The Differences Between Brake Shoes vs Brake Pads

All automobiles have a braking system, which contains either brake shoes or pads. Depending on the type of vehicle, it may have a drum or disc brake system. Brake shoes are a part of the drum brake, while pads belong to the disc brake. Is there any disparity between brake shoes vs brake pads?

Basically, both these components do the same thing—slowing down and stopping a vehicle—although their design and working mechanism are slightly different from each other. We’re going to discuss how they differ while doing the same thing.

Brake Shoes vs Brake Pads: The Differences

In a disc brake, the pads exert pressure on the rotor (a rotating disc) to slow down the vehicle and stop it. The brake shoes do the same job in a drum brake, but by applying pressure on a cylindrical rotating unit.

difference between brake pads and shoes
Brake shoes are a part of drum braking system. (Photo Source: amazon)

Modern vehicles have a disc braking system, while the brake shoes are a part of old vehicles. Drum brakes have been used since the invention of automobiles, but the disc system was a later invention, making its debut toward the end of the nineteenth century.

The main points of difference between brake pads and shoes are:


The front-wheel axle is the place where the brake pads lodge. But brake shoes are placed in the rear axle, so you will never find a drum brake in a front-wheel-drive car.

In fact, disc brakes can be found in four-wheel-drive vehicles too (where each of the four wheels uses a disc brake) but you will never find drum brakes in a front-wheel-drive car.



Brake pads are better than brake shoes for stopping a vehicle because they are more heat-resistant and keep frictions away from the disc. They respond well in tricky conditions, like wet and snowy surfaces.

Brake pads are more heat resistant, which makes them perfect for the front axle of vehicles. Because of this, brake pads have a longer lifespan than brake shoes.

Replacing the brake pads is easier than brake shoes. Anyone with general mechanical knowledge can change the defected pads at home.


Both the pads and shoes are made of steel with one side having a layer of frictional material. However, brake pads last longer than brake shoes because of their excellent resistance to heat. The brake shoes have one advantage though, as they can be recycled.

brake shoes vs brake pads
Brake pads last longer. (Photo Source: ebay)


The only downside of the pads in this brake shoes vs brake pads comparison is the cost. Brake shoes are less expensive because they are recyclable into new shoes or other automotive parts. A new brake pad costs almost half as a new brake pad.

Remember that you cannot use both drum and disc braking systems together in a vehicle. So, if you want to buy a second-hand vehicle, don’t forget to inquire about the braking system. You may not want to deal with the less efficient and less durable brake shoes.