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Friday, September 17, 2021

Here's What I've Learned After Changing My Mazda CX-5's Brake Pads From Stock To Brembo Ceramic

This is outside the usual reporting cycle of our long-term Mazda CX-5 AWD Sport Diesel which is typically done each time it undergoes Preventive Maintenance Service or PMS, but this is a special occasion. It’s special because I happen to change the brake pads, and that’s the focus of this story.

Truth be told, my brake pads weren’t due for replacement. The Mazda stock pads are pretty robust in terms of construction, and coupled with the fact that I’m pretty light on the pedal meant my pads were as thick as Mark Villar’s face.

However, when Brembo’s official Philippine distributor, Auto Performance PH approached me to review their line of Premium Ceramic Brake Pads, there was only one choice. By default, the CX-5 was getting the Brembo treatment.

With an SRP of P 9,250 for a set of both front and rear pads (for ordering info, you can reach them via Facebook Messenger), it’s not exactly cheap, but they do promise “low dust, low noise with longer wear and a positive brake pedal feel.” Basically, it’s everything you want in a set of pads. An added bonus is that the pads are colored red too—perfect if you want a racy look and feel peeking out of those 19-inch wheels.

Now, I’ve driven about 120 kilometers or so on the new pads, but they’re mostly on the highway so Brembo says they’re not completely broken in (they recommend about 100 kilometers in stop-and-go traffic). Still, I’m happy to report that the brake pedal engagement does feel more progressive, and the bite, at least subjectively feels better compared to the stock pads. Whereas previously, the CX-5 needs to reach about half way through the brake pedal stroke to get decent bite in, these feel better about a fifth or a quarter of the way in.

On the flip side, they do produce more dust now. As to how much more dust, we’ll see after they’ve been broken in and subjected to stop-and-go traffic.

So, while my full feedback on the performance of the Brembo Premium Ceramic Pads is still up in the air, I can at least tell you about my installation experience. Mazda owners should read on because you’ll learn something new here.

The pads were sent straight to the nearest Brembo authorized retailer and installer near my house, and that’s Vindicated Motorsports in Sto. Nino, Marikina. Owner Lawrence Makiramdam runs a small, tight operation that specializes in off-road rigs (he knows them like the back of his hand). Imagine his surprise though seeing a CX-5 approach the driveway of his shop.

Before we start, Lawrence tells me that they typically need to bleed the brakes to accommodate the thicker Brembo Premium Ceramic pads. In the case of the CX-5 though, it came to everyone’s surprise that there was no need. The pads went straight in. It took less than 30 minutes to jack up the car, remove the stock pads, and install the new pads. No fuss, no drama.

That said, we did encounter a bit of a problem towards the back of the CX-5, and this is a caveat to all Mazda owners out there rocking EPBs or Electronic Parking Brakes.

Normally, replacing the rear pads require just jacking up the car, putting them on stands, and putting the hand brake down. In the case of the CX-5, and any other Mazda equipped with an EPB, it requires an additional step.

In order to increase the clearance between the calipers to accommodate the new pads, Mazda EPBs have to be put in a service or maintenance mode. This must be done before taking the caliper apart.

This is how to do it:
  1. Switch the ignition ON (engine off).
  2. Release the electric parking brake.
  3. Switch the ignition to OFF and then switch the ignition to ON within 5 seconds while pressing down the EPB switch and fully depress the accelerator pedal at the same time.
  4. Verify that the (P!) warning light is illuminated in an amber color and the mode is switched to maintenance mode.
  5. Switch the ignition to OFF.
Once the pads have been replaced, the EPB remains in service or maintenance mode. So, this is how you exit it:
  1. Switch the ignition to ON - Press the START button twice. (Once to enter Accessory mode and again to turn the ignition system to ON.
  2. Press the accelerator (gas) pedal all the way down and also pull up on the EPB switch. Continue pushing the accelerator pedal all the way down and hold up the EPB switch while completing the next step.
  3. Press the START button three times rapidly.
  4. You should hear the electric actuator motors moving out to meet the caliper pistons for a few seconds.
  5. Check to see if the yellow (P!) warning light has turned off on the tachometer (RPM gauge).
  6. Release the accelerator pedal and let go of the EPB switch.
  7. Try setting the parking brake by pushing on the brake pedal and then lift up the EPB switch. The parking brake should activate and you'll see the usual red indicator light on the speedometer gauge.

If done correctly, there’s no need to bleed the rear brakes because again, the Brembo pads fit straight in like they were OEM.

Sadly, we didn’t realize it until we started taking the rear caliper assembly apart and the caliper wouldn’t clear the new pads. This necessitated us having to bleed the braking system. The entire system worked well, but to be sure, I had the EPB system re-checked by a Mazda service technician a week later. It required a EPB reset and recalibration which took an hour.

It sounds like a bit of a hassle, but it was a learning experience for everyone concerned. It’s the result of vehicles having more and more standard tech put in, and it’s certainly something that’ll face car repair shops and car owners alike in the future.


  1. You got my attention at "as thick as mark villar's face" ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

  2. Hi do you think this is better than the mazda pads, casa price for their brake pads is 16k almost twice the price of this brembo.
    Thank you in advance.

    1. I haven't fully broken in my pads yet, but so far it does have a better feel than the stock OE pads. On the flipside, it is a bit dustier than the stock pads. Once I've broken it in, I'll do an update.

    2. Thank you for the response, Appreciate it, I change my pads 3x already due to driving habits

    3. Damn, should have known this two months ago, i just had my rear brake pads changed in my CX-9 for 9k. Brembo would have saved my wallet.

  3. So if my M3 have a manual parking brake, I don't have to take the extra step/precaution you've mentioned?

    1. No need for the extra step. But precaution is that modern Mazdas have a screw-in type rear caliper piston that requires a special tool to turn them back or you may be able to use a pair of needle nose pliers. Do not use a "C" clamp to try and compress back the pistons.


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