Duralast Brake Pads Review: 2021 Update

Damaso
| Last Updated: January 21, 2021

Sometimes it is hard to believe that low-priced brake pads can be any good. Such disbelief is totally understandable since brake pads play a key role in your safety while driving. 

In this article, we will check if that claim holds true by conducting a thorough review of Duralast, one of the most popular brands in the category of relatively inexpensive brake pads.

Our Top Picks for Duralast Brake Pads

  • 3 layer anti-noise shim
  • Powder-coated backing
  • OE fit, form, & function
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  • 2 layer anti-noise shim
  • Powder-coated backing
  • Minimal compromise on a budget
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  • 4 layer anti-noise shim
  • Corrosion-resistant backing
  • Great stopping power
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Comparison of the Best Duralast Brake Pads

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Stopping power: Similar or better than OE
  • Noise resistance: Great noise resistance with 3-layer noise-blocking shim
  • Dust: Same or less than OE, particularly with ceramic versions
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  • Stopping power: Similar to OE in normal driving conditions
  • Noise resistance: Good noise resistance with double layer noise-blocking shim
  • Dust: Moderately low dust
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  • Stopping power: High performance stopping power, even improving Euro models
  • Noise resistance: Fantastic noise resistance with 4-layer noise-blocking shim
  • Dust: Low dust
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  • Stopping power: Superb stopping power with reliable next gen friction
  • Noise resistance: Silent in almost all models and stopping conditions
  • Dust: Duralast's lowest-dust formula with eco-friendly low-dust formula
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  • Stopping power: Very strong stopping power, even in tough conditions
  • Noise resistance: Moderate noise as a performance trade-off
  • Dust: Moderate dust as a performance trade-off
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Who is Duralast?

Duralast is a brand created by AutoZone in 1986 to meet or exceed the quality, performance, and durability of OE parts. Such commitment to excellence, as well as the competitive pricing, has earned Duralast a place as one of the leading aftermarket brands in the US.

In the particular case of Duralast's brake lineup, the brand has honored its principles by providing aggressively priced brake pads for different needs, ranging from budget-oriented to performance-oriented applications

Quick Take - Best Duralast Brake Pads

In summary, here are the best Duralast brake pads

  1. Duralast Gold Brake Pads
  2. Duralast Brake Pads
  3. Duralast Max Brake Pads

Review of the Best Duralast Brake Pads

Duralast is one of the few brands that offer a complete catalog of products that includes brake pads made with various formulations, each focused on meeting a specific market requirement.

PROS

  • Factory-like 3-layer shims to minimize vibrations and noise
  • Available in ceramic or semi-metallic compound formulations
  • OE-like formulations to restore “like-new” braking experience
  • Features powder-coated treatment in the backing plate to prevent premature corrosion
  • Application-specific shape and stainless steel hardware to ensure an easy fitment to your vehicle

CONS

  • May squeal during their initial break-in period
  • Not recommended for applications requiring heavy braking 

What Type of Brake Pad is This? 

The Duralast GOLD line comprises two different types of friction materials, ceramic and semi-metallic. Since this line is intended to serve as a direct replacement to original pads, the type of material matches the one used in your factory pads. Moreover, Duralast GOLD brake pads also use OE-style slots, shims, and hardware to further emulate the OE pad’s experience.

What Type of Driving are These Best For? 

Given the emphasis Duralast has placed on delivering a braking experience comparable to OE pads, this line is ideal for people looking for similar stopping power, dust production, noise, and vibration than original equipment brake pads, but at a lower price.

Should I Choose a Different Option in this List? 

While the concept of the Duralast GOLD line is good, it is not without its drawbacks. It is a common criticism among users that these pads squeak during break-in. Moreover, some full-size SUV and truck owners claim that these pads actually perform somewhat worse than the original pads, which make us doubt about their ability to deliver appropriate stopping power to heavy vehicles.

