Akebono Brake Pads Reviews – New for 2021

Damaso
| Last Updated: February 15, 2021

If you are a DIY enthusiast, then it is probable you already know Akebono brake pads. Otherwise, let us explain. 

If you live in the United States and drive a vehicle from any of the following brands: Audi, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota, or Volkswagen then chances are your car is already using Akebono brake pads. Surprised? You should not be. Akebono is the leading supplier of OE ceramic brake pads in the US.

In this article though, we will focus our attention on reviewing Akebono's aftermarket brake pads, those that could instantly improve your stopping power and reduce brake noise levels significantly. 

Our Top Picks for Akebono Brake Pads

  • Outstanding stopping power
  • Minimal noise
  • Easy performance upgrade
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  • Designed for EU vehicles
  • Minimal dust
  • Long lifespan
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  • OEM supplier
  • Wide product range
  • Great all-around performance
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Comparison of the Best Akebono Brake Pads

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Stopping Power: Outstanding stopping power, even on otherwise stock brake systems
  • Noise: Minimal noise, especially in the performance category
  • Dust: Low to moderate dust, but light in color
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  • Stopping Power: Great stopping power taking advantage of european brake designs
  • Noise: No noise on most applications thanks to back plate and friction formula
  • Dust: Ceramic formula produces less dust, and with a lighter color
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  • Stopping Power: Strong stopping power as good as or better than OEM
  • Noise: Designed to be quite quiet with a focus on overall sound dampening
  • Dust: Low wear rate leads to low dust and the dust you do get is light
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Who is Akebono? 

Akebono (Akebono Brake Industry Co., Ltd) is a leading manufacturer of brake products for a wide variety of applications including automobiles, motorcycles, trains, and industrial machinery. 

With over 90 years of experience in the field of friction materials, Akebono was one of the first brands in popularizing the widespread usage of ceramic compounds as an alternative to metallic and semi-metallic materials. An effort that paid off since nowadays Akebono is the largest ceramic brake pad manufacturer in the world. 

Furthermore, Akebono's reputation as a company that favors safety and excellence on all its products earned the brand a spot in the McLaren Formula 1 team as the key supplier of its brake systems. 

Its commitment to safety also won Akebono the hearts of millions of customers around the world, including the USA, where Akebono is considered one of the most reliable brake pad brands.

Quick Take - Best Akebono Brake Pads

In summary, here are the best Akebono brake pads:

  1. Akebono Performance
  2. Akebono Euro
  3. Akebono Pro-ACT

Review of the Best Akebono Brakes

Are you prepared to learn more about Akebono? Excellent. In the next section, you will discover why this brand is so appreciated among enthusiasts and carmakers alike.

Akebono ASP914 Performance Ultra Premium Ceramic Disc Brake Pad Kit

PROS

  • Incredibly good noise abatement capabilities
  • Ultra-low dusting which translates into cleaner wheels
  • A great alternative to “severe duty” semi-metallic brake pads
  • Utmost stopping power even under the most extreme driving conditions
  • Specifically engineered for passenger cars, trucks, and SUVs in need of optimal pad bite under any driving situation

CONS

  • More expensive than any other Ultra-Premium Akebono pad
  • To get the most of them you might need premium/sport rotors as well

What Type of Brake Pad is This?

The Performance Ultra-Premium Ceramic Brake Pads are positioned as the most advanced Akebono pads you can possibly buy. They have it all. Low noise, little dust production, best in class stopping power, and on top of that, you can use them in extreme applications. These pads even come with premium stainless steel hardware to ensure optimal results right from the beginning. 

What Type of Driver are These Best For?

Akebono Performance Ultra-Premium Disc Brake Pads are specifically engineered for extreme applications including towing/hauling, fleets, spirited street driving, and law enforcement vehicles. This is possible thanks to Akebono’s proprietary mix of ceramic formulations that “emulate” semi-metallic properties while keeping all benefits from ceramic friction materials.

Should I Choose a Different Option in this List?

Despite its amazing ceramic formulation, Performance Ultra-Premium brake pads may not be the best option for your vehicle. One reason is its optimal operating temperature. Although these pads provide a predictable bite in either winter or summer, they are not the best option for extremely cold climates. As you might guess, another negative aspect is its price. The level of quality and endurance delivered by Akebono Performance Ultra-Premium pads is not cheap.

