Tire Rack has developed a general guide to help you quickly determine a brake pad's key features. Using a five-symbol system in three key areas, you can quickly determine a pad material's strengths and weaknesses in the categories that consumers have told us matter the most. The general ratings are based on the results of Tire Rack's product testing and consumer feedback.
Higher scores equal greater than Original Equipment stopping power.
The reassuring feeling a driver gets when applying the brakes from moderate to high speeds is the driver's measure of stopping power. In basic terms, the effort the driver puts into the brake pedal matches the desired amount of speed reduction resulting in increased levels of confidence.
Brake pads with higher scores in this category perform with little to no brake noise when installed properly.
Modern brake pads and caliper systems are engineered with several different features to reduce the brake squeal that results from the pad material creating friction against the rotor. Chamfered friction material and metal or fiber shims are just a couple of the common ways to help reduce brake system noise.
Pads that produce lower amounts of dust will receive the highest scores in this category.
While all brake pad friction material generates dust as it stops a vehicle, some brake pads produce more visible dust than others. Generally, a pad with higher friction levels and operating temperature range will produce higher dust levels. For example, pads used on high performance vehicles operated at high speeds or vehicles used for towing require brake pad material that can operate effectively at higher than normal brake temperatures. The trade off for this increased performance is typically increased brake dust.