The 10 Best Car Brakes to Buy 2020

The 10 Best Car Brakes to Buy 2020

Vital to the safe, everyday functioning of your vehicle, it is hard to think of a component that needs to be chosen more carefully than the brakes. For peace of mind, you need to know that your car can come to a stop reliably and quickly should the worst happen.

That said, the choice should also be made with everyday use in mind. Emergency stops are rare, and what may matter most to you is the long-term use potential of your brakes. Healthy brakes don’t squeak, squeal or judder, and it is worth paying for quality to ensure you aren’t making replacements too often.

Choosing the Right Car Brakes

While you can’t afford to skimp on such an important part, it shouldn’t cost the Earth either. There are options available for most budgets and we have curated some of the best to ensure you are getting value for money, even when you aren’t picking the premium price.

So, read on, and we’ll explain what you need to know and present you with our top picks to help you make your decision.

Main Components

The modern disc brake is comprised of a number of parts, though we cover only two in this guide. One is the rotating rotor disc, which spins with the wheel, and the brake pads, which are attached to calipers that squeeze the disc to slow its spin through friction when the brake is applied.

The rotor disc and the brake pads are both replaceable and are the components that wear the most under repeated use. Most products featured in this guide come with both, offering a full replacement.

Material

Rotors and brake pads come comprised of a variety of different materials, and these have differing properties you will want to be aware of when considering a purchase.

The discs are, most often, made of cast iron. Steel or layered steel is an alternative or, for a more premium price, you can also find carbon or ceramic discs.

Likewise, there is a choice to be made for brake pads, and this can be seen as more significant since your pads will usually wear and need replacing more often. Brake pads can be made of semi-metallic, organic or ceramic materials.

If you want to know more about this, we tackle this subject in more depth in our section on components below.

Position and Fitting

Buying car components can be a nightmare if you’re not already well-informed. It is sometimes difficult to know if a part is right for your car without significant research.

For example, it’s worth noting that front and rear brakes are different and should be chosen based on your specific needs. Additionally, some rotors and brake kits only fit certain models of car.

Thankfully, Amazon has you covered. At the top of each product page is an easy-to-use widget that allows you to input your car’s specific details, and then tells you if the part you have selected is correct. This is especially helpful on components as integral and important as the brakes. No more mistakes or waiting on refunds.

Rotor Types

Rotors are a basic component, but come in a variety of types. They can be cross-drilled (good for bad weather), slotted (great for high-speed stopping), both, or neither.

It is common to see rotors available that are both slotted and drilled. This combines the advantages of both, and are often the more expensive options on the market. They have the additional benefit of looking great, which may be a draw to discerning drivers.

We cover this in more detail in our guide to brake rotors below.

Additional Features to Consider

There are many features to note when evaluating a particular product for purchase. Some of these may provide additional value, depending on your needs and what you are looking for, so it is worth keeping them in mind.

Many rotors come with an anti-corrosion coating as standard, such as zinc plating. This is worth looking for as it will extend the life of your component, especially if you are routinely driving in inclement conditions such as rain or heavy dust.

You may want to consider the weight of the part, also. It is generally believed that lighter rotors are better, but there is contention on this idea. Lighter brakes do well on paper, and this has to do with lower rotor inertia and greater heat dissipation, though unless you’re a gear-head you probably won’t notice much difference.

Finally, some products come with small extras such as lubricant, which may save you another purchase later down the line. It is always worth keeping an eye open for these mini-bargains.

Now that we’ve armed you with some of the knowledge you need to make your decision, it’s time to look at the ten best brakes that we’ve cherry picked from the market. By the time you’re done reading you’ll hopefully have the product right for you, or at least have a good start searching for exactly what you need.

Top 10 Best Car Brakes 2020

1. Best Overall Brakes: Power Stop K2069 Front Brake Kit

Power Stop K2069 Front Brake Kit

Why we like it: This product is a winner – boasting quality materials and high-performance stopping power at a very reasonable price.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Position: Front
  • Material: Carbon-fiber ceramic
  • Rotors: Drilled, slotted
  • Weight: 57.1 pounds

This product from Power Stop shows us why they are a leading brand in the market for brake kits and components. Not just a great all-rounder, it also comes at a very reasonable price that’s hard to beat.

