Best Brake Pads – 2021 Reviews of Bosch, EBC…

Choosing the best brake pads for your vehicle is an important decision as your safety could be at stake if you install poor quality parts. However, even if you could buy the most expensive brake pads, that does not guarantee they would be the best option for your specific application and therefore you could still take unnecessary risks. In other words, making the right decision can be a daunting task.

That was our motivation for writing this guide. Provide you with a compilation of all the information you need to know to make the right decision.

For your convenience, our team of experts has also put together a selection of the best brake pads for different types of applications. That way, you will have a good starting point in finding the ideal brake pad for your vehicle.

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Comparison of the Best Brake Pads

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When to Replace Brake Pads

Modern brake pads last on average 35,000 miles. However, depending on the brake pads’ brand, friction material, and vehicle usage, they could last much longer.

One way to know if your brake pads need to be replaced is to watch for the following signs.

  • Squealing noises, especially when applying the brake pedal

  • The brake pad indicator light is on

  • The thickness of the brake pad is below 4 millimeters

Ignoring these signs could put your safety as well as those of other passengers at risk. Brake pads are subject to wear and tear during normal use, so they are designed to last a reasonable amount of time before requiring replacement. Driving with thin brake pads can cause problems with both the brake caliper piston and the rotors. Moreover, driving in such conditions could cause a serious accident.

Types of Brake Pads

Throughout this guide we are going to talk about different types of brake pads, among which are:

Organic / NAO (Non-Asbestos Organic)

Given their low cost, little wear on the rotor, their adequate coefficient of friction for normal use, and their relatively low dust levels, these pads are still one of the most popular types used in modern vehicles.

Metallic / Semi-Metallic 

Metallic and semi-metallic brake pads offer a coefficient of friction well above average. Additionally, their metallic friction compound helps to dissipate heat quickly which is why they are the preferred type of pads for both, heavy-duty and high-performance applications. However, compared to organic or ceramic brake pads, these pads produce a lot more dust, are considerably louder, and wear rotors much more easily.


Ceramic brake pads have become very popular for good reason. They offer a balance between the advantages of organic and metallic brake pads. On the one hand, their noise levels and dust production are incredibly low, which makes them ideal for luxury vehicles or applications where ride comfort is a priority. Second, ceramic brake pads are easy on brake rotors

Finally, this type of pad offers a level of performance suitable for daily use and even occasional spirited driving. Unfortunately, the price of ceramic pads is quite high when compared to organic or metallic pads.

Review of the Best Brake Pads

Ready to explore the best brake pads on the market? In this section, we have grouped what in our opinion are the best options for each type of application.

Best Ceramic Brake Pads:EBC Redstuff Ceramic Brake Pads

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  • Very low dust production
  • Low noise levels for a performance brake pad
  • Up to 25% more stopping power than OE pads
  • Made with EBC’s exclusive aramid fiber friction material
  • Ideal for street performance and occasional track usage


  • Somewhat expensive
  • Not available for SUVs or trucks

What Type of Brake Pad is This? 

Redstuff brake pads are a sports car owner’s dream. Within the EBC product line, the Redstuff ceramic brake pads are considered the highest performing for street use. No wonder. These pads combine the best from EBC in one product. Hands down, Redstuff pads are top-tier in every aspect.

What Type of Driving Are These Best For? 

EBC’s Redstuff brake pads are one of the best street performance pads currently available on the market. That makes these pads a solid choice for people that love spirited driving or even for people looking for a good set of pads for occasional racing. From its cutting-edge construction to its exclusive aramid friction material, Redstuff pads are 100% prepared to withstand the most aggressive driving style without a hitch.

Should I Choose a Different Option in This List? 

Despite its impressive bite and incredible heat resistance, EBC’s Redstuff is not the best option for all use cases. For instance, most daily driving vehicles don’t need such a high-performing brake pad. It just doesn’t make sense to pay the high price of Redstuff pads when there are excellent alternatives for everyday driving like the Duralast Gold or Wagner TQ pads at a fraction of the cost.

Bottom Line

Redstuff brake pads are hands down one of the best ceramic brake pads money can buy. Their formulation and extreme quality make them ideal for all types of passenger vehicles, whether it be a luxury or sports car. However, if you are looking for a brake pad suitable for heavy-duty or everyday use then you may want to check out our reviews of the Akebono, Wagner, and Duralast pads.

