Best Car Brakes

To determine the best car brakes, we looked at a range of factors that included quantity, vehicle compatibility, premium features, and installation kits. Vehicle compatibility is going to be the most important aspect you need to consider since not all brake kits are universal. Vehicle owners should also consider that when replacing brakes, they should at least replace an axle simultaneously to maintain even wear. And if you routinely drive through challenging terrain, you may need to prioritize premium features such as drilled holes and slots to improve brake performance.

After considering all of the above, we selected the Bosch BC905 QuietCast Premium Ceramic Disc Brake Pads as our Top Pick. This affordable option offers a wide range of vehicle compatibility while creating a solid ceramic disc brake pad product that’s easy to install and powder coated to prevent rusting and corrosion. Keep reading to learn more about our other top picks.

Top 5 Best Car Brakes Reviews

 #1  Bosch BC905 QuietCast Premium Ceramic Disc Brake Pad – Top Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: An affordable yet effective ceramic disc brake pad that is compatible with a wide range of vehicles — including rear brakes — and features a powder-coated backplate to prevent rust and corrosion.

Pros
  • Best for Infiniti and Nissan
  • Most durable
  • Rear brakes available for select vehicles
Cons
  • Vehicle compatibility issues

There’s nothing more frustrating than realizing that the brake pads you want to buy aren’t compatible with the year, make and model of your car. Bosch’s BC905 QuietCast Premium Ceramic Disc Brake Pads are our Top Pick specifically because they’re designed to be compatible with a wide range of cars, SUVs, and trucks. Plus, they’re one of the more affordable options that make brake pad sets specifically for the rear axle.

These ceramic disc brake pads are designed from advanced aerospace alloy and include a copper-free ceramic that ensures quiet operation and low dust emissions. The rubber core helps to provide quiet operation and the powder-coated backplate helps to prevent rusting and corrosion. We like that these have an OE fit and that this kit comes with everything you need to quickly and easily install these brake pads on your car. It is as easy as installing the best car subwoofer.

 #2  Power Stop K1043 Front Brake Kit – Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: A performance front ceramic brake kit with specially engineered slots and drill holes to guarantee maximum cooling, and a power stop carbon-fiber pad to prevent brake dust.

Pros
  • Best for Acura or Honda
  • Slotted for enhanced performance
  • Long lasting carbon-fiber ceramic formula
Cons
  • Vehicle incompatibility

If you’re the type who drives in conditions that require constant braking, you know already that you need performance brakes that won’t give out with constant use. We’ve selected the Power Stop K1043 Front Brake Kit as our Honorable Mention because of this fact. This front brake kit features drilled and slotted brake rotors that guarantee faster cooling and improved performance.

The rubberized shims also help to ensure a quiet ride and noise-free braking. This kit comes with a stainless steel hardware kit and ceramic brake lubricant that’s easy to install. You’ll also like that the ceramic pads are made from Z23 carbon fiber for dust-free braking. However, do keep in mind that this is just a front axle kit although Power Stop does make rear axle and front & rear axle brake kits as well. Now that you have your brakes installed for safety, read about the best car alarm to keep your whole car safe.

 #3  Wagner QuickStop ZD866 Ceramic Disc Pad Set – Best Budget

WHY WE LIKE IT: A budget-friendly affordable complete front brake axle installation kit that features a wide range of vehicle compatibility with a solid reputation for performance.

Pros
  • Wide vehicle compatibility
  • Ceramic front-axle installation kit
  • Reduced vibration
Cons
  • May experience squealing

While your budget shouldn’t be the main decider when you’re shopping for new brake pads, the reality is that not everyone will be able to purchase performance level brake pads. The Wagner QuickStop ZD866 Ceramic Disc Pad Set is a great solution for the budget shopper who needs to replace their front brakes and doesn’t want to break the bank. These ceramic pads offer a wide range of vehicle compatibility.

You’ll like that this kit comes with stainless steel hardware and OE-style lubricant. You’ll like that these brake pads are designed to reduce vibration while providing consistent braking performance throughout their lifespan. The best car jack makes it easy to install new brakes.

 #4  Power Stop K2316 Front Brake Kit – Best for Performance

WHY WE LIKE IT: A powerful set of brakes that are designed with performance in mind with Toyotas and Pontiacs thanks to rubberized shims, slotted and drilled brake rotors and less dust output.

Pros
  • Best Brake Pads
  • Best for Toyota or Pontiac
  • Slotted/drilled brake rotors
Cons
  • Expensive

Performance car owners or serious road warriors know that they need the right brakes that can stand up to the punishment they can dish out. The Power Stop K2316 Front Brake Kit is ideal for intensive use, especially because the drilled holes and slots help to quickly cool the rotors and improve overall performance.

We also like that these brakes create less dust than the competition. And the carbon fiber ceramic compound on the brake pads helps to also improve performance in the long run. And as with the other Power Stop brakes, you’ll like that the shims are rubberized to further help reduce noise for silent braking performance. Speaking of rubberized, the best truck floor mats will help keep your vehicle clean.

 #5  Power Stop K6083 Front & Rear Brake Kit – Best Quality

WHY WE LIKE IT: A comprehensive performance front and rear brake installation kit that features drilled and slotted rotors for faster cooling and rubberized shims for quiet braking.

Pros
  • Best for Subarus
  • Quietest brake pads
  • Drilled & slotted for improved performance
Cons
  • Expensive

Road warriors know that they can’t cut corners on their automotive maintenance. If you’re constantly running the road — especially in hilly conditions — then you need high-quality brakes that are guaranteed to help your car slow or stop without issues. Much like the Honorable Mention (also from the Power Stop brand), these high-performance brakes are perfect for heavier driving use.