Bottom Line

If what you need is an affordable set of brake pads with similar characteristics to the original equipment, then the Duralast GOLD line is an option to consider. However, if your application involves heavy vehicles or constant use of the brakes, it is best to opt for the other Duralast alternatives.

PROS

  • Powder-coated backing plate to reduce rust
  • They come in ceramic and semi-metallic variants
  • Employs 2-layer shims to keep noise under control
  • Offers a low-priced alternative to the Duralast GOLD line
  • Manufactured using OE direct molding pressing process to ensure proper fitment

CONS

  • Some were disappointed with the stopping power
  • Does not include the necessary hardware as the Duralast GOLD line does

What Type of Brake Pad is This? 

Similar to the Duralast GOLD line, depending on the make, model, and year of your vehicle, these brake pads could come in ceramic or semi-metallic versions. Also similar to GOLD brake pads, this line was created using OE-type manufacturing processes to ensure hassle-free installation when servicing brakes.

What Type of Driving are These Best For? 

This line of brake pads is meant for people who require an inexpensive alternative to the original brake pads. As such, they do not provide noteworthy advantages over factory pads, on the contrary, it is advisable to take into account that these pads are designed for normal usage.

Should I Choose a Different Option in this List? 

If your application involves continuous use of the brakes, towing loads,  or passenger transport, or if your expectations include low dust production, long service life, and above-average stopping power, then our recommendation is choosing a different Duralast line. This particular type of pads is only suitable for light-duty applications and casual driving.

Bottom Line

One of the competitive advantages of Duralast products is that they offer different lines focused on meeting specific needs. This particular line is aimed at people whose main priority is buying reasonably good brake pads at the lowest price possible. In that regard, Duralast brake pads are unquestionably second to none.

Best for the Money:
Duralast Max Brake Pads

PROS

  • Premium brake pads, available in ceramic, metallic, and semi-metallic versions
  • Designed to deliver lower dust production and better performance than OE pads
  • Manufactured using exclusive 4-layer shims to provide quieter stops than original pads
  • Includes stainless steel hardware, organic lubricant, and custom backing plate coating for maximum rust protection
  • Features the highest friction designator rating, FF, meaning unsurpassed low-temperature and high-temperature performance

CONS

  • Not available for all makes and models 
  • More expensive than Duralast GOLD brake pads

What Type of Brake Pad is This? 

The Duralast MAX line of brake pads offers a wide variety of friction materials including ceramic, metallic, and semi-metallic compounds. However, unlike previous lines, you have the option to choose between these materials. Moreover, depending on your vehicle, you can even find metallic brake pads specifically designed for severe duty applications.

What Type of Driving are These Best For? 

Duralast MAX pads are designed from the ground up to outperform OE brake pads in every aspect possible. In other words, Duralast MAX pads are ideal for daily driver, mild-performance, and even heavy-duty or towing applications. You can think of these brake pads as a major upgrade over Duralast GOLD pads since they deliver a better bite, lower dust production, and smoother operation under a wider range of driving conditions.

Should I Choose a Different Option in this List? 

Unsurprisingly, the benefits of Duralast MAX brake pads increase their cost. While it is true that their price is still lower than the original pads, it is also true that, when compared to the GOLD line, the price of Duralast MAX brake pads can be considerably higher. So, if are on a budget, then you better pick Duralast GOLD or Duralast brake pad lines instead.

Bottom Line

The Duralast MAX line of brake pads gives you great flexibility, as it has different material options, each one with its own advantages. You can choose between the upscale braking experience, quiet operation, and minimal dust production delivered by ceramic, the unmatched performance of semi-metallic compounds, or the heavy-duty construction and reliability of metallic brake pads. However, keep in mind that these are not the cheapest brake pads in the Duralast catalog.

