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Brembo Vs Wilwood: Which Should You Use?

Close up of a gold color Brembo brake rotor and caliper on a Polestar 2 car

A lot is riding on your brakes. They are the only difference between you stopping your vehicle safely and your family flying into a brick wall at highway speeds. As such, you want the best brake system your money can buy.

Brembo and Wilwood are two of the most popular car braking kit brands on the market. While they have their pros and cons, their quality stands above their competitors. However, they serve different niches. Brembo brakes are great for high-performance, luxury vehicles. Meanwhile, Wilwood offers affordable options for heavy-duty vehicles.

Determining the brake kit for your vehicle requires evaluating a few key considerations. By reading further, you will learn about these factors and how to evaluate them. You will also learn a few tips that can help you know if you should have Brembo or Wilwood brakes on your vehicle.

Brembo or Wilwood: Which are the Best Brakes for Your Vehicle

Most people take their car’s brakes for granted often to their detriment. That is because the brakes serve a very important purpose. They allow you to stop your vehicle on demand, but their benefits go way beyond that. (Bowen, 2021)

A great car braking system can:

  • Increase road safety through smoother rides
  • Reduce stopping time with more control
  • Increase the lifespan of your vehicle
  • Ensure quiet operation of your vehicle

Because of this, you want to have the best brakes you can buy. However, you must base that decision on expert reviews, testimonies from other car owners, and numerous other factors. That is because every brake manufacturer claims to be the best in the business, and you need a way to cut through the hype.

With that said, two brake brands consistently sit on top of the market: Brembo and Wilwood. Both of them have a sizable customer base that swears behind their quality and reliability on the road. But how does that transfer over to your vehicle? Should you join the millions who stop their cars using Brembo or Wilwood brakes?

To answer those questions, we will take a look at who they are, their brake models, and their target customers.

Table Comparing Brembo and Wilwood Features (Arwood, 2022)

 BremboWilwood
Price$1,440 – $2500$600 – $1000
StyleDrilledSlottedDrilledSlottedDrilled and Slotted
Warranty2 YearNo warranty
MaterialsAircraft-Grade AluminumSteel
Best ForHigh-performance vehiclesHeavy-duty vehicles

Brembo Brakes

Based in Italy, Brembo is a world leader in high-performance brakes, calipers, and other carp parts and equipment. Their brakes are very popular among professional racing teams for their performance standards and high quality. They are also the go-to brakes for the world’s most prestigious and exclusive vehicles, including Ferrari, McClaren, Porsche, and many others. (Stuart, 2022)

The luxury brake brand offers to upgrade fits to help you achieve any level of performance from street racing to all-out track competitions. These kits let you improve the handling of your ride but at a price range, you can afford. In these kits, you will find brakes for each wheel plus everything you need to install them including rotors, calipers, lines, and so forth.

Brembo Front Brake kit Slotted 405x34 2-piece Rotor Monobloc 6-piston Black Caliper 1N3.9531A1
Brembo Front Brake kit Slotted 405×34 2-piece Rotor Monobloc 6-piston Black Caliper

Other Brembo brake kit features include:

  • Solid aluminum pieces
  • slotted or drilled brake options
  • A two-year warranty
  • Five color options

All that quality and performance comes with a premium though. You can expect to pay around $1400 for a full Brembo kit. Still, they might be worth the investment when maintaining a high-performance luxury vehicle. (Arwood, 2022)

Wilwood Brakes

Made in America for over 40 years, Wilwood also makes high-performance brakes, calipers, and other car components. They have a great track record for quality and reliability as well. However, their claim to fame is their target customers. Wilwood sells its fine brakes to both professional racing teams and amateur car enthusiasts.

The company produces high-quality brake systems for everything from street cars, muscle cars, kit cars, street rods, trucks, SUVs, racing cards, Go-karts, and snowmobiles. They even make heavy-duty, military-grade Humvee brakes for the U. S. military. (Stuart, 2022) To serve these applications, Wilwood produces over 300 models of brake calipers, rotors, master cylinders, brackets, fittings, valves, and brake lines.

