Friday, February 20, 2009

Tips & Tricks: Aftermarket brakes for German vehicles

Most Honda and Toyota owners have a vast array of options for aftermarket brakes. There are plenty of Honda/Acura and Toyota/Lexus products on the road, as well as the newer Korean brands, such that a ton of different options exist when it's time for new brake pads and/or rotors.

German vehicles can be a bit tricky. They are finicky, and many of them have brake wear sensors (many Japanese vehicles do too but only in their luxury brands). Also, what if it's time for pads but not rotors? Do you go the OEM (original equipment manufacturer, for those not familiar with the term) route, or do you go aftermarket?

All I can tell you is that my experience with aftermarket brakes has been great, and I've used - twice now - Sure, this is partly a shout-out to them, but it's also to ease your mind about using aftermarket brakes on a sophisticated luxury car. Note that in both cases below, we used OEM rotors with aftermarket pads, with positive results.

When my E-class needed new brakes, I was ready to go OEM. I had been told by my alignment specialist that OEM is the way to go with any car, when I had a Honda Accord, but I wanted to save money as well as get something without as much brake dust on my Benz wheels (the Benz OEM brakes, on both the W210 [1997-2002 (sedan) or 2003 (wagon)] and W211 chassis [2003 (sedan) and 2004 (wagon) to 2009] produce tons of brake dust). It seemed like I was washing the entire car every week just so I could clean the wheels. This isn't a bad thing - once a week wash is nice in the summer, especially, when one in cold climates has access to an outside hose that often - but it still was causing extra work, despite the great performance I got out of the brakes.

I spoke to a gentleman by the name of Yves at, and I got the referral from a friend. I told him I didn't want to invest in parts for my Benz that I wouldn't be happy with and he completely understood, and walked me through my options. I told him I was more concerned with performance, though the brakes didn't have to be "track-ready", meaning I wasn't racing the car or anything - they just had to be as safe in terms of 'bite' while also lasting a while, as the OEM brakes.

He recommended the following for my vehicle:

- Brembo discs all around, PBR Metal Masters rear pads, Akebono ceramic front pads

A year later it was time for brakes on my wife's 2000 Lexus ES300 Platinum Edition. Here's what we did on hers. Note that these still having amazing bite a year later because she doesn't drive aggressively and they have been amazing thus far:

- Brembo discs all around, PBR Metal Masters rear pads, Akebono Ceramic front pads

Noticing a pattern yet?

The point is, it's always worth it to explore aftermarket options even on items as important as brakes. Just do your research and work with a well-informed business like or There are plenty more out there but use your model's preferred forum to get the specific answers you need, or even talk to your parts specialist at your local dealership - they are usually more willing to work with you and answer questions, even about aftermarket parts, than you think.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Lively debate is encouraged, but please don't be a typical internet egomaniac or your comments will be deleted.