PROS

  • Premium brake pads, featuring copper-free ceramic friction material
  • Designed to deliver better stopping power than similar OE ceramic pads
  • Manufactured using multi-layer shims to provide quieter stops than original pads
  • Unparalleled braking experience and smooth operation under most common driving conditions 
  • Includes stainless steel hardware, organic lubricant, and custom backing plate coating for maximum rust protection

CONS

  • Limited availability
  • Expensive. Duralast Elite brake pads are considered one of the most expensive lines within Duralast brake products

What Type of Brake Pad is This? 

Duralast Elite brake pads use an exclusive copper-free formulation, which enables them to deliver an enhanced driving experience. Such enhancements include almost no dust production, ultra-quiet operation, and a consistent pad bite across a wide range of driving conditions.

What Type of Driving are These Best For? 

Hands down, Duralast Elite brake pads are your best choice if what you need is a pedal feel on par with luxurious sedans. These pads offer unsurpassed riding quality for city driving or commuting from home to work. Duralast Elite pads are probably not the best option for anything outside of that, but at least for those use cases, they are unrivaled.

Should I Choose a Different Option in this List? 

Like any other ceramic pad, Duralast Elite has some limitations. They perform exceptionally well (better than OE) when used in normal driving conditions. However, they are not advised for hauling/towing heavy loads, high-performance vehicles, or extremely cold climates. 

Bottom Line

In contrast to Duralast GOLD or Duralast MAX brake pads, the Duralast Elite line clearly points to a more exclusive niche. Luxury passenger cars and SUVs requiring top-notch brake pads. That partially explains its higher price and limited availability since these pads are not meant for multi-purpose pickup trucks or high-performance cars.

PROS

  • Nitrile weave shim technology tor reduced noise levels
  • V-slot design for better performance and longer lifespan
  • Unsurpassed stopping power thanks to its carbon fiber friction material
  • Formulation mostly based on Duralast experience as NASCAR official sponsor and supplier
  • Specifically designed for ultra-high performance cars and SUVs, extreme off-roading, or severe braking applications

CONS

  • Not recommended for everyday use
  • Only available for a select group of vehicles

What Type of Brake Pad is This? 

Duralast GT Street Carbon Fiber brake pads are actually made from a special carbon-ceramic friction material that is corrosion-free, produces less dust, lasts longer, and performs way better than conventional ceramic pads in wet and cold conditions. All these improvements are possible thanks to the incorporation of carbon fiber in the formulation, an extremely light material that also has excellent thermal dissipation qualities.

What Type of Driving are These Best For? 

Given that Duralast GT brake pads are inspired on Duralast’s NASCAR experience, they are designed to provide a much more efficient thermal dissipation and stopping power to drivers, whilst still providing an adequate level of comfort during normal driving conditions. As you might expect, these pads are ideal for extreme applications such as spirited highway runs, serious off-roading, or racing.

Should I Choose a Different Option in this List? 

Its relatively high price and limited availability make the Duralast GT pads a niche product. This is definitely not the brake pad we recommend for everyday use, neither for people who prefer the unmatched pedal feel and smooth braking performance of conventional ceramic pads. 

Bottom Line

Needless to say that Duralast GT Street Carbon Fiber brake pads are great for performance-oriented cars. If you are the proud owner of a powerful Mustang or Camaro then these pads will not disappoint, they will certainly decrease the stopping distance of your car. On the other hand, if you drive a luxury sedan or even a more mundane multi-purpose SUV or truck, then we strongly suggest you opting for Duralast Elite or Duralast MAX brake pads.

What’s the Full Lineup of Duralast Brake Pads?

AutoZone has created five lines of Duralast brake pads to meet the different types of requirements in today's market.

Duralast GOLD Ceramic and Semi-Metallic Brake Pads

Duralast created its GOLD line with the intention to offer a direct fit to OE ceramic and semi-metallic brake pads installed on passenger cars, SUVs, and trucks. They feature OE-style 3-layer shims to minimize vibrations and noise.

Duralast Ceramic and Semi-Metallic Brake Pads

This line is targeted at car owners looking for a reasonably priced alternative to Duralast GOLD ceramic and semi-metallic brake pads. They offer performance close to OE pads along with a 2-layer shim to keep noise levels as low as possible.