The kit includes two rotors and four brake pads for a full replacement of your front brakes. It is recommended to replace both at the same time to prevent uneven wearing, so Power Stop has you covered here.

The rotors are drilled and slotted, so come with the benefits of both. This means extra stopping power when you put your foot on the brake, and better heat dissipation to reduce wear and warping. They also feature Silver Zinc Dichromate plating as a ward against rust and corrosion, keeping your brakes healthy for longer and saving you money in the long run.

Made of a carbon-fiber ceramic compound, Power Stop boasts that their brake pads are a significant improvement over regular ceramic materials—though they’re not quite as good as the excellent rotors here. This means less noise, more ‘bite’ and much less dust created. In some rare cases, however, they have been known to wear down faster than they should.

As a bonus, the kit comes with its own stainless steel installation hardware, to make fitting it yourself that much easier. A container of high-temperature brake lubricant is also included with the price. There is also a sixty day warranty—which is nice, but a lot of options on the market offer more, like this similar (though not quite as high-performance) Detroit Axle Brake Kit.

Pros

  • Good price
  • High performance
  • Quality materials

Cons

  • Only 60 day warranty
  • Pads not as reliable quality as rotor

2. Best Premium Brakes: Power Stop K6268-36 Z36 Truck and Tow Brake Kit

Power Stop K6268-36 Z36 Truck and Tow Brake Kit

Why we like it: Another solid Power Stop kit, this product may be pricey but provides all the stopping power you need for a heavy vehicle.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Position: Front or rear
  • Material: Carbon-fiber ceramic
    Rotor: Drilled, slotted
  • Weight: 54.8 pounds

This PowerStop product is brake kit for both front and rear replacement, specially made to handle heavy vehicles and loads. As with other Power Stop kits, these brake components are packed with features that boost performance.

It’s worth noting that this is a full replacement kit, so it comes at a hefty price tag. This may be attractive if you want to upgrade all four of your brakes, or if you just want a few spares that may come in handy.

Slotted and cross-drilled, the rotors are machined to vent gas and clear debris from the friction surface, keeping your brake performance consistently smooth when you press the pedal. They also provide the additional bite that’s particularly important when it comes to stopping a large car or truck. The last thing you need when towing a large load down-hill are slow or unresponsive brakes.

Unfortunately, it is also worth noting that under long-term, heavy use these rotors have been rarely known to warp before their natural lifespan. It is always worth checking your brakes regularly to assess their health.

The brake pads are made of Power Stop’s proprietary carbon-fiber ceramic compound, which they say creates a larger amount of friction when it’s needed, as compared to other materials. This is also in addition to the benefits of quieter brakes and a considerably smaller amount of dust created.

A few extras come with the purchase. Steel installation hardware allows for more manageable fitting, and high-temperature brake lubricant keeps things moving.

Pros

  • Suited for large vehicles and heavy loads
  • Rotors are slotted and drilled for increased performance
  • Small extras make installation easier

Cons

  • Rotors have been known to warp prematurely
  • Premium price

3. Best Budget Brakes: Autospecialty KOE2069 OE Replacement Rear Brake Kit

Autospecialty KOE2069 OE Replacement Rear Brake Kit

Why we like it: This is one of the cheapest options on the market, while being reassuringly high quality. It may skimp on price, but performs perfectly well for the everyday driver.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Position: Rear
  • Material: Cast iron, ceramic pads
  • Rotors: Standard
  • Weight: 57.1 Pounds

Autospecialty does it again with another basic product that delivers on performance and quality, while skimping on the optional extras that add dollars to the cost. We have chosen this as our top budget pick for a reason – you just can’t beat the price, compared to other options.

This particular kit only offers a single pair of replacement pads and rotors, specifically for the rear wheels of the vehicle. This is a major reason why the price is so agreeable, and you should be aware that you may need to search for a front kit also if all four of your brakes need replacing. We have also reviewed a four-pack kit from the same company, which may be of interest to you if this is the case.

The rotors are predictably blank, with no extra features. This is perfectly serviceable for normal driving, though will not dissipate heat as well as other products. A shorter lifespan can be the result, due to premature warping, though this is not guaranteed.

Like other Autospecialty products, this kit is shipped with ceramic brake pads. Widely-regarded as the most desirable material for this purpose, this is a bonus in such a reasonably priced kit and helps with the generation of less noise and dust.