You’ll get a complete front and back brake installation kit that features slots and holes to improve cooling. The ceramic disc brakes are made from Z23 carbon fiber for dust-free performance. And you’ll also like the rubberized shims for quieter operation. While this is a more expensive option, it’s a must-have if you’re a heavy driver — especially in rougher road conditions. And if you are a heavy driver, the best radar detector will be a must-have accessory for your car as well.

How We Decided

Most people don’t think about their car brakes until they hear them, and by then it’s long since been time to change your brakes. There are many factors to consider when shopping for brakes — quantity, vehicle compatibility, premium features, and installation kits.

When replacing brakes, you need to consider how many brakes need to be replaced. Even if only one axle needs to be replaced, it’s a good idea to change both rotors on an axle to ensure even wear. Because of this, you’ll note that none of the recommendations are single brake pads. Except for our #5 Best Quality selection, the other recommendations are all front brake installation kits. Our Best Quality pick is the only comprehensive brake kit with front and rear brake disc pads.

You’ll also note that all of the brake kits in our guide are ceramic brake pads. Ceramic brake pads are the preferred option as they offer solid performance and tend to last longer than other options like organic brake pads. But you’ll note that our Honorable Mention and Best Quality are performance brakes with rotors that feature slots and drilled holes to aid in quickly cooling the components. While these features are more expensive, they’re an ideal choice if you drive through more challenging terrain and rely on your brakes more than a typical driver. That in mind, Ceramics also give off less or no brake dust as an added perk.

And finally, always confirm vehicle compatibility before purchasing a brake installation kit. While we can’t guarantee that every brake kit we featured is going to work with your car, the options we’ve featured tend to have the widest compatibility. However, you will still need to double-check the year, make, and model of your car against each brand’s compatibility list for an individual brake product before making your purchase.

Car Brakes Buying Guide

 

The Most Important Features to Consider

  1. Brake Style
    Typically, brakes are available in two styles — drum and disk. Drum brakes are an older brake style that is cheaper to purchase but tends to be less powerful. They tend not to be the industry standard as disc brakes are the preferred option for most modern vehicles. Disc brakes are more powerful and are also able to cool off faster than drum brakes.
  2. Pad Material
    Considering how important brake pads are to the overall safety of your car, this is one product where you should prioritize quality and durability over price. Car brake pads are made from a range of materials such as semi-metallic, low metallic, organic, and ceramic. For the average driver, ceramic brake pads are usually going to be your best bet. However, performance cars and more specialized vehicles may benefit from the other car brake pad styles.
  3. Quantity
    Do you need to replace all of the brakes on your car, the front or back wheels, or on just one wheel? As you shop for car brake pads, you’ll find that you can buy them in pairs, complete sets, or as individual rotors. While complete kits are more expensive, it can be worth replacing all of the brakes rather than waiting to replace each one individually. Most automotive experts recommend at least swapping out axel pairs at the same time to prevent uneven wear.
  4. Corrosion Protection
    Car brakes are exposed to a range of substances that can prematurely degrade them. Oils, water, salt, and a myriad of other substances can substantially reduce your brakes’ lifespan. But an anti-corrosion layer like a silver zinc coating can help prevent rust and corrosion.
  5. Holes and Slots
    While you don’t necessarily need drilled holes or slots in your brake pads, they can be a nice add-on that improves brake performance depending on your driving conditions. Specifically, if you’re driving in an area that requires frequent braking, drilled holes can help the brake pads cool down faster. And slots improve the contact between the brake pads and your rotor to increase stopping power.
  6. Compatibility
    When you go to an automotive parts store, it’s easy to ask an associate for help to find the right car brake pads designed to work with the year, make, or model of your car. But when shopping online, it’s easy to accidentally overlook this information and buy a pair of brake pads that are incompatible. Most online sources allow you to filter by year, make, and model to avoid accidentally buying brake pads that aren’t compatible.

Car Brakes FAQs

How frequently do car brake pads need to be replaced?

Of course, how frequently you need to replace your brake pads is going to depend on your driving. But in general, you should expect to replace your brakes every 30,000 to 70,000 miles. Regardless of what your odometer is saying when you hear that iconic squeaky sound, that means you have a metal on metal friction happening and it’s time to replace your brakes.

Are the best car brake pads OEM or aftermarket brands?

You might be surprised to find that aftermarket brake pads can be just as effective if not preferable to OEM options. Specifically, many automakers use organic brake pads which are known to be the lowest-performing options. In contrast, aftermarket brake pads come in a variety of materials — including ceramic brake pads that are known to be better for long term use.

What’s the best way to maintain my car brakes?

Maintaining your car brakes is easier than you might think. From time to time, check your brake fluid and as needed, change it. When it starts to look milky it means that water has gotten into the system and it needs to be drained and replaced. And of course, check your brake pads and rotors for signs of wear and tear.

Any tips for buying car brake pads online?

Always confirm that the brakes you plan to buy are intended for use with the year, make and model of your car. Also, check for return and warranty details in case the brakes you buy are incompatible with your vehicle.

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Dorian Smith-Garcia

Dorian Smith-Garcia is a bridal and beauty expert/influencer and the creative director behind The Anti Bridezilla. She is a diverse writer across beauty, fashion, travel, consumer goods, and tech. She also writes for Inverse, Glowsly, and The Drive along with a variety of other publications. When Dorian's not writing she's collecting stamps in her passport, learning new languages, or spending time with her husband and daughter.

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