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Shopping for brakes can be a daunting challenge. While many maintenance purchases are relatively cheap, easy, and short term alterations to make to your vehicle, brakes are costly, time consuming, and something which will remain on your car for thousands of miles. Of course, if you are not satisfied, you can always replace the brakes. But with being such a major and long term decision, people often spend a significant amount of time when deciding which brakes are best for their needs.

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Do rotors and pads need to be replaced at the same time?

Many mechanics will suggest yes, but the answer is no. Both pads and rotors have a minimum thickness where they are due for replacement. This measurement varies with brands, models, and years, so consult a shop manual or inquire at the dealer for when your brakes should be replaced.

Often times, owners will go through two or three sets of brake pads for one set of rotors. Unless the rotors have deep cut grooves, a noticeable lip around the edge, or exhibit signs of warping, they do not need to be replaced so long as they are thick enough for your model's specification.


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As with any brake job, whether you are installing new pads, new rotors, or both, the brakes must be properly bedded. The bedding process involves stopping the car from 60-10mph in a straight line, then repeating this process another ten times. Do not come to a complete stop, do not turn the wheel while braking, and repeat the processes with minimal cool down time between cycles. This ensures the pads are seated in the calipers properly and that the contact surface of the pad is perfectly parallel to the rotor and clear of any chemicals or contaminants.

 

How do you decide which brakes are best?

There are two main components to brakes, the pads and the rotors. Deciding on what best suits your needs will be entirely dependent on your preferences, driving style, and wallet.

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Rotors

There are numerous options for brake rotors. However, discs are discs. Dimpled and drilled rotors help with cooling, slotted rotors help with clearing the pads and removing water. Various manufacturing casting techniques and materials will also allow the rotors to better resist warping. For those with performance in mind, it would be ideal to seek a performance rotor for high-heat cracking resistance and cooling. But for the daily driver, most rotors will suffice.
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Ate

If you live in the north with frequently salted roads, Ate rotors should be in your consideration. With their MetaCote protective coating, these discs are designs to be resilient to dirt, salt, and other chemicals, while also quick to shed water for a smooth clean rotor surface. Ate also offers slotted rotors for those seeking performance benefits.

 

Brembo

If you know anything about cars, chances are that you have heard the name Brembo before. They are a world leader in brake calipers and come as standard equipment on many performance vehicles. That being said, many will argue whether or not their rotors are the best option available. If you are looking for performance, Brembo is a solid choice that you will likely be satisfied with. However, they are not the only performance rotor available.

 

Elevate

Elevate is slowly becoming known as the "AMG of Volvo." With performance being their main goal, their slotted discs are designed to shave contaminants off of the brake pads and allow water to quickly run off the rotor. While also being a pricier option, the looks and performance benefits far outweigh the costs.

 

Eurospare

Eurospare is a brand of Hotbray Ltd. While another lesser known company, they are a parts supplier for Jaguar and Land Rover. Serving as another quality OEM replacement brake disc, Eurospare rotors can be purchased for a great price.

 

Genuine Volvo

For those who are happy with the stock brakes on their car, than Genuine Volvo replacements will not be a letdown. Naturally, being what Volvo equipped their car with from the factory, these rotors are tested and true, perfectly suiting the anticipated needs of your vehicle. However, Volvo does not manufacture their own rotors. On the contrary, they outsource to other suppliers. Therefore, it is likely your Volvo box will contain rotors made by Zimmerman, Bosch, ATE, etc.

 

Meyle

Meyle is a German brand, but now outsources to China for rotor production. While their rotors are nothing special, they suffice as a quality aftermarket replacement for a great price and have been proven to be sufficient for occasional track use.

 

Pagid

Pagid is an aftermarket supplier of both smooth and dimpled rotors. While Pagid may not be a household name, they are another brand which outsources to many vehicle manufactures. Giving the option for both smooth and dimpled rotors, stopping power is superb and they look cool too! But be warned, dimpled and drilled rotors will make a clicking noise as air gets squeezed through the holes on the disc. If you prefer your rotors remain silent, dimpled rotors should be avoided.

 

Stop Tech

Stop Tech has only been around for a few years, but their rotors are some of the best in the businesses. Designed for performance, they are less likely to warp and more efficient at cooling. However, obtaining those performance benefits will come at a sacrifice to your wallet.

