Brake squealing is one of the things that can drive me crazy in no time.
If you’re like me and the brake pads of your Toyota have turned into screeching madness…It’s obviously the time to replace them.
What I encounter often on Toyota forums is confusion. Which brake pads would be the best choice? Should you go OEM or aftermarket?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.
For example, these OEM Toyota brake pads are the perfect choice for a Tundra. Just save your previous shims, as the kit doesn’t include them.
I suggest you go aftermarket with other models, and I’ll explain why and how. I’m talking about:
Toyota Camry: Many choices, but the best would be these Akebono ProAct pads.
Toyota Corolla: In general, Wagner QuickStop brakes are a solid choice here.
I’ll also elaborate a bit more on an additional Tundra option.
Before I get to the full reviews on each model, I’d like to mention a few brands that you can generally trust. The manufacture with these is reliable, scores high on performance metrics, and the products will last you for a long time.
So what are the brands? The following:
Akebono – the Japanese brand responsible for many OEM brakes.
PowerStop (mainly for 4×4 or heavy-duty uses, though)
The latter two are generally good, but I feel Toyota applications aren’t their biggest forte. While solid all-around, I’d go with the first three. Also, ACDelco is a nice brand – but I’d leave them for US cars, they don’t jive well with Japanese manufacture.
Now, let’s take a look at each model and application, shall we? 🙂 Use the Table of Contents to navigate to what matches your vehicle specifics.
Table of Contents
1. Best brake pads for Toyota Camry:
Akebono ProAct 1212
Japanese cars deserve Japanese quality made in the US. The Camry is a shining example of that, with Akebono’s ProAct being the best thing you can put in your vehicle.
There’s a lot to like about the ProAct, starting with the fact that you don’t need any break-in procedures.
The biggest benefit for me is the reliability and consistency in stopping power. You might be cruising on the highway, or you might need to hit a panic stop. The situation doesn’t matter, as this ceramic brake pad will react immediately, giving you the brake power you need.
Another top reason for me picking these is the wear and tear on brake rotors. With a lot of pads, you’ll see them absolutely chewing on the rotors. Long-term, this is unsustainable, of course.
Akebonos are very merciful on rotors. Paired with the low dusting ceramic formulation, this allows for fantastic longevity of both brake pads and discs alike.
Definitely, a must have-for any Camry owner, if you ask me.
2. Best brake pads for Toyota Tacoma & 4Runner (offroad):
PowerStop Z36 K-137
This kit is one tough buddy, made for extra tough 4×4 vehicles that aren’t afraid to venture off the beaten path. If you’re looking for more casual driving, read my next recommendations.
If you’re here for towing and dirt riding, welcome. This is the right sidekick to have, as long as you drive:
Tacoma 2005-2020 with 6 lug wheels
Now, as these are tough, you will need to do some bedding in. The techniques differ, you can check the reviews on the Amazon page for instructions. Several people have clarified how they did their bed-in process, if it’s your first time.
Onto the brake pads themselves…Look, these are ceramic pads but strengthened with additional carbon fiber. Pure ceramic won’t handle the offroad as good as that.
A big difference here lies in the stainless steel shims, unlike some other pads’ rubber shims. The effect? Better heat dissipation, which you’ll need doing some hauling, towing, or general heavy-duty activities.
Don’t expect them to be as dust-free and low on wear and tear as standard pads like Wagner or Akebono. These are a heavy-duty beast, and they will dust a bit more.
This video is a bit long, but it generally shows how to install them – but also what they can do about your Tacoma:
All in all, the Z36 is the most optimal option for those of you who are into serious offroading with their Tacoma or 4Runner.
3. Best brake pads for Toyota Corolla:
Wagner QuickStop ZD1423
From the Tacoma offroad adventures, we go back to the streets and highways. The QuickStop is a reliable brake pad that will suit any compact car and sedan vehicle.
Note: This is the rear pad for 2009-2010, as well as 2012-2018 Corolla models. The front pad for 2009-2013 Corollas is this ZD1210 replacement part.
So what’s up with the QuickStop?
A lot of things, all of them suitable for commuter Toyotas. First of all, this brake pad inches as close to OEM performance as possible. With one added benefit:
Significantly improved stopping power.
The secret to this brake improvement is the friction material. A lot of manufacturers – OE or even Bosch, ACDelco, have friction coating that doesn’t cover the entirety of the brake pad. Even other Wagner products do this.
With QuickStop, the whole pad is covered by friction material. This leads to a smooth, yet firm bite and vastly improved stopping capabilities. There’s one drawback of this: you need the brake construction to match this performance.
To achieve this, Wagner have ditched the usual scorching process on the friction area. Instead, the QuickStops involve a 100% post-cured process.
Great pads. Not as kind on the rotors as the Akebonos – but perfect for more casual driving with your Corolla.
4. Best brakes for Toyota Tundra/Tacoma/4Runner (street):
Akebono ProAct 976
If you don’t want the OEM pads for your Tundra, or if you aren’t really interested in offroading with your Tacoma or 4Runner…This is the best choice you have.
Important note! This is the front replacement part for:
- Toyota Tundra 2004-2006. For 2007-2018 Tundra, stick to the OEM Toyota parts.
- Toyota Tacoma 2005-2017
- Toyota 4Runner 2003-2020
Rears differ a lot, so shop around using the fitment system of Amazon or the applicable online merchant.
What should I say? These are the same pads like the Camry Akebonos I reviewed earlier in the article. The difference is they’re formulated for these three particular Toyota models.
I think a lot of the light/heavy truck guys particularly about local manufacture. It makes sense, as bigger vehicles can absolutely demolish replacement parts.
As I mentioned before, Akebono ProAct is Japanese quality – but they’re made in the US. No subpar outsourcing anywhere else. Solid, reliable production for a high quality pad.
Bigger vehicles also require better stopping power, where this particular brake pad excels. Once again, pairing the improved braking efficiency with low levels of rotor wear and tear is simply fantastic.
Another reminder that ProAct pads don’t need any break-in either.
The only drawback I can come up with is the fact that unlike Wagner, Bosch etc., Akebono kits don’t come with the hardware included. Keep some of the pins and whatnot from your previous brake pads, or buy the hardware separately.
Toyota is one of the most diverse car manufacturers out there. It was a bit hard for me to narrow down my recommendations to these models…I mean, there’s still Toyota Rav4, Siennas, Sequoias…
Let me know if you want me to write an additional guide to these. Or, you know, just ask me for a recommendation in the comments.
It’s not easy to recommend only one particular brand, and I like to be objective. That’s why you saw me going from OEM to several aftermarket brands as the best brake pads for these Toyota models.
As far as other guides go, I also have a rather extensive look at spark plugs for Toyotas. Similar to the braking system, there are a few optimal choices there too.