Along with the purchase comes the installation hardware you need to get the brakes fitted, and a bottle of high-temperature brake lube.

Pros

  • Unbeatable price
  • Reliable performance quality
  • Ceramic brake pads

Cons

  • Unattractive appearance
  • Not suited for heavy loads

4. Best Full Brake Set: Power Stop K2164 Front & Rear Brake Kit

Power Stop K2164 Front & Rear Brake Kit

Why we like it: A four-pack of Power Stop’s quality brakes, this kit is great for everyday driving and looks good while doing its job.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Position: Front and rear
  • Material: Cast iron, ceramic pads
  • Rotor: Drilled, slotted
  • Weight: 60 pounds

Power Stop continues to show its dominance in the market of car brake kits with another high-quality product. This one is similar to other Power Stop kits on this list, though it has some differences that make it worth its own mention.

With this product you’re getting the usual quality from this manufacturer, though this time in both front and rear replacements. That’s four rotors and eight brake pads, for a full replacement, or part replacement with spares.

The rotors are cross-drilled and slotted which, aside from the established benefits of added friction and better heat dissipation, also look great with low-profile tires or the right rims that can show them off. With an anti-rust and anti-corrosion zinc plating, they are guaranteed to stay looking good, too, under normal conditions. In regions of heavy weather, however, you may want to consider something more heavy-duty like this Detroit Axle set.

Unsurprisingly this product also comes with Power Stop’s specially-designed, carbon-fiber ceramic brake pads. This equates to whisper-quiet braking and less dust, which can prolong the lifespan of your components.

This product comes at a premium price, however this is still reasonable considering the amount of hardware you are getting for the purchase. Installation hardware is also included, along with the standard container of high-temperature brake lubricant.

Pros

  • Performs well in everyday driving
  • Looks great when used as a matching set
  • Four-pack provides extra value

Cons

  • Rotors sometimes known to rust in regions of persistent heavy weather

5. Best OEM Brake Kit: Autospecialty KOE2010 OE Replacement Brake Kit

Autospecialty KOE2010 OE Replacement Brake Kit

Why we like it: This is a basic kit with a price to match, while not skimping on performance quality. If you need something that works well and won’t break the bank, give this a look.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Position: Front and rear
  • Materials: Cast iron, ceramic pads
  • Rotor: Standard
  • Weight: 83.6 pounds

Autospecialty specializes in no-frills brake kits for those who are looking for a quick and budget replacement without the hassle. It is worth noting that this company is also part of the market-leading Power Stop family, which is a reassuring sign of quality.

This kit comes with a full set of four brakes for a complete replacement of front and rear rotors and pads. These are known as stock replacements and are similar to the style of brakes fitted in vehicles coming straight out of the factory. If you’re looking for a rear replacement only, our top budget pick is worth checking out, as it is made by the same company for a similarly attractive price.

Keeping with the ‘no-frills’ aspect of the product, the rotors are blank. This means that, while they perform their function perfectly well, they lack some of the premium features of other brands. This should not be an issue for everyday driving.

While the rotor may be basic, the pads, however, are ceramic and that comes with the benefit of lower dust and less noise compared to pads of other materials. A dual layer of rubberized shims also help to keep things quiet, padding the space between the pads and the calipers to prevent rattling.

Additionally, this kit comes with a few extra goodies to make life easier. Namely, a container of brake lube and some installation hardware – everything you need to get the replacement job done.

Pros

  • Simple and basic while not compromising quality
  • Very reasonable price
  • Ceramic pads are a bonus in an otherwise basic set

Cons

  • Rotors lack premium features that would increase performance
  • Unattractive aesthetic

6. Best OEM Brake Rotors: ACDelco 18A1705 Professional Front Disc Brake Rotor

ACDelco 18A1705 Professional Front Disc Brake Rotor

Why we like it: This simple product by ACDelco is built to OEM specifications so you can be assured of a very reliable level of quality and lifespan.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Position: Front
  • Material: Cast iron
  • Rotor: Standard
  • Weight: 26 pounds

As basic as it gets, ACDelco specializes in Original Equipment Manufacturer, or OEM, components that have the build quality of parts that come with your car straight out of the factory. If you’re not concerned with all the features and extras on offer from more premium brands, you can save yourself some dollars with this product and other products from the same company.