Bottom Line

The vast majority of brake pad manufacturers offer severe-duty brake pads based on semi-metallic materials. Usually, that implies that you have to settle with higher dust production and noise to enjoy its benefits. Not with Akebono. Although they are indeed somewhat expensive, such a price difference is fully justified for those drivers who seek the best of both worlds, the upscale comfort of ceramic pads, and the performance delivered by semi-metallic pads. 

Akebono EUR1018 Rear Brake Pad

PROS

  • Extremely low dust production helps keeping your wheels clean
  • Unsurpassed braking experience and pedal feel for European vehicles
  • Ultra-quiet to meet the most demanding expectations of European carmakers
  • They use Akebono’s exclusive formulation to ensure optional pad and rotor life 
  • Provide exceptional stopping power and reliability under normal driving conditions 

CONS

  • Only available for European passenger cars and SUVs
  • Not suitable for European supercars, high-performance, or extreme applications

What Type of Brake Pad is This?

Akebono EURO Ultra-Premium Ceramic brake pads are exclusively focused on providing European vehicles with a product that exceeds the high-quality levels of the original factory pads. Akebono can accomplish such a feat thanks to the use of its advanced manufacturing processes, exclusive ceramic formulations, and exceptional quality standards.

What Type of Driver are These Best For? 

Akebono's goal with its EURO Ultra-Premium line is clear. Offering an incredibly good alternative to the original brake pads whether they are ceramic or semi-metallic. In both cases, Akebono's extensive experience as an OE manufacturer enables it to guarantee a quieter brake pad with less dust production, which are precisely the main complaints among European car owners.

Should I Choose a Different Option in this List?

Certainly, Akebono offers one of the best brake pads for European cars. However, there are use cases where you may prefer other alternatives. For example, if you drive a European sports car you may require a more performance-oriented brake pad. The same goes true for compact and subcompact European vehicles. Akebono EURO Ultra-Premium is not precisely a budget-friendly line.

Bottom Line 

Objectively speaking, if you drive a European car there is no reason why you should hesitate in using Akebono EURO Ultra-Premium pads. They are formulated to outperform OE pads installed in passenger cars and SUVs from brands as varied as Audi, BMW, Fiat, Jaguar, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and more. Unless your application involves frequent towing/hauling or extremely aggressive driving Akebono EURO Ultra-Premium ceramic pads will certainly not disappoint.

Best for the Money:
Akebono ProAct Brake Pads

Akebono ACT905 Disc Brake Pad Kit

PROS

  • Lower than OE noise levels
  • Do not require a break-in period 
  • Excellent braking power on par with OE brake pads
  • Vehicle-specific ceramic formulas ensure optimal pedal feel and pad bite
  • Improved shim materials and positive mod design to guarantee unsurpassed noise and vibration levels

CONS

  • Not the best option for extreme applications
  • Depending on your vehicle they may not include the clip hardware

What Type of Brake Pad is This?

Without any doubt, Akebono ProACT Ultra-Premium Ceramic brake pads are aimed at vehicle owners looking for a reliable upgrade to their OE pads. Thanks to Akebono's optimized ceramic formulation ProACT Ultra-Premium brake pads can easily exceed such expectations. These pads are ultra-quiet, deliver a consistent pedal feel, have a high resistance to fade, and produce almost no dust. On top of that, Akebono ProACT Ultra-Premium pads do not require a break-in period. What else could you ask for?

What Type of Driver are These Best For? 

Akebono ProACT Ceramic brake pads are ideal for people looking for street-friendly pads offering little dust and low noise levels. Moreover, since these pads are optimized for each vehicle (yes, individual formulations for each application) they are a great alternative to semi-metallic pads. Overall, Akebono ProACT Ultra-Premium ceramic brake pads are definitely a great alternative as an OE replacement, regardless of the type of pad your vehicle has.

Should I Choose a Different Option in this List?

As you can tell, Akebono ProACT Ultra-Premium ceramic brake pads offer a marked improvement over original equipment pads. Nevertheless, they still share some limitations with OE parts. Most notably, these pads are not prepared to withstand sustained abuse. Akebono's amazing formulation gives them a fast recovery from brake fade, but that is not the same as offering adequate stopping power during extreme driving conditions. If you need that level of performance then Akebono's Performance Ultra-Premium Ceramic Brake Pads are a much better option.