Wilwood FDL-M Front Kit, 11.30 in. 1-PC. Rotor & Hub Drill Caliper Kit
Wilwood FDL-M Front Kit

Some important features of Wilwood brake kits include:

  • Steel pieces
  • Drilled, Slotted, and combined options

Wilwood brakes are a fine option if you need great performance at an affordable price. While there is no warranty, the $600 price tag per kit makes them cost-effective for most car owners. (Arwood, 2022)

Which Brakes are Better?

These two brands serve different niches, but there is some overlap. This is because they share many of their features and options. Therefore, unless your vehicle lies on the extremes, you must weigh their benefits and drawbacks against your car brake needs.

Performance Comparison

Brembo beats Wilwood on performance without question. While both brands offer professional racing-quality brakes, Wilwood does not come close to Brembo’s track record. As a result, you are guaranteed an enormous performance boost from stock with Brembo brakes. However, you will pay for that performance in maintenance costs as they require effort and very specific skills to install and fine-tune.

That said, if you do not mind the slightly lower performance, Wilwood brakes are perfect for most situations. They help you stand out from the crowd while giving you more control in a lighter package. This makes Wilwood brakes perfect for hot rods and other vehicles with weight restrictions.

Price Differences

As mentioned earlier, you must pay a higher premium for the higher-performance Brembo offers. As such, Wilwood brakes are better and more cost-effective when working with strict budgets. While kit purchase price will vary between shops, you will always save money by going with Wilwood brakes. There can be up to a $1000 price difference between comparable kits for the same car. (Stuart, 2022)

However, price is not always everything. Brembo brakes cost more because they are usually of higher quality, but some Wilwood kits can cost more. (S197Danny, 2020) Therefore, you should also still shop around. You may find a few bargains and discounts out there for both brands.

Which One Is Bette for Your Rider?

Generally, the best brake brand for your vehicle is:

  • Brembo Brakes if you want the older more established brand, require luxury performance, want a solid warranty, or have the budget for them
  • Wilwood Brakes if you require steel brakes, want something unique, working on a budget, or do not need a warranty

In either case, you are getting excellent brakes from a reliable brand. Brembo has the luxury market locked down, but Wilwood brakes are a fine alternative. As such, the right brake brand for your vehicle is still just a personal preference. (Arwood, 2022)

Wilwood Brake 140-11291-BK Black Powder Coated Front Caliper Kit
Wilwood Black Powder Coated Front Caliper Kit

Car Brakes Buying Guide and Tips

While they are popular, Brembo and Wilwood are not the only brake brands out there of varying quality. Some of these brands only produce brakes for a single vehicle make or model. Others will work in any vehicle on the road. A few are as good as Wilwood and Brembo but with more competitive pricing.

Therefore, you need a way to quickly evaluate the various brake designs and features to determine the best brakes for your vehicle and budget.

Some of the more important things to consider include:

  • Construction – Semi-Metallic, Metallic, Organic, or Ceramic
  • Complete set, pair, or individual brakes – brake kits come in all sizes from single brakes to full replacement sets for your ride
  • Drilled holes – look cool while making your brakes cool faster, great for heavy braking situations such as city or mountain driving
  • Slots – provides more stopping power by letting the brake pads grip the rotors better
  • Anti-corrosion protection – helps brakes withstand environmental hazards such as water, oil, and other road debris, extends the life of the brakes
  • Brake type – Drum or Disc
  • Pricing – price generally reflects quality but is not always

Brake Types

Brakes come in two types: drums and discs. Drum brakes are just metal drums mounted on the wheel. (Car Bibles, 2022) They work by driving pads into the drum to slow down the car through friction. While simple to understand and install, they are also the weaker of the two styles. They might be cheap, but they are depreciated on newer cars outside a few smaller, entry-level models.

