Why You Should Never Go for the Cheapest Brake Pads

Brakes are the most important part of your car. Here's why you shouldn't cut costs on them.

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Engineering ExplainedYouTube

Planning on buying some brake pads? That cheap set on the shelf of your local parts store might seem tempting, but there's a reason they're so cheap. Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained put together an in-depth video explanation breaking down why the cheapest pads aren't worth going for. You should watch it.

Fenske teamed up with brake systems manufacturer NSR to get access to the company's bespoke machinery made specifically to test brake pad performance. He compared five different pads available from for the same car: a budget aftermarket pad, a mid-tier aftermarket pad, a high-quality aftermarket pad, an NSR pad, and an OEM pad.

Using charts to analyze the relationship between pedal force, temperature, and frictional coefficient, Fenske is able to discern the cheapest pad is by far the least consistent and worst-performing among the group. The OEM and NSR pads perform the best, offering predictable pedal feel and stopping power.

Fenske goes on to compare the pads in simulated harsh winter conditions to see how they hold up. Unsurprisingly, the cheapest pad didn't do so well, with rust forming both on the friction material and the backing plate. The other two aftermarket choices didn't do too well either, but the OE and NSR pads came out virtually unscathed.

The most surprising result came from the shear test, where pads are put into a machine that calculates how much force it takes to separate the friction material from the backing plate. The budget and mid-tier aftermarket pads performed the best, outclassing the high-quality aftermarket pads, NRS pads, and the OEM pads.

Interesting stuff.