Worn brakes are a danger to you and your passengers and can cause serious problems with your vehicle. Changing your brakes regularly, as recommended by the manufacturer, helps to give you optimum stopping performance. But with so many options out there, how do you know which brakes to choose? If your brake pads are showing signs of wearing out, here’s how to decide on the right replacement brakes for your vehicle.

Driving needs

The type of driving you do determines how heavy-duty you’ll need your brakes to be.

If you’re commuting to work, you’ll want quiet brakes that create minimum dust to keep your wheels clean for longer. However, you won’t necessarily need high-performance brakes – just safe and effective ones.

For more challenging driving conditions, such as towing heavy loads or heading on a 4WD  off-road adventure, you’ll need tougher brakes. Likewise if you have a high-performance vehicle or frequently drive on long, winding roads that are demanding on your brakes, you’ll want high-performance brake  parts to match. Since you’ll likely use your vehicle for street driving as well, look for versatile brakes that work optimally in both easy and challenging conditions.

Climate control

Your brakes should be able to perform well in any conditions – wet, dry, warm or cold. However, it’s also worth considering that some brakes are better suited for Australia’s hotter climate. Certain materials, such as ceramic, remain stable at higher braking temperatures, helping your brakes to last longer.

Quality improvements

Good brakes are essential to your safety, so they’re not something to compromise on. When you buy replacement brakes, they should be at least equal in quality to the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) braking system components.

If you want your brakes to last longer or want even better performance, such as for heavy-duty or off-road driving, you can upgrade to brakes that are even better quality.

The right materials

High-quality ceramic material is long lasting, able to withstand high temperatures and reduces brake fade when driving in wet conditions. For those outside Australia, ceramic is not ideal in very cold climates.

Semi-metallic brake pads are usually less expensive than ceramic, and can be ideal for heavy-duty vehicles. However, compared to ceramic pads they don’t last as long and produce more dust and noise when you brake.

Quiet design

The most common reason people upgrade their brakes is to reduce noise. As mentioned, ceramic material offers the advantage of being very quiet when you brake.

But the design is also important for quieter braking. For instance, the brake shim goes between your pads to prevent vibration and absorb sound. A shim with multiple layers provides extra insulation, further reducing noise.

Environmental impact

Certain brake parts are better for the environment than others. In particular, brake pads wear down over time and fine particles of the worn material are left on our roads. When it rains, these are washed into the gutter and eventually end up in rivers and lakes.

Many brake pads contain copper, which can help provide smooth braking but damages our waterways and doesn’t break down. It’s important to know you have a choice when it comes to your brakes, and there are quality alternatives that don’t contain copper. Look for low-copper or copper-free brake pads, such as in the Protex range . If you’re looking to lower your environmental impact, low or no copper brakes are worth thinking about when you’re looking for your next replacement brakes.