Prius is one of those cars that I rave about to all the haters out there. One thing that I love to tell them is about how ridiculously cheap it is to maintain it. People often tell me that the only reason it is so cheap to maintain is because I am an ASE certified tech who can work on my own vehicles. While this is true, it does not mean that people still cannot make cost effective decisions when it comes to maintenance.
To set the premise of why I am taking the time to explain these options I want you to think about how often you really have to replace the brake pads on your Prius and what the costs really are. This way you can make a more informed decision that will lead to better brake life, reduced noise and provide you with the best solution. By the way please use brake and not break, these are two completely different things.
Original Equipment - I went to the Toyota dealer
Most people think of going to the dealer and it is going to cost a ton of money. While this could be true with some things such as replacing a hybrid battery, in other cases the dealer is really your best option. Here is why. Breaking down a basic brake job at the dealer. Most dealers that I know are charging $250 per axle for a brake job. Ludicrous you say? Maybe not. When the brake pads are changed and the rotors are machined you get original equipment parts and factory trained tech service, and for your Prius really, only the best will do.
Not all brake pads are created equal, and in another segment I will cover the difference between the brake pads a person could purchase. Know that your Prius requires ceramic brake pads and that is the option you need to choose if you are going to do this yourself. Since we are at the dealer in this part of the story, we now know that OE pads are ceramic and that is what will be going back on the car with this brake job.
A characteristic of ceramic pads are the ability to wear really well over long periods of time meaning that your Prius is doing what it needs to and be less of a burden on maintenance costs. Factory brake pads will have the right material makeup which will keep noise down and also provide you with the best stopping performance out of the pad. It was designed for that car, it should be used on it in order to keep it driving the way it was intended.
Total break down on the the dealer brakes. Per axle it will cost you about .0020 cents per mile if you are changing out at 120,000 miles. Pretty low cost and you are getting an exact replacement part.
Akebono - the first choice in aftermarket parts.
If you have read my article on choosing the right engine oil for your Toyota Prius, then you will know that not all oils are the same even though they are lubricants. Brake pads are similar in that way, but if you are going to choose an aftermarket option, make sure you know what is best for your vehicle.
Akebono brake pads are phenomenal. I have had an opportunity to chat with the company about brake pads and specifically about Prius pads. Akebono takes making brake pads very seriously. They have gotten as close to a factory formulation as they can without looking at a spec sheet from the engineers at Toyota. They test and refine their brake pads to a very high standard to ensure a “factory like” feel and performance.
The downside is dealerships do not like you to bring in your own parts, so finding a trusted mechanic can be a bit of an issue. Or even one that knows about and installs Akebono. Should you know of a tech or shop that will do that for you, take it from me the extra cost is worth it. I have used Akebono pads on more than just a Prius. I have put them on Honda vehicles as well with excellent results. While cheaper, it is tough to say what the cost could be due to the fact all shops have a different pricing structure when it comes to bidding jobs. Expect to be around the $200 mark for an acceptable pad replacement and rotor machine job.
Adaptive 1 - my personal second choice
Adaptive 1 brake pads were shown to me by a guy that I work with. He teaches the brakes portion of the class at the school I teach at. Once I took at look at the NAPA brand Adaptive One brake pads I found they are of great quality. NAPA is pretty proud of them though, they can be even more expensive than a set of Akebono brake pads, and they do not have the testing and research behind them.
I have installed these pads on many Toyota and Honda vehicles with no complaints from the customer. My personal opinion is that if they are your only option, they are a decent one.
I personally love factory parts. I know that many people are also wanting a factory fit and finish to their Prius. I know the calculated cost of the dealer, so even if I were not going to do it my self, the cost of replacement is so low, it would be ridiculous not to do it there. If I were doing it myself and the Akebono pads were cheaper and available, I would do that. Most aging cars may not have parts in stock at the dealer anyways. Use this knowledge wisely and take your car in to the dealer. You will be happy you did.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading ways to keep your Prius health and doing it for less. Check out my other story 3 Top Tire Brands You Should Consider For Your Toyota Prius to find even more ways to make that fuel sipper go the extra mile.
Also Watch 5 Things To Know About Toyota Prius Battery Maintain it Well and Click to Subscribe to Torque News Youtube Channel for Daily Toyota Prius and Automotive News.
Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He is an automotive technology instructor at Columbia Basin College. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and at Certified Consulting.