Updated: May 27, 2015

Brake Pad Reviews:

Car ads are fond of saying how fast their vehicles go: from zero to 60 in 8 seconds! But far, far more important is how fast your car can go from 60 to zero. Brakes are crucial, and if they're not properly maintained, you can't vouch for the safety of your vehicle. But if you've been to a mechanic lately, you know that this proper maintenance can be very pricy. A great way to cut costs while ensuring your safety, that of your passengers, and that with every motorist and pedestrian you drive by, is to learn to replace your brakes pads yourself. If you have a bit of experience in this area, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars a year, and the job is relatively easy. If you can change your own oil, chances are very good that you can change your own brake pads. This guide will show you some of the top brands, how much they cost, how long they last, and some basics for installation.

Choosing Your Brake Pads

- A disc brake on a car is much like that on a bike. You know when you squeeze in a hand brake on a bike? The calipers squeeze into the wheel, slowing you. It is the same on a car. Instead of squeezing into the wheel, though, the brake calipers squeeze onto your rotor. Between the rotor and the caliper is your brake pad. Their function is to absorb heat and kinetic energy and provide enough friction to stop the car. If you've ever ridden your brakes down a very long mountain road, you'll be able to smell the brake pads working. Eventually, these wear - and they wear faster if you brake more often, as is the case if you live in mountainous regions or if you drive in a lot of stop-and-go traffic. How do you know when you need to change your brake pads? Luckily for those who don't keep track of the thousands of miles they've driven since they've changed their brake pads, there is a built-in indicator that will tell you. When your brake pads have worn down to a certain point, the metal indicator rubs against the rotor. When you brake, you'll hear a squeaking sound, or a chirp. When you hear this, it tells you that your brake pads are wearing down and you'll need to have them replaced very soon. It doesn't mean your car will fail to come to a stop at the next intersection, but it does mean that you'll need to have them looked at sooner rather than later. You may also be able to see that the brake pads are worn down, and another tell-tale sign is that you feel a wobble when you apply your brakes. This means that the pads have worn down, and the calipers are scoring the rotors. This likely means you've ignored that annoying chirping! Get your brake pads replaced immediately, and get your rotors buffed out at the same time. There are four different types of brake pads: non-asbestos organic, low metallic NAO, semi-metallic, and ceramic. Which is right for your car?

*Organic brake pads are made of materials such as carbon and kevlar. The advantage of these brake pad replacements is that they are the least expensive option. However, they usually wear much more quickly than other types of pads and they produce more brake dust. They won't give you long life, but you'll pay less. They are a good choice for smaller vehicles.
*Low metallic brake pads are made of small amounts of copper or steel, as well as organic materials. They are more resilient than organic brake pads and are capable of good performance. On the down side, they do wear relatively quickly, and they may leave a black residue on alloy wheels.
*Semi-metallic brakes are made from metals, including steel. These wear more slowly but are often louder than low metallic and organic brake pads.
*Ceramic pads are the most expensive and are the choice for those with high performance cars. They are smooth and consistent and wear very slowly. They typically cost about twice what other brake pads do.

You can browse the best selling brake pads online here.

Getting the Right Disc Brake Pads for Your Vehicle:

More expensive isn't always better when it comes to brakes. For instance, if you drive a smaller car and do an average amount of driving, there is no reason why organic brakes wouldn't be a safe choice. If you have a heavier vehicle, such as a truck, you'll want heavier duty brake pads. The most important aspect of getting the right brake pads is to make sure they are suited to your specific vehicle. How do you do this? A good way to check is to visit an online auto store, such as NAPA. The site will give you a list of appropriate choices. You could also look at your vehicle's specs to determine the right type of brake pads. After that initial step, make sure any brake pads you choose are D3EA certified. Some of the top brands are:

*Hawk Ceramic

Amazon can offer you the best prices, and they also have a convenient tool to ensure that the brake pads, rotors, and other supplies you buy fit your car. For instance, if you're buying brake pads for your 2009 Toyota Corolla, the tool will generate a list of suggestions, including the Raybestos PGD1210c Professional Grade Disc Brake Pad Set for $47, the Akebono ACT1210 ProACT Ultra-Premium Ceramic Brake Pad Set for $57, or the Satisfied PR1210 PRO Performance VS Vehicle Specific Disc Brake Pad for $33. These are just a few examples for one specific car. You can find this tool here.

Brake Pads Cost - Installing Your Brake Pads:

If you're interested in replacing your brake pads, there is a wonderful resource you should take advantage of: Chilton's auto books. These are available for different makes and models (so make sure to get the correct make and year for your particular car). These guides have useful instructions for any number of DIY car repairs, including changing your brake pads. Diagrams are also provided for your convenience. A second resource is YouTube. There are a host of videos offering tips and suggestions for changing your brake pads. You can even look to see if they have a video featuring your specific make and model (you can find almost anything on YouTube). A third resource that you should avail yourself to is someone who has experience doing this. Once they've shown you how and have helped you through the process once, you'll have a useful skill that will save you money every year. If you're not quite brave enough to change your brake pads, at least you'll know what type of brake pads to get and that you don't always have to choose the most expensive option that your mechanic suggests. Again, brake pads cost from $50 to about $150 for a set. If you can order them online and then take them to a shop to have them installed, you will probably save a few bucks - most auto repair shops have high markups on their parts. View top rated brake pads here.