Best Brake Pads for Towing:Bosch SevereDuty Disc Brake Pad

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  • Premium quality at a reasonable price
  • Perfect fit thanks to Bosch cutting-edge manufacturing process
  • Includes synthetic brake pad grease as well as the necessary hardware
  • Impressive resistance to brake fade even at extremely high temperatures
  • Special semi-metallic friction material created specifically for severe duty applications


  • Reduce rotor lifespan
  • Generate more dust than ceramic brake pads

What Type of Brake Pad is This? 

Bosch SevereDuty brake pads belong to the semi-metallic category. However, unlike most pads within this category, Bosch has used its experience and technology to improve its properties, especially in applications that require constant braking. So, it would be more adequate to classify these pads into the heavy-duty / extreme-duty category.

What Type of Driving Are These Best For? 

The friction material of the Bosch SevereDuty brake pads was created with a clear goal in mind. Offer the ultimate stopping power to passenger cars, trucks, and SUVs subject to extreme braking conditions. Typical use cases include constant stop-and-go situations, law enforcement vehicles, or vehicles that constantly haul/tow heavy loads.

Should I Choose a Different Option in This List? 

When Bosch designed the SevereDuty brake pads their priority was to achieve consistent braking quality regardless of brakes’ temperature. For this reason, other factors such as the generation of dust, noise, or rotor wear were not so important. In other words, using these pads on a daily driving vehicle can be highly counterproductive. Not only are you going to decrease the life of your rotors but you are going to notice a decline in ride quality, at least from a noise and dust perspective.

Bottom Line

If what you are looking for is the best heavy-duty brake pads then look no further. The Bosch SevereDuty pads won’t let you down. Its advanced formulation will give your car or truck the ability to face the most extreme braking conditions without problems. However, if your priority is a quiet ride and low dust production then it is better to use another type of pad such as the Centric Posi-Quiet ceramic brake pads.

Best Centric Brake Pads:Centric Posi-Quiet Ceramic Brake Pads

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  • Ultra-low noise levels
  • Near zero brake dust production
  • Long-lasting ceramic formulation
  • Very light on brake rotors thus increasing its service life
  • Excellent pad bite under most common driving conditions


  • Not suitable for severe braking applications
  • Premium price when compared to other Centric brake pads

What Type of Brake Pad is This? 

Centric Posi-Quiet Ceramic Brake Pads are a high-end product. Not only do they offer one of the quietest driving experiences, but their ceramic material also allows for minimal dust production. All of this is possible thanks to the state-of-the-art manufacturing process used by Centric which makes these brake pads an excellent choice for luxury vehicles.

What Type of Driving Are These Best For? 

Generally speaking, these brake pads are designed to offer an unmatched braking experience under normal driving conditions. Regardless of the vehicle type, Posi-Quiet brake pads deliver above-average stopping power and a reliable bite at any speed. In our opinion, this is one of the most reliable ceramic pads that you can install in your vehicle. However, if your driving style tends to be aggressive, then you may need to consider other alternatives.

Should I Choose a Different Option in This List? 

The upscale driving experience offered by Centric Posi-Quiet pads is more than adequate for most drivers. Nevertheless, its ceramic composition poses some limitations to performance-oriented applications. First of all, its friction coefficient would not be enough to handle constant braking at high speeds

In other words, if what you need is a set of brake pads for high-performance applications then a better option would be EBC’s Redstuff.

Bottom Line

Posi-Quiet brake pads are without a doubt a good choice if what you are looking for is an upscale braking experience. Its low dust generation will keep your wheels clean for much longer and its low noise levels will make your ride completely silent. These benefits will undoubtedly be enough to convince people who seek maximum comfort, however, if what you require is brake pads for extreme applications then your best alternative is opting for EBC Redstuff or Akebono Performance brake pads.

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Best Akebono Brake Pads:Akebono Performance Brake Pads

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  • Little dust production
  • Amazing noise abatement capabilities
  • Quick stops even during spirited driving
  • Excellent recovery after a complete stop
  • Smooth and predictable pedal feel under any driving condition


  • Pricier than most pads in this list
  • Not the best option for daily driving vehicles

What Type of Brake Pad is This? 

The best way to describe Akebono Performance Ultra-Premium ceramic brake pads is to say that they are a direct competitor to Bosch SevereDuty pads. Both deliver superior stopping power under the most extreme braking conditions, both are prepared to withstand high temperatures, and both are somewhat expensive. 

However, despite their similarities, Akebono has managed to outperform Bosch in one key respect. Akebono brake pads use a ceramic compound, whereas Bosch pads use a semi-metallic material. This gives Akebono a lead in several areas, most notably, dust production and noise levels.

