, in the 21st Century, they continue to stand at the forefront of innovation as one of the top GM companies in the world.
You’ll find AC Delco parts in most GM vehicles, and the brake pads in a large percentage. Some, such as the 17D1367CH, are an excellent addition to your Chevy Silverado or Suburban. They tend to be low dust, low (or no) noise, and pushing towards greater environmental friendliness.
As the name implies, StopTech has a reputation for excellence. They make some of the best brake pads for police cruisers, using special materials that can withstand high-speed chases. On the civilian front, they offer a variety of high performance pads for sport, street, and racing vehicles.
Each line has a prefix that allows you to identify the intended function at a glance (for example, the 309.10780 is identified as a sport pad by the 309 prefix). The sport pads are popular replacements for the Subaru WRX and Legacy GT, while their police line (prefix 307) can fit any police cruiser. Pick the line that best suits your vehicle’s primary activities and enjoy quieter, safer performance.
Bosch probably didn’t know what they were capable of when they filed their first brake patent in 1936. Today, that small company is estimated to have pads on 1/3 of all vehicles in North America. Looking at the BC905 QuietCast, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Bosch brake pads are converting to 100 percent copper free and have both low noise and a long lifespan.
It doesn’t matter if your car is a Nissan, Chevy, or Audi, Bosch has the perfect pad. The efficiency is even greater when pairing their pads to other Bosch brake parts.
Utah-based brake giants Hawk Performance have a hard-earned reputation for some of the best street performance brakes on the market. You’ll commonly find their pads on Infiniti, Mazda and similar street performance cars, but they’re also a staple also on the race track.
Pad models such as the HB370F.559 HPS offer good bite with less dust than some competitors but since they are performance pads, they might not be as quiet as your stock brake pads. But, a bit of extra noise is not necessarily a sign of bad brake pads. When you need a brake pad that gives you maximum performance power, Hawk Performance products should be at the top of your list.
If you own a Ford, chances are you have encountered Motorcraft pads. This brand is the standard used at all Ford service centers. You’ll find BRSD-1414 ceramic pads on F-150s, Lincolns, and a number of other popular vehicles.
Not much else has to be said about this company, except the fact that when you own a Ford, you should always consider OEM Motorcraft pads.
Despite making one hungry for fried chicken if the name’s said too fast, KFE is a brake manufacturing giant that the other companies on this list are watching closely. That’s because KFE strives for the most eco-friendly brake pads on the market and work hard to stay at the leading edge of innovation at all times.
A key example of KFE quality can be found on a wide range of Hondas. This particular pad, the Ultra Quiet Advanced KFE914-104, has greatly reduced noise and dust, superior stopping power, and functions well in both high-friction and low temperature scenarios. Picking a KFE product means peace of mind when driving on both highways and urban streets, be it a sunny Sunday or a gusty winter evening.