If you’re curious to read more about the concept of OEM components, we have covered the issue in our guide below.

ACDelco does not offer brake kits, only discrete components, and this is no exception. With this purchase you will receive only a single brake rotor suited for the front wheel of your car. As we may have mentioned, if you are making a replacement it is recommended to do so as an axle pair to avoid uneven wearing. As such, you may want to buy a second rotor to match. You’ll also need to pair it with some brake pads if you’re replacing those too.

A blank rotor, this is lacking in premium features such as slots and cross-drilled holes that would increase performance. To some this is a drawback, but the component quality is reassuringly high, meeting OE material standards, and it is perfectly suited to regular use over a long period.

This part comes with no extras, as may be expected, which helps keep it a solid budget pick.

Pros

  • Highly tested for quality
  • Meets OE material standards
  • Basic price for a quality product

Cons

  • Buying multiple results in higher price compared to other bundled kits

7. Brakes with the Best Warranty: Detroit Axle - Front and Rear Drilled and Slotted Disc Brake Kit

Detroit Axle - Front and Rear Drilled and Slotted Disc Brake Kit

Why we like it: Detroit Axle is very reliable on quality, and this kit is no exception. Their extended warranty is a testament to its long-term performance.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Position: Front and rear
  • Materials: Cast iron, ceramic pads
  • Rotors: Drilled, slotted
  • Weight: Not provided by manufacturer

Detroit Axle makes high-quality kits for specific models of vehicle. It is worth bearing this in mind as most kits they offer have limited application. You are very much recommended to use the Amazon widget to see if this is the right product for you. If not, you may want to consider browsing for Detroit Axle products applicable to your car. The reliable quality of this brand is worth chasing.

With that out of the way, this kit is a full replacement, offering pads and rotors for both front and rear wheels.

As with the majority of the products on this list, the rotors are cross-drilled and slotted. This gives up to 20% better braking performance as compared to standard, smooth rotors. Better ‘bite’, and significantly improved dissipation of heat come with this, which helps extend the lifespan of the component.

Unfortunately, with a focus squarely on function, this rotor is not particularly attractive in appearance, which may be an issue to some—those who value aesthetics as well as function might want to consider the attractive Platinum Hart Drilled and Slot Brake Kit.

The brake pads are ceramic, which the manufacturer guarantees is 0% metallic composition. This is a benefit for performance, resulting in a good amount of friction while also being very quiet, as compared to metallic pads. A downside, however, is that it has been known for these pads to generate a significant amount of dust, which looks unsightly on attractive wheel rims.

As far as extras go, this product comes with all the hardware you need for installation, along with a canister of brake cleaner and a container of brake fluid. While this may not tip the balance they are nonetheless attractive additions that will be useful. The best extra here is the 10-year warranty—and the peace of mind that comes with knowing these brakes are built well enough for the manufacturer to offer such generous coverage.

Pros

  • Focus on function over form promotes performance
  • Great heat dissipation compared to other products
  • Extended warranty

Cons

  • Pads can generate a lot of dust
  • Rotors are plain in appearance

8. Best Looking Brakes: Platinum Hart Drilled and Slot Brake Kit

Platinum Hart Drilled and Slot Brake Kit

Why we like it: A flashy product that doesn’t compromise on performance, you would be hard-pressed to find another kit that looks this good at this price.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Position: Front and rear
  • Material: Cast iron, ceramic pads
  • Rotors: Drilled, slotted
  • Weight: 96 pounds

Hart Brakes are a company that deals in attractive brake kits that perform just as great as they look. The company claims that performance brakes are not only for the race track. A bold statement, and one they strive to deliver on with this particular product.

This is a twelve-piece kit, containing four rotors and eight brake pads. It’s not often that all four brakes will need replacing at the same time, but you might want to consider it if you’re looking for a matching aesthetic. These rotors look great, with an eye-catching silver finish. Pair with suitably flashy rims for that high-performance appearance.

The rotors have all the features that are indicative of quality. They are cross-drilled and diamond slotted for proper air ventilation and extra friction, increasing overall performance. The signature diamond slots also help to prevent brake pad glazing in wet weather, ensuring safe operation at all times. Finally, they are coated with silver zinc plating to stave off rust and corrosion.