What Type of Driving Are These Best For? 

Akebono Performance brake pads are ideal for applications requiring dependable braking even under the most extreme conditions. From spirited street driving to trucks requiring towing/hauling heavy loads, Akebono pads deliver a reliable fade-free stop. 

Moreover, given its ceramic friction material, Akebono performance brake pads also offer exceptional longevity, little dust production, and low noise levels. All in all, performance and convenience in a single package.

Should I Choose a Different Option in This List? 

Although on paper the Akebono pads seem to be the ideal option for all types of applications, in reality, they are a product aimed at a specific market that is vehicles with very demanding braking requirements. This is reflected in its high price. Fortunately, for 80% of cars that only require quality ceramic brake pads for daily use, there are cheaper alternatives such as Duralast Gold or Wagner Thermoquiet brake pads.

Bottom Line

Akebono Performance brake pads certainly live up to their name and offer incredible stopping power even in extreme conditions. If what you need is a set of high-quality pads capable of withstanding the most punishing treatment then Akebono will not disappoint.

On the other hand, if your requirements are more modest and you are only looking for reliable ceramic pads for your car then you have other options available at your fingertips such as the Wagner pads reviewed in the next section.

Best Wagner Brake Pads:Wagner Thermoquiet QC Ceramic Brake Pads

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  • Low dust production
  • Great value for a premium ceramic pad
  • Silent operation under normal driving conditions
  • Long-lasting formulation ideal for daily driving vehicles
  • One-piece design that integrates ceramic friction material, backing plate, and insulator to reduce noise and vibration levels to a minimum


  • Not suitable for applications involving heavy braking
  • Might not be the best option for extremely cold climates

What Type of Brake Pad is This? 

Wagner TQ brake pads fall into the category of “premium ceramic pads for everyday use”. It’s important to keep that in mind, as these pads are designed to be a direct replacement for OE parts, not a specialty product like Bosh SevereDuty or EBC Redstuff brake pads. In simple terms, this is the kind of brake pads most people will ever need under normal driving conditions.

What Type of Driving Are These Best For? 

Wagner ThermoQuiet brake pads are specifically designed for daily driving vehicles. They offer predictable braking under normal driving conditions, excellent durability, low dust production, and very low noise levels that guarantee an upscale braking experience. 

Another factor that favors the use of these pads in all types of vehicles is their price. Considering their ceramic composition and premium features, the price of these brake pads is quite reasonable.

Should I Choose a Different Option in This List? 

We do not doubt that Wagner TQ pads are a good choice for the vast majority of passenger cars, SUVs, and trucks. However, we are also sure that there are a good amount of drivers who are looking for something more than an “OE brake pad replacement”. 

For this group that requires superior brake pads designed for either severe duty or high-performance applications, there are better alternatives such as Akebono Performance, EBC Redstuff, or Bosch Severe Duty brake pads.

Bottom Line

The Wagner ThermoQuiet brake pads are a solid choice for all car owners looking to improve the stopping power of their vehicles. Their competitive price as well as their quality make these pads an excellent option to consider for daily driving vehicles. An option that is perhaps only rivaled by the Duralast Gold pads that we also review in this guide.

Best Semi-Metallic Brake Pads:Wagner Thermoquiet MX Semi-Metallic Brake Pads

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  • Excellent value
  • Available for passenger cars, truck, and SUVs
  • One of the quietest semi-metallic pads on the market
  • One-piece design for better noise vibration and harshness (NVH) handling
  • Superior braking power thanks to its advanced semi-metallic friction compound


  • Hard on brake rotors
  • Noisier than Wagner TQ ceramic version

What Type of Brake Pad is This? 

You can think of Wagner ThermoQuiet Semi-Metallic brake pads as an alternative version of the Wagner TQ ceramic pads we already reviewed. Depending on the type of application you have in mind this can be positive or negative.

For example, if you own a full-size SUV and need to tow your boat frequently, the semi-metallic compound in these pads will deliver stronger bite and more stopping power than their ceramic counterpart. On the other hand, if you own a sedan and your priority is low dust production and ultra-quiet braking, then Wagner TQ ceramic pads are surely a better option.

What Type of Driving Are These Best For? 

Wagner TQ semi-metallic brake pads offer a higher level of performance than their ceramic version. For this reason, their braking performance makes them ideal for people with a more aggressive driving style and who prefer greater stopping power even though this represents higher levels of noise, dust, and even greater rotor wear.

Should I Choose a Different Option in This List? 