Bottom Line

There are many reasons to choose Akebono ProACT Ultra-Premium Ceramic Brake pads. They deliver unrivaled stopping performance, low noise levels, and little dust production. Furthermore, their custom-tailored formulation and "no break-in period" offer incredible value to vehicle owners that seek a hassle-free brake pad set for everyday driving. However, if you enjoy pushing your brake system to the limit then it is better to opt for a specialized formulation such as the one offered by the Akebono Performance line.

What Else Does Akebono Make?

With over 90 years of experience, Akebono has become a leading global supplier of automotive brake solutions. Specifically in North America Akebono parts are installed in over 400 models making it one of the largest OE brake suppliers in the region. 

Being a company that has always focused on friction materials as well as noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) technology, it is not surprising that Akebono has multiple divisions to serve each business area.

Brakes for High-Performance Cars: Akebono’s experience in performance applications ranges from F1 cars to street performance vehicles. In that regard, the Japanese company is known for producing the finest 10-pot and 6-pot brake calipers for high-performance mass-production cars with enough power to reliably stop them from speeds up to 319 km/h (199 Mph)

Brakes for Automobiles: Aside from the amazing brake pads reviewed in this article, Akebono also is a renowned OE supplier of disc brake calipers, drum brakes, and key friction materials used in the industry.

Brakes for Commercial Vehicles: Akebono’s vast experience with friction materials enabled it to become a top manufacturer of specialized brake pads, brake linings, and calipers, and brake drums for commercial vehicles.

Brakes for Motorcycles: Regardless of the type of motorcycle or scooter, chances are that Akebono has a part number for it. From 2-pot and 1-pot calipers to master cylinders to brake pads, Akebono has been a key supplier of motorcycles brake systems since 1974.

Brakes for Rolling Stock: Since 1952 Akebono has been a key player in the development of rail vehicles in Japan. That explains its comprehensive line of products for trains including floating type disc brakes and opposed piston type disc brakes for bullet trains, disc brake linings for bullet trains, even-contact pressure disc brake linings for bullet trains, disc brake linings for conventional trains, and brake shoes for railroad trains

Brakes for Industrial Machinery: Akebono products for industrial machinery range from drum brakes for forklifts to brake shoes for elevators. 

Sensor Products: Akebono’s vast experience producing friction materials and brake solutions motivated the brand to develop a wide variety of vibration analysis technologies and equipment used for civil engineering, earthquake detectors, and more.

What Makes Akebono Brakes Stand Out From the Competition?

Two words make Akebono stand out from the rest of the competition. Security, and Excellence. 

Akebono has always been characterized by constantly improving its processes and thus offering the highest level of safety and excellence for all its products. In fact, Akebono's commitment to safety and efficiency is literally part of its corporate mission statement:

Through "Friction and Vibration, their Control and Analysis," we are determined to protect, grow and support every individual life

By defining its mission in terms of "protection of every individual life" Akebono reinforces its commitment to excellence, which is a concept even more powerful than quality since goes beyond complying with predefined standards. From the viewpoint of vehicle owners that level of commitment translates into peace of mind when using any Akebono product.

Akebono ProACT vs. Performance Brake Pads - Comparison Overview 

Even though both the Akebono ProACT Ceramic Brake pads and Akebono Performance Ceramic Brake pads belong to the same “Ultra-Premium” family, there are noticeable differences between them. But before we get to that, let's review its similarities first.

Akebono’s Definition of ULTRA-PREMIUM

Beyond looking to differentiate itself from other so-called "premium" brake pads, Akebono has really raised the bar with its Ultra-Premium line. They all share unique features that undoubtedly make them an excellent alternative to regular brake pads.

  1. Outstanding control of noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) which translates into an incredibly quiet and smooth braking experience

  2. Designed to produce minimal wear on brake disc rotors thus extending its lifespan

  3. Exclusive friction materials with ultra-low dust production for cleaner wheels

  4. Consistent pedal feel meaning more confidence to the driver

  5. Street-friendly performance out-of-the-box, no break-in required

In short, both brake pads can be considered as a good upgrade over factory-installed pads. Actually, that is the mission of the Akebono ProACT line, offering a better choice than OE pads. On the other hand, Akebono Performance brake pads aim much higher than that.

Meet Akebono Performance Brake Pads

As remarkable as Akebono ProAct pads are, they still suffer from a few limitations. You can think of Akebono Performance brake pads as an upgrade from the ProAct line, a line where such limitations have been addressed.