Made of ceramic material, the brake pads are otherwise not as high quality as the rotor. Don’t get us wrong, they are perfectly serviceable for long-term, everyday use, but they are known to shed more dust than other products of the same type. For a product that prioritizes its good looks, this can certainly be seen as a downside.

Brake hardware, used when fitting, comes as part of the purchase, along with a bottle of brake fluid to keep things topped up.

Overall, this is a quality product and a good choice if the racing aesthetic is what you’re after.

Pros

  • Flashy looks that are bound to get attention.
  • Diamond slots that help performance in wet weather
  • Very reasonable price for a pack of four replacements

Cons

  • Brake pads generate more dust than other options

9. Most Reliable Brakes: Complete Kit R1 Concepts eLine Drill/Slot Brake Kit

Complete Kit R1 Concepts eLine Drill/Slot Brake Kit

Why we like it: This is an extremely reliable product from a company that focuses on performance and efficiency. Additional rotor features make this kit stand out.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Position: Front and rear
  • Material: Cast iron, ceramic pads
  • Rotors: Drilled, slotted
  • Weight: 75.8 Pounds

An established name in the market when it comes to brakes and braking hardware, R1 Concepts is a reliable choice whether you’re looking for a replacement or an upgrade. The products they offer tend to be flashier than other options, with a focus on performance, which may be attractive to discerning drivers.

As the title suggests, this is a complete kit featuring four rotors and eight brake pads. As with other twelve-piece kits, this can be a full replacement or offer a few spares for future fitting. It’s always good practice to replace axle pairs at the same time, but you may also want to consider a total replacement for a matching set and peace of mind.

Featuring both diamond slots and cross-drilled holes, these rotors are built with performance in mind. The standard increases to friction and reliability are there, along with some extras that boost component health and longevity. The drilled holes are chamfered, which will help prevent cracking, and the diamond tips on the slots are an indicator for rotor replacement. When the tips are gone, you should consider an upgrade.

The main criticism of this product is in the quality of the rotor anti-corrosion plating. While looking great out of the box, the rotors have been known to rust at the edges after some use in heavy weather. This is a shame considering how attractive they are when new. We recommend this product as an alternative if you’re particularly interested in aesthetics.

That aside, this is otherwise a very reliable kit in terms of performance and quality. If looks are secondary to your concerns there is no reason not to consider this product.

Pros

  • Reliable, high-performance design
  • Rotor features offer handy, additional functions
  • Good price for content

Cons

  • Attractive design sometimes let down by premature rust

10. Atmansta QPD10051 Front Brake Kit

Atmansta QPD10051 Front Brake Kit

Why we like it: While a bare-bones kit with few extras this product still offers good performance and an attractive design.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Position: Front
  • Material: Cast iron, ceramic pads
  • Rotors: Drilled, slotted
  • Weight: 58.7 Pounds

A lesser-known brand in the field of braking and brake kits, Atmansta nonetheless offers a quality product that’s reasonably priced compared to its peers. A somewhat basic kit, there are no additional extras besides the main hardware, though the rotors are generously featured.

This product includes a single pair of rotors and four brake pads to match. This provides a replacement for both front brakes. Of course, as a partial kit, this is the main reason for the agreeable price. If you need a full replacement we recommend either this product by Power Stop or, at a lower budget, this product by Autospecialty.

The rest of this kit may be fairly ‘no-frills’, but the rotors have all the hallmarks of quality. Both slotted and cross-drilled they offer increased performance when compared to blank components. This means better stopping power and heat dissipation, which the discerning driver will appreciate, as it will lead to safer operation and longer life. They are also two-tone, which may provide a more striking appearance with the right rims.

As a bonus the pads supplied are ceramic, which reduces braking noise but in this case also means a little more dust. If this is an issue you may want to look to match the rotors of this kit with another set of brake pads that suit your needs better.

As stated, this kit comes with none of the handy extras that other products offer, but to some that may be a benefit. Why pay more for items you don’t need?

Pros

  • Good price for fully-featured rotors
  • Attractive two-tone design
  • Great stopping power

Cons

  • Lacking in useful extras
  • Pads generate more dust compared to other brands

Guide to Buying the Best Brake Components

close up car wheel near beach

Now that you’ve seen a selection of some of the finest brake kits and components on the market today, you may still have some questions to ask before making the decision. Here we aim to fill you in on some of the major issues and topics that are important to you when searching for the right part.

