Just last week, I discussed the awesome braking performance of EBC’s kevlar-ceramic high-performance Green Stuff Brake pads. These pads truly live up to the hype, as they have a grip hard enough that you can actually feel the disc being clamped beneath your foot. But, if that is the case, why is it that they are now sitting in a box beneath my desk?
Clearly it’s not due to performance. And for many people who I’ve talked to, brake squeak and dust isn’t an issue with EBC Green Stuff. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t the case for me. Is it my driving style? Perhaps some quirk in my 9-3’s brake assembly? An issue with the rotors (even though my repair shop changed them twice)? Or maybe it’s just environmental conditions such as ambient temperature or humidity? Either way, the squeak was really bothering me, and there was a bit much dust. Luckily, I was due for an oil change and had one final chance to see if the mechanic had any suggestions as to what I could do. That is when he suggested I swap out the EBCs for a pair of Akebonos.
I have got to admit, that initially I was skeptical. By switching to Akebonos, I’d lose the wide-operating temperature of the EBC brakes for a fully Ceramic set that generally requires to be “heated up” before achieving optimum performance. But, would it truly pose a problem for me? And is it possible they may even perform better in my case? My hesitation was enough that I was close to refusing his offer, but then it hit me: I have started down this road towards customizing my Saab for a reason. And once the day comes that I have my own car maintenance facility (commonly known as a “garage”) and a non-comedic collection of tools, I need to be prepared to do something bold: and that is to experiment. So, I gave them the go-ahead. Later that afternoon, it was time to drive home. I could tell right away that these brake pads are completely different animals. That sudden “vice grip” feeling is completely gone. The pedal feel is a bit softer on initial pressing for sure, but harder pushes are met with a much firmer clamp that is far better than the OEM pads. Yes, these surely represent a considerable departure from the what I have come to expect with the EBC pads. Does that mean they inferior? Absolutely not, just — different. After finishing the break-in period I have now concluded deciding between two sets of brake pads is surprisingly difficult. It’s kind of like comparing a fine brie to a bright red tomato. If you can imagine a 3D graph, with pedal pressure, brake pad temperature, and the amount of resistance on the pedal as each of the axes: you’d find a different graph for each of these pads. And even then, you just don’t have a complete picture, as there is a tactile awareness of the pad’s surface pressing against the rotor that, by virtue of incredible automotive engineering, the driver can actually perceive. While I miss the immediately firm grip of the Green Stuff — I actually like the feel of these pads. And of course: there is absolutely no break squeak, and no dust. My recommendation? Both EBC and Akebono make fine brake pads, and both are very much worth a try. In terms of safety, I’ve found the Akebono pads have no problem bringing my car to a full-stop. But, you have to apply pressure differently than with the EBC pads. There was one point when I was getting used to the new pads, I was expecting the car to slow down more than it did during hard cornering (which was rather alarming as I was cornering along a concrete barrier). But, now, I find myself corning just as fast as I did with the Green Stuff. So, as another American expression would go: “Your mileage may vary”.