Duralast Elite Copper-Free Brake Pads

As its name implies, Duralast Elite is a premium product line focused on delivering unmatched performance, low noise levels, and minimum dust thanks to its fully ceramic, copper-free formulation. 

Duralast MAX Ceramic, Metallic, and Semi-Metallic Brake Pads

The Duralast MAX line offers premium ceramic, metallic, and semi-metallic brake pad formulations to meet a wide variety of needs such as daily driven cars, luxury vehicles, and medium to heavy towing/hauling applications. Aside from its superior quality, these pads also feature anti-rust coated backing plate and Duralast’s innovative 4-layer shims to ensure minimum noise and vibration levels.

Duralast GT Street Carbon Fiber Brake Pads

This line was specifically created for people needing extraordinary stopping power and minimal brake fade regardless of rotor temperature. Typical applications include street and track racing, police pursuit vehicles, and other extreme applications.

What Makes Duralast Brake Pads Stand Out From the Competition? 

If we had to sum up in one phrase that makes Duralast brake pads stand out from the competition that phrase would be "their commitment to excellence." 

Most of the brands in the market design their products based on both laboratory tests and field tests using production vehicles. In its quest for excellence, AutoZone has gone one step further, developing Duralast brake pads specifications from its experience as a NASCAR sponsor. The invaluable experience gained on the track has allowed the brand to continually improve the entire line of Duralast brake pads so that they deliver optimum performance in all types of driving conditions.

Brakebest vs. Duralast - Comparison Overview

As is often the case with many other automotive parts, the decision between installing one brand or the other will depend on the type of application and budget.

In general, both Brakebest and Duralast have good reviews from car owners that mostly use their cars for commuting from home to work. What this means is that economic Duralast and Brakebest lines offer similar quality.

However, differences start showing up as you scale in the price range. Duralast MAX products have a slight advantage over Brakebest Select brake pads since they provide better noise and vibration insulation thanks to its integrated multi-layered shim design. On the other hand, when it comes to severe usage applications, Duralast GT brake pads clearly outshine their Brakebest counterparts.

In terms of the warranty, while both brands provide a lifetime warranty, AutoZone's "no questions asked" policy seems to please more the customers than O'Reillys more conventional approach regarding customer service.

Conclusion

What we have discovered through this review is that Duralast's premium brake pads, such as the Duralast Elite, Duralast MAX, and Duralast GT, deliver a level of performance and quality on par with OE pads. Actually, they outperform OE pads in certain applications involving luxury and severe braking usage. Summing up, if you are hard on brakes and look for an affordable alternative to original equipment pads, Duralast top-tier lines will no disappoint.

People Also Ask

This section attempts to answer the most common questions concerning Duralast brake pads and rotors.

Where Are Duralast Brake Rotors Made?

It is not uncommon to find a veil of mystery when it comes to figuring out where are made the parts sold by huge auto parts retailers like AutoZone. That is the case of Duralast brake rotors. Truth is, AutoZone subcontracts third-party companies to make their brake pads. Over time, this supplier has changed multiple times, which explains how you can find Duralast brake rotors built in different countries like Mexico, the United States, and Taiwan.

Who Makes Duralast Brake Pads?

As in the case of brake rotors, the production of Duralast brake pads is outsourced to third parties. However, many believe that it is BOSCH who produces Duralast premium lines (Elite, MAX, and GT) following AutoZone's requirements and specifications.

What is the Duralast Brake Pads Warranty?

Duralast brake pads come with a Limited Lifetime warranty, which in the case of AutoZone, essentially means the warranty lasts the duration of your ownership of the vehicle. In practice, you can opt for a replacement or full refund if your brake pads fail as long as they have not infringed AutoZone's warranty exclusions. Some of these warranty exclusions include damage from abuse, misuse, improper installation, other defective parts, off-road, or marine usage.

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.