Brake Types

In the vast majority of cases there are two main brake types on the market today:

Disc brakes are, by far, the most common. The rotor, or brake disc, is attached to the main body of the wheel and is the rotating portion of the brake against which the second component, the brake pads, are applied. Attached to a set of calipers, the brake pads are squeezed against the rotor to create the friction needed to slow the wheel. Almost all modern vehicles use this type of brake.

Drum brakes are an older style of braking system that are not seen quite so often. They operate by using a set of pads that press outwards on the internal surface of a drum mounted on the wheel. These are most commonly seen in heavy-duty vehicles such as trucks, and have their own advantages, but for the most part have been overtaken by the more modern and popular disc brake.

Component Materials

A vital aspect to your brake components are the materials of which they are comprised, and shouldn’t be overlooked while searching for the right part.

Brake pads are arguably the part you should choose most carefully, as they tend to have a shorter lifespan so picking the right one can save you money in the long run. They come in a number of material compositions, each with their own advantages.

Semi-metallic pads are the most common, and come with the least cost. They are comprised of 30-60% metallic materials, with premium brands containing higher amounts. They are most suited for everyday driving as they are resilient and long-lasting, but can also be noisy compared to other options.

Organic pads are eco-friendly and perform well, though are not as durable compared to other materials and need replacing more often. They are recommended for use in lightweight vehicles and lighter road conditions where heavy braking isn’t an issue.

Ceramic pads are generally more expensive, offering a significant performance boost. They are considered best for high-performance vehicles, though also reduce brake noise, which can be attractive in normal driving conditions.

Rotors also come in a variety of material types.

Cast iron is the most common variety, and what you will see in the majority of rotors on the market. This is usually the cheapest and the heaviest option, as well as being most prone to corrosion. That said, it is certainly up to the task of day-to-day driving and has an acceptably long life span.

Steel, or layered steel, is an uncommon alternative to iron that is favored for its lighter weight and better heat dissipation. It is not as readily suited to everyday driving, however, as it is comparatively less durable and prone to warping under heavy use.

Ceramic rotors are even rarer still, but many premium options use them. They offer unbeatable performance in terms of heat dissipation and mechanical strength, but due to their high cost they are often reserved for suitably high-performance vehicles.

Rotor Features

Disc brake rotors can be machined in a number of different ways, creating a variety of options that each have their own properties. This can confer advantages but often add to the price of the part.

A blank, or smooth, rotor is generally the most common and is found on vehicles straight out of the factory. It has no special features, presenting only a smooth friction surface for the brake pads to clamp down on. While they serve their purpose perfectly well they do not dissipate heat or generate friction as well other types and, as such, can be prone to premature warping or wear-down.

Cross-drilled rotors are drilled with holes across their surface, which allows heat to dissipate more efficiently. They also increase braking performance in wet weather by allowing water to escape the friction surface.

Slotted rotors feature ‘slots’ or lines drilled into the surface of the disc. They serve a similar purpose to cross-drilled rotors, and also increases stopping power by allowing the pads to clamp with increased friction.

Cross-drilled holes and slots are often combined, as can be seen in many of the products on our list. This not only combines their advantages but also looks attractive to those who want a high-performance aesthetic. This product by Hart Brakes is a good example.

Brake Maintenance

Proper brake maintenance is vital to your continued safety while using your vehicle, so it is worth periodically taking the time to make sure your components are in good condition.

There are often built-in measures that will bring your attention to deteriorating brake pads. Small prongs or built-in sensors will squeal when braking, when the pads have worn past an acceptable level. This indicates that a replacement is in order.

Rotors are not quite so conveniently assessed, and instead it’s recommended that regular sight-checks are performed by a professional. You should generally consider replacing them after 30,000 to 70,000 miles, depending on your everyday driving conditions.

Rotor Tuning

‘Turning’ your rotors is also an option. This is the process by which rotors are repaired and maintained by machining off the top layer of the friction surface. This should be done approximately every second time you change your brake pads, but some damage can’t be repaired by turning and a replacement will be necessary. Your mechanic can advise here.