While Wagner TQ semi-metallic brake pads provide better performance than the vast majority of ceramic pads, this is not to say that they are suitable for heavy-duty or high-performance applications. Wagner has designed these pads for everyday use, which means that if you need pads capable to withstand the harsh conditions of constant braking, the Bosch SevereDuty pads are still a better choice. The same applies to drivers who need high-performance brake pads. 

In that case, EBC’s Redstuff pads (even though they are ceramic) are better suited for the task.

Bottom Line

If what you have been looking for is a set of brake pads capable of giving your vehicle better stopping power than OE pads then the Wagner TQ semi-metallic will not disappoint. Although these brake pads do not offer you the same premium benefits of their ceramic version, they do provide acceptable levels of noise and dust for daily driving applications.

Best Duralast Brake Pads:Duralast Gold Brake Pads


  • Low brake dust production
  • Includes all necessary hardware
  • Low noise levels, on par with OE pads
  • Incredibly good value for a set of brake pads
  • Available in ceramic and semi-metallic versions


  • Only suitable for daily driving vehicles
  • Need proper brake bed-in to avoid permanent squealing problems

What Type of Brake Pad is This? 

You can think of the Duralast Gold line as an inexpensive brake pad solution for everyday use. Available in both ceramic and semi-metallic formulations, these brake pads aim to offer you a viable alternative to OE parts. In that sense, they provide a braking experience very similar to the original parts but at a much more attractive price range.

What Type of Driving Are These Best For? 

Duralast has designed these brake pads to deliver stopping power on par with genuine parts. In other words, the Duralast Gold line is ideal for people who do not have special braking requirements, since they simply use their vehicles in a normal way to go from home to work, to the shopping center, or to pick up the children.

Should I Choose a Different Option in This List? 

As we have mentioned, Duralast Gold ceramic and semi-metallic brake pads, aim to provide an economical alternative to the original parts. Basically, both its formulation and its construction are as close as possible to the pads installed by the manufacturer. That said, if your application requires something beyond “normal” then these pads will not be the right fit.

Bottom Line

If you, like the vast majority of people, only need a set of brake pads with similar quality to the original parts, then the Duralast Gold line is a good option to save some money. On the other hand, if you are looking to significantly improve your stopping power, or want an upscale braking experience, then it would be more convenient to check out other options on this list, like the  Wagner TQ brake pads for example.

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How to Break in Brake Pads (How to Bed in Brake Pads)

Bedding-in brake pads is a crucial process that ensures the performance of your brakes as well as their longevity. In this section, we will outline the proper procedure to break-in your new pads. For your convenience, we have also included a video at the end of the section that shows this same procedure in more detail.

Ideally, this procedure should be done on a road with little or no traffic. However, if this is not possible, keep a good distance between your vehicle and the car in front of you at all times.

  1. The first stage of the process consists of making five moderate stops from 40 mph down to 10 mph in rapid succession without letting the brakes cool and do not come to a complete stop. This stage aims to remove the first layer of material from the brake pads. TIP: if you need to stop during this stage then put the gear in neutral and take your foot off the pedal to prevent the hot friction material from sticking to the rotor.
  2. The second stage of the process is similar to the first and consists of making five moderate stops from 35 mph down to 5 mph in rapid succession without letting the brakes cool and do not come to a complete stop.
  3. The third and final stage consists of driving your vehicle at a moderate speed for five minutes to allow the brakes to cool. Ideally, you shouldn’t stop or use the brakes too much during these five minutes.

Once the three stages are completed, your brake pads will be ready to be used as normal.


Cautious Considerations to Keep in Mind 

Due to its high-impact on the braking system performance, it is convenient to keep in mind the following considerations while shopping for new pads:

Are the Brake Pads the Problem?

This is possibly the most important question to ask yourself. While it is true that brake pads are often the most common cause of noise and vibration, this does not mean that you should ignore other components such as brake rotors, the condition of the brake fluid, and the condition of the brake pump among others. Our recommendation?

Before buying new brake pads, take your car to a shop and ask a certified technician to perform a complete brake system evaluation.

Is it a Good Idea to Use a Different Type of Brake Pad?

That depends on several factors. The consensus is that you should use the same type of brake pad recommended by the car manufacturer, be it ceramic, semi-metallic, metallic, etc. However, depending on your application, you could use another friction material that provides you more benefits. The problem lies in your safety, are you able to make this decision? Do you have enough knowledge to determine the type of material you should use? 

Again, we recommend that if you feel inclined to experiment with another type of brake pad material, consult a certified technician first.

