Screeching, reduced stopping power…It just might be the time to do a brake pad replacement on your much loved Audi.
Should you go OEM or aftermarket, though? And if you choose the latter, what brands would be a good choice?
I’d recommend going aftermarket. Audi OEMs have great stopping power, but they can be noisy and dusty as hell.
The best brake pads for Audi A4 or A5 would be these Akebono Euro pads. Slightly softer bite than OEM, but way less dust and noise. Made in the US too.
Akebono Euro pads won the best overall import aftermarket product (source here) with a reason.
Want German brakes for your Audi? This Bosch QuietCast kit fits 2006-2011 Audi A6 models, as well as 2005-2009 A4.
The benefits of QuietCast is their ridiculously affordable price considering how quiet and easy on the rotors they are. An issue here would the brake wear indicator which doesn’t fit as snugly as some other aftermarket parts.
The third, last option would be the distinguished EBC RedStuff brake pads.
If you value strong stopping power and more aggressive bite, go for them. Keep in mind these will dust a bit more than both Akebono or Bosch, however.
Jump to whichever section of this review interests you the most – and fits your preferences.
Is changing the brake pads or rotors of my Audi that hard?
Automotive DIY is on the rise over the past few years, and I see more and more people opting to do their own brake pad replacement.
Some want to experiment and learn. Others are mainly driven by the fact that you can save hundreds of dollars with a few hours of work on your own.
I don’t know your background, but generally I’d give this a 6/10 difficulty. Obviously, what can help a lot is a well-fitting replacement – what Akebono are famous for.
This video is one of the best guides. It’s on a 2012-2018 Audi A6 C7, but the basics are quite similar to what you’d have with an A4 B8 or an older A3:
Best brake pads for Audi A4:
Note: Keep in mind these are the front brake pads for 2009-2016 Audi A4 models. They fit 2008-2017 A5 too.
Akebono is a very well-known brand for anyone who owns American or Japanese vehicles. However, not many people know that they’re one of the few brands that manufacture brake pads specifically targeted at European vehicles too.
Their Euro line features high-end ceramic pads that focus on exact OEM fit, way less dusting, and American-made quality.
Are they as aggressive as EBC or Audi OEMs in terms of pad bite?
No, not really. There’s a certain smoothness and a gentle pedal feel to them. However, don’t mistake this with a lack of stopping power – they have it in them.
One of the things you’ll love about them as a DIYer is how seamless the install here is. The pads themselves, as well as the brake wear indicator, should fit snugly unlike a lot of other aftermarkets.
The only drawback is their price – slightly higher than Bosch, for example. In my eyes, however, a few bucks more are worth it when you will have these for years ahead.
Best affordable brake pads & rotors for Audi A4 or A6:
So, these fit 2005-2009 A4, as well as Quattro models. From the A6 years, it’s the right fit for 2006-2011 models.
As I mentioned before, these are the cheapest option if you’re looking at quality aftermarket replacements. Furthermore, Bosch has been an OEM manufacturer for a lot of Audi, BMW and VW automotive applications.
QuietCast stick to their name and are one of the most silent braking solutions out there. This also applies to their good value rotors, which are a good supplement to the pads.
One issue you might encounter here, however, is the fit. It’s not a total pain in the ass, but you’d have to tinker around more then Akebonos. I’ve seen some people also complain about the brake wear indicator not fitting that snugly either.
The pad bite here once again is not as aggressive as OEMs. If you’re looking for something more snappy, EBC is where it’s at.
Despite the slight fit issues, Bosch remain a popular choice for the casual driver who doesn’t want to shell out too much cash on brake replacements. I have a full review of the QuiestCast line here.
More pad bite for your Audi:
- A4 2009-2016
- A5 2008, as well as 2015-2017
- S4 2008-2017
- S5 2007-2016
They also fit the Allroad Quattros from 2013-2017. They do not fit Q7!
EBC is synonymous with performance and racing-grade braking action. The RedStuff might be their least dusting pad type, but they still dust more than either Akebono or Bosch.
No matter the road condition, you’ll find these unstoppable. The Kevlar-based fiber compound mixed with their ceramic manufacture allows for better heat resistance and improved brake pad life.