Most modern vehicles use disc brakes. These brakes use pad-lined calipers that grab the disc, generating a lot more stopping power. They also cool faster, making them the better option in most cases. (Bowen, 2021)

Brake braking parts on a wooden table workbench with brake pads, disc, rotor, hoses, guides, and cylinders visible

Brake Pricing

Brake prices can be as low as a few bucks or as high as a few thousand dollars. Generally, the price of a brake kit reflects the quality of the brakes as better performing brakes than carrying a premium. However, not every model will work with every vehicle. Therefore, you should restrict yourself to the systems that fit your car.

Brake Material

All brakes consist of two parts: rotors and pads. Brake pads are movable parts with semi-metallic, organic, fully metallic, or ceramic coatings. Meanwhile, brake rotors come in sturdy and reliable cast iron, aluminum, carbon, ceramic, or steel. Each type has pros and cons but they all offer excellent braking performance and control.

Organic Brakes

While older models came in asbestos, modern organic brakes are much more environmentally friendly. Now, you can get them in carbon, fiberglass, rubber, glass, Kevlar, and other substances bound together in a resin. These brake materials are usually the most affordable options and give your vehicle an impressive performance boost and heat tolerance. They are also quiet and decently reliable. (Arwood, 2020)

However, they do not offer the best performance on the market. They also wear out quickly. As such, they are better suited for everyday driving.

Close up of a high performance wheel rim disc brake with rotor and caliper visible

Ceramic Brakes

Ceramic brakes use ceramic materials interwoven with copper to dissipate heat. This construction gives them an extremely high tolerance for heat and wear. As such, they offer high durability and braking performance. They also run silently and cleanly with no perceptible squealing, screeching, or dust. (Arwood, 2020)

They are just expensive and therefore best suited to luxury and sports vehicles. However, ceramic brakes are terrible in cold weather. They can take a while to warm up, which can cause them to slip.

Metallic Brakes

Metallic brakes come in semi-metallic and fully metallic varieties depending on the application. You can find metallic brakes made with cast iron, steel, aluminum, and copper alloys mixed with graphite and other compounds. This construction gives these brake kits high durability and resiliency. (Arwood, 2020)

These brakes also sport the best stopping power on the market. They can handle any high-stress situation. As a result, professional race car drivers prefer them, with steel being the most sought-after due to its fantastic heat dissipation.

However, metal brakes also tend to be more abrasive, which means they produce more dust, noise, and wear faster than other brake types.

Close up of an Audi A4 B8.5 Bronze wheel with a red Brembo brake caliper rotor kit on

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

For more information now on how and when to buy a new brake system for your vehicle, here are a few commonly asked questions.

Q: How Often Should Brakes Be Replaced?

A: Brake lifetimes depend on several factors including your type of vehicle and driving habits. With that said, most brake pads will last up to 25,000 to 70,000 miles while rotors can do 30,000 to 70,000 miles. However, the average system will last only 35,000 miles. Thus, most brakes will last around 3 years if you drive around 28 miles per day.  

Q: What is Brake Fade?

A: Brake fade is when your brakes no longer generate enough friction to stop or slow your vehicle in a controlled manner. It is a sign of severe brake wear. You can fix it by either replacing the brakes or turning them (or machining off thin layers) to reduce the wear. (Car Bibles, 2022)

Q: Why Do Brakes Squeak When Braking?

A: The squeaking comes from brake parts rubbing against each other. This is normal and usually means your brakes are good. You can reduce the sound by switching to a quieter brake material such as organic or ceramic. However, you should get your brakes checked if the sound gets louder as that could mean the brakes are wearing out.

Conclusion

Brembo and Wilwood are two of the most popular car brake brands on the market today. Both offer premium quality and performance, but for different types of vehicles. Therefore, your choice between them often comes down to knowing which brake system offers the features you need at a price you can afford.

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References:

S197Danny

Auto Buyer Guru

The Drive

Best Car Brakes: Generate Reliable Stopping Power

Brake Experts

Brembo vs. Wilwood – Which is Better?

How to Know Which Brakes Pads to Buy: Complete Buyer’s Guide

Car Bibles

The Best Car Brakes (Review & Buying Guide)

Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

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