Installing Your Brake Pads

Below we will outline the main steps necessary to install a new set of brake pads. However, for your convenience, we have also included a video at the end of this section that shows you the procedure in more detail.

  1. Have everything you need close at hand. Consult your vehicle’s service manual and have all the tools you need to change your brake pads ready. This includes any special tool you may need.
  2. Lift the vehicle. Lift your vehicle and secure it by placing jack stands at the manufacturer’s recommended support points.
  3. Get access to the brake pad. Remove the wheels and then, using the appropriate wrenches, remove the brake caliper as well as its support bracket.
  4. Remove the old pads. Once you have removed the caliper you can proceed to retire the old pads.
  5. Prepare the new brake pads. Lubricate the new set of brake pads using the recommended grease. Also, install new clips and other hardware as necessary. Do not skip this important step as it may hinder both your braking performance and the pad’s longevity.
  6. Install new brake pads. Place brake pads into the caliper ensuring that clips fitted properly.
  7. Install the brake caliper. Install the brake caliper and tight it using the appropriate amount of torque.
  8. Repeat the procedure for each corner. Follow the same procedure for each wheel. Be extra careful when servicing rear brakes as you might have to deal with the parking brake. Refer to the service manual for more details.

Servicing the brakes is probably one of the favorite DIY projects among enthusiasts. Depending on the tools and facilities you have, the entire procedure may take 2 to 4 hours. Additionally, performing this task yourself can save you between $150 and $400 in labor, which is not bad at all for a job that can be completed in half-day.


Throughout this guide, we have explored a great deal of information regarding the most important aspects to consider before choosing the best brake pads for your vehicle. We’ve talked about the types of materials used in brake pads, the most common signs indicating that they need to be changed, and even how to replace the pads yourself.

Also, we have included a comprehensive list of the best brake pads for different applications. Hopefully, after reading this article, you will have enough judgment to decide which is the best option for your specific use case and therefore get the most out of your braking system.

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People Also Ask

The braking system is a fascinating subject, so you probably have a lot of questions to ask. For your convenience, in this section, we have grouped the most common of them.

How Long Does it Take to Change Brake Pads? 

The average time it takes to replace the front brake pads is 45 minutes to 1 hour. Replacing the rear brake pads typically takes a similar amount of time, meaning a full service to the four corners should take 1.5-2 hours.

However, keep in mind that this is an estimate that is based on various assumptions such as that the work is performed by a professional mechanic who has all the necessary tools for the job (including a car lift). This estimate does not include extra labor such as replacement or resurfacing of brake rotors. So the actual time for this job could easily increase from 2 to 4 hours depending on the make, model, and year of your vehicle.

How Much to Replace Brake Pads? 

Generally speaking, the labor cost of replacing brake pads can range from $150 to $400. This cost is based on an estimate of 3-4 hours of work at an average of $50 to $100 per hour. The final price will depend on the make, model, and year of your vehicle, as well as the repair shop where you do the work.

How Thick Are New Brake Pads?

Depending on the brand and type of vehicle, new brake pads usually have between 8 to 12 millimeters of thickness.

Note that this thickness is determined by things like caliper design, rotor thickness, and more. So it is not a good idea to experiment with brake pads that are not specifically designed for the year and model of your vehicle.

What Are Brake Pads Made of?

The material from which the brake pads are made can vary depending on the type of pad. For example, ceramic pads tend to have a low content of metals (usually copper) and a high content of synthetic/ceramic materials, while metallic and semi-metallic pads have between 30% to 70% of metals (iron, steel, copper) mixed with other components such as graphite, fiberglass, and other filling materials.

Where Do the Clips Go on Brake Pads?

The brake pad clips must be placed at the rear of the caliper, specifically between the brake pad and the caliper bracket, since in this way they can fulfill their function of creating a uniform surface for the brake pads and avoid vibrations.

What Kind of Grease For Brake Pads?

Many manufacturers have popularized the trend of including both brake pad grease and the necessary hardware along with the brake pads to avoid problems such as noise, vibration, and more. This is because brake pad grease has unique properties, different from the grease commonly used in other applications. To learn more about these peculiarities, we invite you to read this article.

What Are Sintered Brake Pads?

The term “sintered brake pads” is often associated with metallic or semi-metallic brake pads. However, formally speaking, “sintering” is a manufacturing process that involves the fusion of different particles into a common mass through the use of heat and high pressure, without actually melting any of the materials. This clarification is important since today many manufacturers use this process to create the friction material used in both ceramic and non-ceramic pads.

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