Definitely way more aggressive than the previous recommendations. EBC ran their own experiments and found out the Redstuff pads reduce some models’ stopping distance by 50 feet @ 100 miles/hour
About Audi Brake Service
Take the Vehicle in If the Brakes Squeak to Reduce Costs
Which Brake Pad is Best for My Audi?
When picking the best brake pad for your Audi, there are three main questions that you should ask yourself first:
- Do you use your Audi for everyday driving, going, and coming from work?
- Are you a gentle daily driver?
- What is the performance requirement of your vehicle: higher or lower than average?
From the answers, you will realize drivers typically fall into two main categories:
These are the most common types of drivers, and they use their car to go to and come from work and run errands. Such a vehicle needs to have consistent performance and be reliable every time. The drivers will thus need regular brake pads.
A performance driver will focus their driving directly on performance. They demand and require the car to be in a position of repeatedly stopping under tough conditions. Furthermore, they need the vehicle to be predictable and reliable under tough conditions. Hence the need for performance brake pads.
Now you can have both the categories mixed, but you need to make your wants and needs clear as you choose a brake pad to ease your selection process.
There are various types of brake pads for you to choose from like:
Semi-Metallic Brake Pads
These are the most popular type of brake pad and are made using steel wool or wire, then copper or graphite, and later friction material modifiers with approximately 30% and 65% metal content. Though they are long-lasting and have excellent heat transfer, they are noisy and wear your brake rotors down quickly.
These organic brake pad types are designed from organic materials such as glass, fiber, Kevlar, and rubber. The pads are more tender and have a quiet operation, meaning they do not cause the brake noise associated with the Semi-Metallic brake pads. Nonetheless, they tend to wear down much quicker and produce brake dust.
Ceramic Brake Pads
Ceramic brake pads are mainly designed using ceramic fibers and filler materials. Though they might be more expensive than other brake pads, ceramic brakes produce noise-free braking and are usually cleaner than other types of brake pads.
How Long Will My Audi Brake Pads Last?
Any car’s braking system depends on various parts working harmoniously, like the calipers, brake pads, and rotors. You will sometimes require replacing the parts to ensure your brakes continue serving you well.
Because your brake pads experience the greatest wear, you will need to replace them more often. But for how long with the brake pads last? Usually, they will last you up to 70,000 miles, though this is affected by various factors such as the model and make of the vehicle, the brake pad materials, and your driving style.
You could look at the owner’s manual and see how regularly you should inspect and, if required, replace the brake pads. If you are a luxury Audi driver, you need your brake pads’ thickness inspected every 10,000 miles. However, some manufacturers recommend different time intervals between the inspections.
Extending the Brake Pads Lifespan
You could use various ways to elongate the life of the brake pads. Since your driving habits wear the pads down quickly, you should tame your driving speeds. By continuing to speed and slamming the brake pedal for heavy braking, you are subjecting the pads to unnecessary wear.
You could consider ferrying lighter loads. When carrying many additional items in the trunk, eliminate the ones that should not be there. The greater the mass in the vehicle, the more braking power is necessary to slow down and stop. If you reduce the weight, you will minimize the strain on your brake pads.
Signs of Wearing Out Brake Pads
Though the tips above might be helpful, you can only do so much before your brake pads begin wearing out. If you are uncertain about how long ago you inspected the brake pads, watch out for the brake pad wear indicators below:
- Vehicle Pulling Towards One Side
This might occur during breaking and means there is a great likelihood of the pads wearing unevenly. They thus require replacement.
- Vibrating or Noisy brakes
This may occur when the brake pads wear too thin or collect a lot of dust. It is a tell-tale sign that new ones are necessary.
- Squealing or Squeaking Noise
A squeaky brake could be normal in some extreme driving conditions – weather conditions, such as following rainstorms. Nonetheless, having squealing or squeaking brakes throughout should indicate an issue you should address as soon as possible.
- Deep, Grinding Metallic Sound
This often happens if your brake pads become too worn out, they begin rubbing against the brake rotor. By failing to replace the pads soon, you put the rotors at risk of damage.
I hope this has helped a bit, as there are lots of aftermarket brands – and not all were created equal. There are some seriously lackluster options that will just leave you frustrated.
What are your own experiences? Did you go with OEM or did you go for an aftermarket brand? Have you tried other manufacturers?
Let me know in the comments below, I’d be happy to read about your own impressions.