  1. Higher resistance to fade even under the most extreme braking applications

  2. Utmost stopping power in extreme driving conditions including towing/hauling, spirited street driving, law enforcement vehicles, and more 

  3. Ceramic material engineered for maximum friction at cold and high temperatures

Although another big difference between the two lines is the higher cost of Akebono Performance pads, this is offset by their ability to offer unmatched performance for those drivers who need to push their brakes to the limit.

Akebono EUR1018 Rear Brake Pad

Conclusion 

Throughout our review of Akebono brake pads, we have confirmed the key elements that have earned it its incredible reputation. Unlike other brands where you have to make a decision between braking power or comfort, Akebono has achieved the unthinkable. Brake pads that offer you all the advantages of the ceramic friction material (low noise, low dust, fast recovery) and almost none of its weaknesses. Overall, an excellent option independently of the type of vehicle you drive.

People Also Ask

Having doubts before deciding on a brand is understandable, especially when it has to do with a premium brand like Akebono. In the next section, we will answer the most common questions buyers ask before making a decision about Akebono.

Where Are Akebono Brake Pads Made?

Akebono brake pads are made in the United States. In fact, Akebono has a cutting-edge Engineering Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan, as well as two state-of-the-art facilities in Kentucky, one in Elizabethtown and the other in Glasgow. Additionally, Akebono also has a third plant in Mexico that also supplies the region.

Which Brake Rotors Does Akebono Recommend With Their Brake Pads?

Officially, Akebono does not recommend a specific rotor to be used with its brake pads. However, given the premium characteristics of Akebono products, we recommend using a high-quality coated brake disc. In that regard, vehicle owners in the United States, have reported excellent results when using brake disc rotors from Centric, Zimmermann, and Brembo 

Akebono PERFORMANCE Ultra-Premium Ceramic Pads (Source)

Does Akebono Make Brake Rotors?

Yes, it does. Akebono is a reliable supplier of brake rotors to many OE manufacturers around the world. To ensure the highest level of quality, Akebono develops all brake rotors in its own facilities around the world. In the case of the North American market, Akebono has the ability to manufacture top-quality disc brake rotors in any of its three state-of-the-art plants (Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Glasgow, Kentucky, and Mexico). However, due to its OE-specific design, these rotors are not available to the general public, only to carmakers.

What Does Akebono Mean?

The name Akebono is inspired by the word “dawn” in Japanese. Originally named Akebono Sekimen Kogyosho by its founder Mr. Sanji Osame in 1929, the renowned brake parts manufacturer which is nowadays known as Akebono (Akebono Corporation in North America)  owes its name to the admiration of Mr. Osame for the breaking dawn beauty of his hometown Mokakeson in Okayama Prefecture, Japan.

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Our Product Expert

Steve has been maintaining and modifying vehicles for over ten years. He grew up like most of us did: progressing from Hot Wheels & Legos to racing games like Gran Turismo, eventually taking everything apart just to see what made it tick. His career path was pretty clear early on!

Steve is currently a Certified Auto Repair Technician who graduated top of his class; he's rebuilt engines, transmissions, suspension, and everything in between. Steve also runs his own Youtube production covering hot automotive topics called Cars Simplified. He currently terrorizes the streets of New England in an iconic American classic: the Pontiac GTO.

Who Wrote This Article?

Damaso Sig

Our Automotive Journalist

Damaso has been in the automotive world since he was 14 years old and his father decided to bought an auto repair shop. Years later, his passion for electronics, computers, and automotive mechanics motivated him to graduate in Mechanical Engineering and venture into the sales of automotive equipment.

For years Damaso worked as a technical advisor assisting car dealerships, tire shops, and even the plants of Toyota and Mitsubishi that operate in his country. He has over 25 years of experience reporting on topics ranging from DIY jobs, technological analysis, automotive news, and more. He is a wealth of information and a valued member of our team.
@damasosanoja

Damaso

Damaso has been in the automotive world since he was 14 years old and his father decided to bought an auto repair shop. Years later, his passion for electronics, computers, and automotive mechanics motivated him to graduate in Mechanical Engineering and venture into the sales of automotive equipment. For years Damaso worked as a technical advisor assisting car dealerships, tire shops, and even the plants of Toyota and Mitsubishi that operate in his country. He has over 25 years of experience reporting on topics ranging from DIY jobs, technological analysis, automotive news, and more. He is a wealth of information and a valued member of our team.