Best Brakes | The Best Pads & Rotors for 2023

Slowing down is just as important as speeding up. Here’s some of the best brakes on the performance aftermarket.

The aftermarket car parts industry is pretty massive, so when you’re starting out modifying a car, it can be a bit tricky to figure out which brands you should turn to. After all, you don’t want to add shoddy parts to your pride and joy by mistake. In this article, we’ll focus on two core elements of the braking system – namely, rotors (or discs, if you’re in the UK) and pads.

In simple terms, the brake rotor is a large circular plate that’s connected to the wheel. When you want to slow your car down, the pistons inside the brake caliper push against the brake pad, which in turn rubs against the rotor. The resulting friction turns kinetic energy (movement) into thermal energy, thus reducing your car’s speed.

Upgrading your rotors and pads essentially means you’ll be getting a brake system with better friction bite and/or heat tolerances, amongst other nuances.

To learn more about upgrading car braking systems as a whole, check out this guide.

Best Brakes: Rotors & Pads

A full Brembo big brake kit.



Brembo is probably the most well-known brakes manufacturer on the planet, and for good reason. There isn’t a single other braking system manufacturer that can claim the sort of technical innovation and motorsport prestige that Brembo has achieved.

To give you an idea, Brembo brakes have played a part in 26 Formula One driver’s championship titles, and 30 constructor’s championship wins. They’re also trusted by numerous performance marques across the globe to provide the braking systems for their OEM models. So, if you’re after a quality performance upgrade, you’ll be in safe hands.

Brembo’s current entry-level rotor upgrade is the TY3 disc. However, despite its modest positioning within Brembo’s product hierarchy, the TY3 is still super capable. In fact, it’s the design that teams in the FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) use on their race cars! The TY3’s slotted design helps to improve friction between the rotor and the pad, which in turn enhances braking performance.

Speaking of pads, the TY3 disc has been designed to work perfectly in conjunction with Brembo’s Sport HP2000 pads. These operate consistently across all temperatures up to 600 degrees Celsius (1112 F), as well as providing quiet functionality. For street-focused builds, these two upgrades alone will make a notable difference at pace.

Brembo full kits

That said, a full braking system consists of more than just rotors and pads. For example, you might want to upgrade your calipers, brake lines, or even brake fluid as well. So, if you’ve got the budget to upgrade everything at once, check out Brembo’s ‘big brake kits’.

There’s a handful to choose from, including the two that we’ll mention here. The Gran Turismo BM package is the next step up from the rotors and pads mentioned above. This includes a choice of either drilled or slotted rotors (that are higher quality than the TY3s), 4, 6, or 8-piston calipers, high-performance pads, and metal-braided hoses. You’ll mostly feel the benefits of these on the track, but even at lower street speeds, braking performance will be more decisive.

Hardcore lap-time chasers might prefer the Gran Turismo R kit though. In Brembo’s words, this is “the most sophisticated high performance braking system ever manufactured for a car”. The highly-developed calipers are arguably the GT R kit’s highlight, though you also get two-piece rotors, accompanying pads, and stainless-steel hoses manufactured by Goodridge – a brake line specialist.

Performance brake pads by EBC


EBC Brakes

Despite the difficulties posed by Brexit, British-based company EBC Brakes remains a key European market supplier of performance rotors and pads.

EBC’s most well-known products are probably its color-coordinated range of brake pads. The list of options begins with the ‘GreenStuff’ pads, intended for use on street-focused sports sedan or hot hatch builds, while RedStuff pads are for heavier and faster street cars & SUVs. Those red ones also provide the added benefit of minimal brake dust.

If you want to take things up a notch, YellowStuff pads provide the best balance between performance, refinement, and longevity. As a result, they’re currently EBC’s best-seller. Ideal for fast road driving, YellowStuff pads can also cope with infrequent track days. Though, if you plan on spending more time on the circuit, EBC’s got some more hardcore pads available too.

BlueStuff is for both road and track use, but there’s much more of an emphasis on circuit driving. Expect high friction, but potentially also higher wear and noise. Finally, OrangeStuff pads are for the circuit only. These offer the most performance, but you need to bed them in. They’re also technically not road-legal.

