The Best Brake Pads for Your Car

Your brake pads are one of the most important parts of your vehicle and need to be maintained properly to ensure the safety of you and your passengers. A repair bill to change your brake pads can run into the hundreds of dollars, but the good news is that this is one repair that most people can tackle on their own.

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How Many Parts Do Brake Pads Have?

Brake pads are a simple mechanical part, but they do have a few different components that can differentiate the quality of the part.

  • Backing Plate – he backing plate is constructed with steel and provides the backbone for the entire brake pad. All the other parts are fastened to the backing plate.
  • Shims – The backing plate is constructed with steel and provides the backbone for the entire brake pad. All the other parts are fastened to the backing plate.
  • Friction Material – The friction material is the part of the pad that contacts the brake rotor and wears down over time. There are often specially designed slots, or cuts, through the friction material to aid in braking power and reduce noise. A good quality friction material will also be chamfered, which means that each end has an angle cut which reduces brake noise and improves progressive braking.
  • Clips or Springs – Some brakes require clips or springs to situate the brake pad properly on the mounting bracket. New clips will often be included in higher part grades, but it is possible to reuse clips as long as they haven’t been bent or damaged.

Which Brands are Best for My Car?

When it comes time to replace your pads, use this handy guide to determine the best brands of brake pad to purchase for your repair. There are three broad categories of brake pad available to consumers: standard, upgraded, and premium. We’ll take a look at a few options in each of those categories here.

Standard Brake Pads

Standard brake pads will be made to fit your vehicle like the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, with materials and components that match or exceed specifications from the manufacturer. They’re usually less expensive than the upgraded or premium trim levels but are suitable for normal diving.


Duralast brake pads boast better than average noise and brake dust ratings and match the standards for friction properties laid out by the original equipment manufacturer. They have two or more layers of shim material included. If you are an average driver, this range of brake pads will serve your needs quite well. 

Upgraded Brake Pads

Upgraded brake pads will also fit your vehicle like the OEM parts, but their materials and construction will exceed the specifications from the OEM. They are still very affordable, but provide enhanced stopping power and durability, which can come in handy if you drive on a freeway regularly.

Duralast Gold Brake Pads

duralast gold brake pads & rotors

If you’re looking to upgrade from the standard brake pads that came with your vehicle, Duralast Gold Brake Pads are a great choice. They have enhanced noise resistance and reduced brake dust emissions, plus their slots and chamfered edges are engineered to provide heightened safety and heat reduction. The friction material can be either semi-metallic or ceramic, depending on the OE material, so they are effective in a wide range of conditions. The shims on Duralast Gold pads are 3+ layers of vulcanized rubber to minimize brake rattle, so you won’t hear annoying sounds coming from the wheels. If your car requires clips as part of the brake pad installation, Duralast Gold brake pads include stainless steel clips, for long-lasting, rust-free performance. 

Premium Brake Pads

A set of premium brake pads will have superior stopping power and will be designed to undergo repeated stops from high speeds. The friction material will sometimes be made out of a ceramic compound to reduce noise and dust, but there are some performance advantages to semi-metallic friction materials, so you’ll see those compounds in this category as well. This group of pads will typically have the highest price point.

Duralast Elite Brake Pads

duralast elite brake pads

The lowest noise ratings and the smallest amount of brake dust emissions make Duralast Elite brake pads a great premium choice. If you’re wondering how these pads meet those standards, it’s because of the composition of the Next Generation Ceramic Technology friction material in the brake pad. All Duralast Elite pads use 3+ layers of vulcanized rubber shims and include any required clips in stainless steel. You may expect these brake pads to have a premium price, but the increase in price from Duralast Gold brake pads is not that noticeable.  If You’re driving a luxury car and you want a quiet ride with clean rims, Duralast Elite ceramic brake pads would be an excellent choice for you.

Brembo Premium Ceramic Brake Pads

Brembo has been a worldwide name in brakes since the 1970s when it burst onto the Formula 1 scene, supplying brakes for Ferrari. Brembo is known for supplying brake components to high-end sports car and luxury manufacturers but has also developed a presence in other market segments with brake pads and rotors. Brembo premium ceramic brake pads will provide premium braking power at a premium price.

Duralast Severe Duty Brake Pads

duralast elite brake pads & rotors

If you’re daily commute includes a trailer on the hitch, you may want to invest in a set of Duralast Severe Duty brake pads. They have a specially formulated friction material that is suited for towing heavy vehicles or loads, with frequent stops. They are engineered for thermal stability to resist brake fade, which is essential when you are towing a load in traffic.

Duralast Max Brake Pads

Duralast Max brake pads have superior stopping power with an advanced semi-metallic friction material that resists fade and dissipates heat. They’re designed to provide repeatable, consistent stopping distances and they are a great choice for extreme applications like fleet, towing, or pursuit vehicles. If your vehicle sees a lot of aggressive or repeated stopping, these are the pads for you.

Start Your Project Today

Don’t hesitate to pick your new brake pads and get to work either replacing your OEM brake pads or improving the stopping power of your brake system with a set of Duralast Gold or Duralast Max brake pads. AutoZone has the parts you need and an associate can help you with Trustworthy Advice in choosing the right parts for a job well done.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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