Brake job - which are the best brakes to use

I am needing to replace the brakes on my 93 Dodge Caravan 2.5L 4 cylinder engine.

Are Wagner parts worth the extra money? Or is it just a good to go with the house brand of brakes from O’Reilly or another auto parts store like Advance Auto?

This is tough to answer because no one has researched and tried all the store brand brakes.

As a general rule, however, more expensive brakes will be quieter and will perform better under extremes of heat, cold, and moisture. Some of the moderately expensive brakes work well but generate a lot of black dust which is annoying. There are web sites where you can read user reviews of the specific brakes that you are considering. Keep in mind that when there are problems, the manufacturers make changes, so a two year old negative review may be outdated.

If you are changing brake types, be sure to use matching brake material on both ends of the vehicle so that the vehicle performs predictably under all conditions.

In my experience, you get what you pay for. The cheaper brake pads do not last nearly as long and create a ton of brake dust. Get “OEM” or better quality. (original equipment)

Wagner brakes are excellent…Are they worth it on a 20yo car…Personally I’d get the cheapest that will work.

I’ve Had Good Results With Advance’s Wagner Thermo-Quiet Ceramic Pads.
Another Thing I’ve Noticed Is That The Brakes On My Carvan Aren’t Very Big (Same Size As Intrepid), Another Reason For Better Pads. Try Some.

Order online with a code (search for codes) for store pick-up and save $.


You will do just fine with the house brand. My last set (about 3 years ago) came from Advance Auto. They appear just as good as the OEM brake pads, whatever they were. Long-lasting, no noise, and minimal brake dust.

The biggest variable is pad material rather than the brand. I like ceramic pads. Metallic pads are preferred by some because they last longer, but they can be noisier. OEM pads are generally organic, which is smooth and quiet but doesn’t last as long and creates more brake dust.

You may want to Google “brake pad materials and characteristics” to help you decide.

“You will do just fine with the house brand.” "My last set (about 3 years ago) came from Advance Auto."
SteveF, You Need To Be More Specific To Give Useful Advice. Advance Has Several Grades/Prices From Which To Choose. Specifically, Which Ones Did You Buy ?


Be Careful Trying To Be Thrifty.
Compare Apples To Apples.
Look Inside The Boxes Before Deciding.

If you’re planning to get any hardware with the pads then be careful. Some of the cheaper sets (including some store brands) don’t come with any hardware, whereas I’ve purchased better quality pads that came with hardware in the box, included. All in all the bargain pads were no bargain.


If you’re planning to get any hardware with the pads then be careful. Some of the cheaper sets (including some store brands) don’t come with any hardware

That’s a good point. Last set of brake pads bought (Wagner) came with a complete hardware set…Pads, clips, anti-squeak pads…even a small tube of grease. Here in NH…I like to ALWAYS replace the hardware along with the pads…Just makes the job a lot easier.

Since i enjoy working on the car and brakes take 25 mins to 1.5 hours for me, I go cheapo every time. Sometimes they last 30K, sometimes they last 60K.

Either way, i’m indifferent, cuz $20 for front pads is a great bargain.

Gdawgs, You Enjoy It, Eh ?
Then Come Over To My Place. You’d Be Putting Brakes On One Of Our Cars Every Couple Of Weeks.
Oh, And How Are You Outside At 15 Or 20 Degrees Below Zero Installing Brakes ?


there is multiple answers to this question depending on what you’re looking for in the brakes.
What’s most important to you?

  • braking distance when cold? (grabbing)
  • braking distance when hot?
  • low noise
  • low dusting?

I personally look for good braking power when cold for my family car and daily driver. The dust and noise are of no concern. I found that generally ceramic pads don’t perform too good in the braking category and the organic material has the best friction and stopping power.
I drive now on MINTEX pads on my daily driver and EBC Ultimax on our family cars. Both pads dust more than OEM but are far superior when it comes to stopping distance and initial grab.

afterall, there is a reason why all good braking cars (i.e. BMW, mercedes, Audi) have rims covered in black dust :slight_smile:

My most recent set is Wearever Silver, semi-metallic brake pads from Advance Auto. Each set was under $20. No noise, no dust. Recommended.

I use Brembo whenever possible. I have Brembos rotors/calipers on my Mustang with coupled EBC Redstuff pads, I have no complaints.

One thing to pay attention to is the fact that the house brands are pretty much always just repackaged versions of some other major brand. Its possible to buy something like “O’reilly” brakes but find out that they are just repackaged Wagners. Sometimes its hard to tell, though, whether things are the same or just look the same.

I second the bits about checking out the contents. New hardware kits are very desirable and sometimes getting them is why you might pay a little more.

I’ll also add that I don’t buy the bottom rack brake stuff anymore. I basically take anything from the middle tier with a known name on them.

You can’t go wrong with the Wagner Thermo-Quiet. Some of the house brands may be just as good at a lower price, right now I am using the AutoZone Duralast Ceramics on one car, but the rest have Wagners. I tried EBC Ultimax and I highly DO NOT recommend them. A lot of dust and very short life, but they are grippy, a little too grippy.

Cheapest set is what I would do with a vehicle that old.