 

Zimmerman

Zimmerman is another manufacturer of OEM quality rotors. Many manufactures re-brand Zimmerman rotors as their own. If you are looking for brake disc replacements without hurting your wallet, but wishing to maintain the factory braking quality, Zimmerman is your best choice.

 

Pads

Brake pads, more so than rotors, are where you will really notice a difference in the stopping power of your car. There are multiple different pad compounds available from FCP Euro, each one offering different braking abilities, noise levels, and magnitudes of brake dust. The following list compares the pad options which FCP Euro offers for your Volvo.
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Akebono

Akebono is an OEM equivalent pad with a ceramic compound. Ceramic pads offer less dust with a stronger bite and longer life. If you are looking for a quality replacement to your original pads, Akebono is a quality choice.

 

Ate

Ate produces many of the Volvo calipers, so it would only be fitting to use Ate pads. However, these OEM quality pads are only available for the Volvos of yesterday, if you drive a more modern Volvo, you will have to consider other brands.

 

Bosch

Their semi metallic brake pads are often re-branded as Genuine Volvo. If you are seeking a direct replacement for your factory pads, then look no further. Bosch is a household name in the car community and all of their products are known for superior quality.

Brembo

Unlike Brembo's superior calipers, Brembo brake pad selection for Volvos are only a slightly better-than-OEM replacement. If you were content with the stopping abilities of your stock brakes, Brembos will not disappoint.

 

Elevate

Elevate offers performance brake pads both for factory and aftermarket calipers. Designed to improve performance, these pads give a sharper bite without being so aggressive that they easily warp the rotors. However, like other performance brake pad options, there are drawbacks for acquiring the improved braking ability. Elevate brake pads shed a fair amount of dust over the course of time. While no worse than OEM pads, do not expect to leave an autocross event with clean wheels.

 

Genuine Volvo

If you prefer receiving brake pads in a Volvo box, Genuine Volvo pads will have the same quality that came on your Volvo from the factory. However, Volvo outsources for pad manufacturing so do not be surprised if you open the box and find that the pads are actually made by Bosch, Sachs, etc.

 

Hawk

Hawk ceramic brake pads are some of the best in the businesses. Producing less than half the dust as original Volvo pads, Hawk pads will also improve your braking bite. Designed for performance, these pads will stop your car faster and are less likely to fade. However, the performance benefits come with a sacrifice of noise. The ceramic material can cause louder than usual grinding noises as they slow the car down during normal driving.

 

Jurid

Jurid brake pads are made in India with a semi metallic compound that is equal to Genuine Volvo brake pads. Maintaining the factory stopping ability, Jurid is another quality brand if you are shopping on a budget.

 

Meyle

Another OEM quality replacement, Meyle pads will get the job done for a great price. If you are simply using your car for commuting and expect to be riding the brakes through crawling traffic, Meyle pads are a great option.

 

Mintex

Mintex is a brand which helped Jaguar win the Lemans. These aftermarket pads are claimed to offer OEM pad stopping ability, if not better.

 

Pagid

Pagid brake pads are also an OEM equivalent pad. Manufactured in the UK, the semi metallic compound will stop your vehicle with the same power the original Volvo pads provided.

 

Textar

Textar is another OEM equivalent replacement and often times the supplier for many auto manufacturers. For those looking to maintain the factory braking quality, Textar's price is hard to beat for the quality and material.

 

TRW

TRW is yet another OEM equivalent manufacturer of brake pads. If you are satisfied with your car's factory stopping ability, these pads will offer that same braking quality without breaking the bank.

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No matter what pads you choose, do not forget to purchased a tube of brake pad lubricant. Applying this grease to the back of pads prevents an unnecessary friction which results in squealing brakes. FCP Euro offers a variety of brake pad lubricants.

Armed with this knowledge about the various brake pad and rotor options, you will hopefully be able to make an educated decision when purchasing replacement brakes. Whether you are buying a packaged kit from FCP Euro or piecing together your preferred pads and rotors, remember that all products offered by FCP Euro have been tested and proven. They stand behind the quality of their offered products and back all brakes with a lifetime warranty.

You read that right, a lifetime warranty on wearable items like brakes! That means the brakes you are buying today could be the last brakes you ever buy for your car.

 


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Written by :
Michael Hallock

Michael lives in Dahlonega, GA where he works full time as manager of an accounts receivable department. Despite a bachelors in New Media Arts, his true passion is in modifying and maintaining the cars that he and his wife own; Volvo for life. Many in the Volvo community might recognize his screen name, MyNameIdeasWereTaken.


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