Should you spring for after-market brakes?
OEM versus After-Market Brakes
After you buy your new vehicle (or a used vehicle that’s new to you), you don’t want to consider replacing the brakes immediately. Most manufacturer’s factory-standard brakes are designed to reduce noise, dust, increase stopping ability, and long-life. These brake pads are called OEM brake pads. For everyday driving, commuting to work, and shuttling passengers around town, these are just what you need. They do have their drawbacks, though. OEM tend to have longer stopping distances than after-market brakes. Some are quick to lose their coefficient of friction when under extreme heat. These are not a problem for the typical drive that we’ve mentioned, but there are other options out there. Drivers of performance vehicles, you may want to learn how after-market brakes can improve your ride.
When we say “performance vehicle,” we mean the car that you take to the speed track, or the truck that takes you off-roading, and any engine where you expect exceptional power. Because these vehicles are capable of great speed and power, they require brakes to control your vehicle to keep you safe. The difference in after-market brakes is the wide range of compounds, from organic to aramid fiber. These high-performance materials can perform under great heat and stress, so you don’t feel any loss of brake control. You will also notice shorter stopping distances, as your high-performance brakes are more efficient. In general, the feel of your brake pedal and the whole braking system will be more responsive.
With great power comes great responsibility, though, and the wear on your after-market brakes should also be at the forefront of your mind when you are making your replacement choice. These brakes will cause wear more quickly to your brake rotors. These high-performance materials also produce more dust and require frequent cleaning. However, this should be a standard service for your performance vehicle, along with oil changes to remove impurities and air filter rotations to keep your engine clean and cool.
The choice between OEM and after-market brakes comes down to your requirements for your vehicle. Do you want brakes that will give you consistent stopping over the years with minimal maintenance? OEM brakes may be sufficient for your needs. However, this won’t sound like nearly enough for the performance owner. If you’re pushing your engine to the redline and need brakes that can stop you on a dime, OEM will not be enough. If your SUV spends more time off-road than on the road, your brakes could be the difference between a successful trek and needing a tow.