For both rotors and brake pads it is recommended that you replace axle pairs together, that is both wheels on the front or rear, to prevent uneven wearing. Failing to do so can result in uneven braking power and a tendency for the car to pull slightly in one direction.

You should also make the effort to check your brake fluid levels and quality periodically. In some cars, if your brake fluid is low the brake light will remain lit as an indicator. It is worth reading your vehicle manual, however, as some models differ.

Additionally, if your brake fluid is milky it indicates water has penetrated the system, and a full draining and replacement is needed. We recommend checking out this fluid by Bosch, which performs well and comes at an agreeable price.

Yourmechanic.com has a handy guide here on how often you should look at replacing your brakes.

Car Brake FAQ

Why Do My Brakes Squeak or Squeal When I Step on the Pedal?

This is one of the most common issues that plagues drivers when using their brakes and can be indicative of a few different problems. If you’re lucky it may be as simple as rust or debris being scraped off the friction surface and should stop after a few applications of the brake. However, if the sound is persistent it is a sign your brakes need attention.

As we’ve explained earlier, most brake pads are made with built-in indicators that let you know they are reaching the end of their lifespan by emitting a squealing noise when used. This may not always be the case, however, and noisy brakes can indicate a number of different problems such as a warped rotor. As such, it is good practice to take your car to a qualified mechanic to assess the health of your brakes.

My Brakes Judder When I Use Them. Why?

Brake judder is a vibration felt through the steering and suspension when the brakes are applied. This isn’t normal and there are a number of different causes, such as rotor warping, that will usually require a trip to your mechanic.

Wagner has a very informative article here that can help you diagnose the problem yourself.

What Is OEM and Why Is It Important?

This term crops up quite often when it comes to browsing auto parts. It means ‘Original Equipment Manufacturer’, which are the components your car was fitted with on the production line where it was made. The term can be used to describe parts created and endorsed by your car’s original manufacturer, or it can be used to designate components as built to OE standards. This means that there will be no modification needed to the part before installation, and you can be sure it will fit and operate correctly.

If you are interested in quality OEM parts we recommend looking at this product from ACDelco or this product from Autospecialty.

A full and detailed explanation of this concept, and the terms surrounding it, can be found here if you want to know more.

Why Are My Brakes Wearing Down So Quickly?

Do you find that you’re replacing your brake pads far more often than you think you should? There could be a few reasons for this, though the major culprit will be your driving habits. If you commute or drive regularly in congested conditions your pads will wear far more quickly compared to drivers on clear roads. It is also worth noting that your front pads will naturally wear faster than the rear, as the front brakes handle a lot more weight.

You can normally expect to replace your pads anywhere between 25,000 to 70,000 miles, but there are a few things you can do to make that number as high as possible.

First and foremost, you need to be aware of your braking habits. Braking slowly, and giving yourself plenty of time to stop will wear your brakes less in the long run. Driving at lower speeds in general will help with that. Additionally, try to reduce the weight of your vehicle by avoiding heavy loads. Semi-regular cleaning can also help by spraying your rotors when you wash the car. This will get rid of any debris that might result in faster wear.

If you’re looking for a set of brakes that won’t wear down for years, you can’t beat this kit from Detroit Axle — which also have a 10-year warranty, so if they do stop working any sooner, you’ll be covered.

Is Breaking in My Brakes Important? How Do I Do It?

‘Breaking in’ your brakes is the process by which new brakes are used and worn in to increase their performance. The short answer is yes, this is important to do. It is often done by your mechanic during a test drive after fitting your brakes, but not always.

This is particularly worth attention if you are replacing your pads, but not your rotors. After an extended period of use rotors can develop uneven grooves and ridges. When you upgrade to new pads there will not be 100% contact on the friction surface due to these irregularities.

It is recommended to take the car to a clear stretch of road, drive at 40 mph and then, every 100 yards or so, brake to 20 mph. It should not take more than a few miles and you will notice an improvement in stopping power as you proceed.

Safe Driving

We’ve come to the end of our guide and hopefully you now have enough to be able to make an informed decision on your purchase. Our list contains some of the top products on the market today as well as a selection of some hard-to-find gems, so you can be confident you’ll find something suited to your needs.

Whatever you choose, whether directly from our selection or just by taking inspiration, we hope it serves you well for many miles out on the open road. Until next time – safe driving.