Your brakes are the most important component of your vehicle. Granted, there are other important parts which are required to even get your vehicle in motion before you have to worry about stopping it; however, as far as safety is concerned, your brakes are at the top of the list. If they fail, bad things happen. As such, this is one of the key areas where it pays to go with quality over economy. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, or even someone who prefers that his/her repair shop use only certain brands of parts, here is a look at the best aftermarket brake parts manufacturers. If you’re in need of brake parts, these are the brands you should be looking into.

1. Brembo

Brembo is so good that many auto manufacturers offer Brembo brake parts as upgrades on their factory brands. They’ve recently joined Ford’s Preferred Suppliers list, and they have a long-standing history with General Motors and Chrysler as well. They are makers mostly of high-performance brake parts, which means they’re not cheap. It also means that you may not want to put them on your Chevy Cobalt. But if you’re into racing, have a sports car, or simply want a nice upgrade to your factory brakes, Brembo is the way to go.

2. Akebono

Akebono is available at most Advance and CARQUEST auto parts stores. They make a full line of parts, including front and rear calipers, brake pads, and drum brake parts, including parking brake. They are the originator of ceramic brake technology and are still the largest OEM friction pad suppliers. Their Ultra Performance line is one of the best at eliminating brake dust, and successfully addresses the performance-specific requirements of many European makes.

3. Bendix

Since acquiring French engineer Henri Perrot’s shoe-brake patents in 1924, Bendix has been making some of the best brake parts in the world. They manufacture both metallic and ceramic brake pads, as well as hydraulic brake parts and hardware. The Bendix TitaniuMetallic II line boasts a break-in period of only 50 stops before the coating wears off, compared to an average 200 stops from other brands. Bendix CQ is the ceramic line, and it is designed to meet original equipment vehicle specifications, with less brake dust and smoother performance. Bendix is available in many parts stores across North America.

4. Centric

The downside to Centric brake parts is that they don’t sell directly to the consumer. That means you’ll need to find a distributor who carries their line if you want to test these brakes out. Most experts agree, however, that these brakes are worth the extra effort to get a hold of. They have two performance divisions, Power Slot and Stop Tech. Power Slot is manufactured for trucks, SUVs, and severe-duty vehicles, while Stop Tech is more for the performance and racing-based vehicles. Like Brembo, Centric sticks to the performance side of braking.

5. Raybestos

Raybestos makes the Napa line of brakes, so if you’re interested in Raybestos that’s where you’ll want to go. As for quality, they are right up there with the big boys regarding OEM replacement parts on most vehicles. They don’t offer much in the way of a performance line, but the Napa Ceramix line is one of the best aftermarket pads available. They are trusted enough that they’ve become one of the leading brake part manufacturers to be used and installed in service shops across the country.