If you’ve got you’re head around all of that, let’s move on to rotors. EBC’s USR Series slotted discs are ideal for those of you who want to cruise around in peace and tranquility. These rotors provide a mostly silent braking experience, especially when you pair them with RedStuff pads. Wear and tear is also very low. Alternatively, EBC’s GD Sport rotors should appeal to the more performance-minded individuals amongst you. Unique wide slots help to cool both the rotors and the pads, while their dimpled design helps to disperse debris without affecting structural integrity (unlike drilled-through alternatives).

A pair of AP Racing brake rotors.

AP Racing

AP Racing has become one of the best brakes companies in the world, thanks to its ‘Race to Road’ approach to development. In short, all of AP’s core technology has been engineered to succeed on the race circuit, before trickling down into OEMs and the street performance aftermarket.

If you’re interested in a full big brake kit, AP supply upgrade packages for models from: Audi, BMW, Ford, Honda, Jaguar, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Peugeot, Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagen. These packages will include a set of slotted rotors, high performance pads and calipers, brake lines, and all the hardware you need to fit the parts to your car. Occasional track day use is well within these braking systems’ capabilities, though they’ve been geared towards improving less demanding street performance instead.

Arguably, AP Racing’s biggest specialty is actually brake calipers, rather than rotors or pads. There’s several to choose from, including the World Radi-CAL 1, which is a two-piece design, or the World Radi-CAL 2 – which offers less mass, improved rigidity and better cooling characteristics. The best of the bunch, though, is the Mono R – a monobloc caliper which is even stronger than the two-piece Radi-CALs. Mono Rs will perform well on any vehicle up to 3500kg!

Need something a little more hardcore? Check out AP Racing’s track-focused product range instead.

A set of Ferodo brake pads.


With more than 100 years of experience, Ferodo is undoubtedly one of the world’s best brakes suppliers. In fact, they claim to be the creator of the very first brake pad!

The British brand’s perforated rotor design prevents any build up of moisture or debris between the disc and pads, allowing for consistent, predictable performance. They also come lathered in Ferodo’s COAT+ anti-corrosion finish.

As for their range of pads, the FUSE+ package is likely to appeal to most readers. Having taken three years to develop, these attempt to offer the perfect balance between friction and passenger comfort. 75 different materials were tested in the process, before Ferodo finally settled on a combination of 20. As a result of this mixture, you’ll gain enhanced pedal feel over your standard pads, and less noise than some other high performance options. What’s more, the pads are constructed using Ferodo’s patented ‘Eco Friction’ tech, which emits less wheel dust and cuts emissions.



Tarox offers four different types of aftermarket brake rotor, and a three-tiered range of pads. If you like brands that do things differently, you’ll love these…

Tarox Brake Rotors

The defining element of Tarox rotors has to be their overtly unique slotting designs. Let’s start with the F2000 rotors, which, to the eye, appear the most ‘normal’. Originally a track-only rotor, the F2000 disc has since been refined for street use in higher powered hot hatches and sports saloons. Its spiral grooves allow for a good blend between heat dissipation and structural integrity, providing a notable performance increase over standard OEM rotors. Then there’s the G88 disc, which might be the most visually interesting brake rotor we’ve ever seen. This thing is absolutely covered in cooling grooves from edge to edge, though the perimeter of the rotor is chamfered in order not to cause too much pad wear. If you’re put off by such a novel design, don’t be – Tarox G88s have been popular in the tuning scene since 1988.

Next up, the Tarox Sport Japan rotors feature a drilled design. This is a much more aggressive solution to cooling compared to slots/grooves, and as such, the drilled holes have been strategically placed in order to retain the rotor’s structural integrity. Finally, Tarox ZEROs don’t have any slotting or drilling at all. Instead, they get their performance gains from the materials used. This high-grade cast has been tested relentlessly in production car racing, and according to Tarox, will lasts twice as long at high temperatures compared to a regular OEM plain disc.

Tarox Brake Pads

Moving onto brake pads, the Tarox Strada is likely to be the most popular, designed primarily for fast road & street use. Tarox Corsas are still just about refined enough for street use, but really, it’s only worth buying these if your car’s going to spend most of its time on the track instead. Finally, the Tarox Enduro is for the hardcore, genuine competition cars. These have a much higher operating temperature, so we wouldn’t recommend putting them on your street build. However, if you’re building a car for time attack or grassroots motorsport, the Enduro pads will serve you well.

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