Regarding braking performance, Akebono, Brembo, and Wagner are among the top choices for car owners looking to upgrade their brakes. But which one is right for you? Here’s my 2 cents share and a comparison of each brand’s features and benefits to help you decide.
Choosing between Akebono, Brembo, and Wagner brake pads can be challenging. All three brands are highly respected in the automotive industry and offer durability, performance, and reliability. To make the best choice, consider factors like price, your car’s make and model, and your driving style.
Research and expert advice can also help. But remember, each brand’s brakes are different, and you should consider your car’s needs and priorities, such as low dusting, the strength of the initial bite, or more aggressive stopping power.
Regarding brake pads, Akebono, Brembo, and Wagner are some of the most popular brands. But which one should you choose? Here’s a quick cheat sheet based on what I’ve seen so far:
- Perfect fit for high-performance cars and adventurous drivers.
- The signature red shims allow less brake noise but a bit more dusting.
- Manufactured with Elastomer-Steel-Elastomer brake technologies.
- Experience all the benefits of disc brakes over average brake pads.
Brake Industry Manufacture – Akebono, Brembo, and Wagner
When it comes to brake industry manufacturers, Akebono, Brembo, and Wagner are three of the best. All three brands have been around for decades, building a reputation for reliability and performance. You’ll find their brakes in almost every type of vehicle, from sporty cars to luxury sedans.
Compare and choose the best brake pedal for your ride! Akebono’s ProAct is made in the US, while Wagner and Brembo have global manufacturing with high-quality standards. It’s not just about where they are made – Wagner and Brembo have strict quality control measures.
As elements of quality take up a wide range of factors in the automotive industry, one of the key features that all ultra-premium brake pads have in common is the technology they are made from.
Ceramic Brake Pads
Ceramic brake pads have gained popularity among car owners due to their advanced technology. They provide advantages over traditional brake pads, including improved performance, reduced dusting, quieter operation, and extended lifespan.
The ceramic formula in these brakes gives a much smoother and more responsive braking experience, making them ideal for high-performance cars. Their low dusting and long life make them great for everyday driving.
For example, look at Akebono’s ProAct (left) and Wagner’s Thermoquiet (right). Both are ceramic pads focused on a similar niche of drivers: low dust, daily commute, and as quiet as possible brake action.
Akebono’s ProACT ceramic pads are manufactured using a unique ceramic formula that offers increased stopping power with less brake fade and longer pad life. Brembo’s Ultimax pads are also made of ceramic material, but they use a different proprietary formula that offers improved performance over traditional brakes.
Wagner Doesn’t Need Basic Shims
The ThermoQuiet pads by Wagner utilize a one-piece technology called Integrally Molded Sound Insulator, which eliminates the need for a conventional shim to reduce brake noise.
The fusion of the friction material, backing plate, and insulator results in a durable component that minimizes sound and vibrations during braking, contributing to TQ’s reputation for quiet and smooth braking. A Wagner brake will prevent brake squealing.
Where Is Akebono’s Strength, Then?
Akebono manufactures their pads with improved initial effectiveness, which means you need no break-in. Additionally, they’ve laser-focused on improving fade resistance and, above all, reducing rotor wear and tear or dusting.
By default, any ceramic friction technology has mercy on your rotors compared to metallic or semi-metallic brake pads. However, Akebono’s manufacturer – which I especially recommend for Toyotas, ensures their pads have the least impact on brake rotors. Forget about warping here.
Quality Aftermarket Brake Pads
Brembo deserves a separate category since they offer more than just brake pads. First, the ESE (Elastomer – Steel – Elastomer) red shims outshine most aftermarket makers in their racing utility. Extreme use-focused pads often screech unpleasantly.
Brembo’s multilayer shim approach dampens the noise, which is further improved by the sturdy backing plate. Obviously, you’re not getting ThermoQuiet levels of silent braking here, but the uses are entirely different anyways.
Second, Brembo brake pads offer easy modulation and aggressive bite, resulting in superior on-road response, a feature most similarly priced aftermarket brake pads brands do not achieve as effectively.
This is thanks to Brembo’s extensive research and development process, which includes testing their products on the most demanding tracks and roads worldwide. Brembo brake pads also have a longer lifespan than many of their competitors, meaning fewer replacements and less maintenance in the long run.
Advanced Braking According to Purpose
Brembo, Acebono, and Wagner are all high-quality brake system manufacturers. The development of brake technology offers a wide range of sic brake designs, and some are more fitted for urban drives, while others can withstand more action.
With that said, for daily commutes…Brembo remains more expensive, with more dust generation and causing a little more wear and tear on the rotors than optimal. This is because Akebono and Wagner are tailored and designed for general driving.
For racing purposes, however, Brembo is a pretty good choice. There’s something about European brands and how they care for your race track needs. Brembo’s competitor here would be EBC brakes, which I’ve praised already.
What About the Different Brake Pad Formulations?
Comparing brake pads can be highly contextual. Are you driving a sports car like a Nissan 350Z? Something tamer like a Honda Accord? Going full offroad and heavy-duty with an F-250?
Are you looking for something to improve your braking performance? Or are you satisfied with an emulation of how OEM brakes feel?
Manufacturers segment their brake pads into different formulations. Akebono has its Premium, Euro, and Performance series. Brembo focuses on the sports Performance series, even though they also have some OEM-like pads.
Wagner is the brand that stands out with a broader range of precise formulations:
- OEXfor towing and dual-shim design (ceramic + metallic)
- ThermoQuiet(low dust & silent for daily commuting)
- QuickStop(OEM replacement that focuses on stopping power)
- SevereDuty(heavy loads and offroad use)
These four are entirely different, making Wagner one of the most diverse brake pads manufacturers across driver segments.
So Are These Three the Best Brands Out There?
There is no standard option, as the difference lies in a combination of purpose and preference. For every person loving Akebono, you’d find someone preferring something else.
I outlined in which situations any of these three brands make the most sense, but there are other possible choices. For example, for the generalist who wants simple pads on a budget, Bosch aftermarket parts are also a standard car option.
As I’ve mentioned in my Bosch QuietCast review, they’re just…decent. A suitable OEM replacement for Asian vehicles, but nothing more spectacular.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with aftermarket brake parts and the various brands. Let me know in the comments; my readers will also appreciate it.