Best Brakes For Duramax – 2021 Review

| Last Updated: October 6, 2021

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Brakes are an essential part of any vehicle. We all know that a vehicle is entirely dependent upon the brakes to slow it down. And it’s not only the wheel brakes. The engine exhaust brake is also an effective means of slowing down engines. 

Duramax is a powerful diesel engine. It is manufactured by DMAX, which is a joint venture of General Motors and Isuzu. By far, the Duramax V8 engine is the company’s most successful product. Initially installed in the Chevrolet and GMC trucks, it is now a preferred model for medium-duty trucks, pickups, and vans. 

Being one of the best engines today, Duramax needs a reliable exhaust braking system to perform at its fullest. If you are a proud owner of this phenomenal engine, we’ll help you choose the right brakes. This article contains a detailed account of some of the best brakes for Duramax. Be sure to read till the end for a better insight into each product. 

Comparison Chart of the Best Brakes For Duramax

  • Comes ready to bolt on vehicle
  • Radial mount caliper brackets included
  • Compatible with electronic control systems
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  • Designed to address heat increase
  • Offers extra brake torque
  • Completely rust-resistant
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  • Best for the Money
  • Ideal for bigger wheels and tyres
  • Compatible with OE master cylinder output
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  • Best Exhaust Brakes for Duramax
  • Promises better engine breathing
  • Reduced brake wear
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  • No noise or dust
  • Designed to offer extra clearance
  • Five-layer brake hoses
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When is it Time to Replace My Brakes? How Long Do Brakes Last?

Brakes are responsible for keeping you and others around you safe while on the road. Since their function is vital, they require regular maintenance. They do wear out eventually. But the period a brake lasts for is mainly dependent on your usage.

Duramax vehicles have large bodies, so they are difficult to slow down because of heavy frames and large bodies, especially when going downhill. You cannot stop them from going out of control without extra effort from the braking system.

But when they are overused or used improperly, they are likely to overheat, wear out quickly, and eventually fail. When such a time arrives, you know that you require new brakes. Most exhaust brakes are made to last the lifetime of a car. 

Some high-quality stainless steel ones will last for five years. You can also keep an eye out for signs like rust, squealing sounds, bumpy deceleration, or engine overheating to determine when your Duramax brakes need replacement. 

What to Look For When Buying New Brakes For My Duramax?

Brakes are essential for the safety of any vehicle. Exhaust brakes serve as an added safety feature of any diesel-powered engine. Since diesel running vehicles are heavily loaded, these brakes provide an extra advantage by adding more deceleration power to the automobile's main brakes. But how do you determine a suitable kit for your Duramax? Here are some tips to help you out. 


It is very, very important to check the materials with which the brakes are crafted. Since you are trusting them with your life, you have to be completely sure that the unit is perfectly capable of handling the job assigned to it. 

For exhaust brakes, it is better to invest in a stainless steel material because it is rugged to withstand the harsh exhaust environment. For wheel brakes, look for a cast iron rotor, and meta backed pads. 

Computerized Brake Controller

A computerized brake controller automatically monitors the throttle pedal position. It is responsible for quickly warming up the engine even on cold starts. When the brakes are activated, it significantly improves the throttle response. 

Smart Lock Electronic Device

Nowadays, many brakes have the option of smart lock electronic devices. This feature automatically locks the torque converter clutch at a certain point and increases pressure in the transmission line while braking. Additionally, it prevents slips and extends the transmission life. 

Review of the Best Brakes For Duramax

All Duramax owners know that once you step off the throttle, there is little to no braking effect. To overcome this problem, many users opt to install an external device to restrict the engine's pumping action. It serves as an auxiliary braking system to support the vehicle’s main brakes. If you are also looking to replace your brakes or add an auxiliary one to your Duramax, here is a comprehensive review of some of Duramax's best brakes. 

Best Overall:
Wilwood TX6R Brake Kit


  • Every component ensures high performance
  • Comes with detailed installation instructions
  • Parts are engraved with handy mini directions
  • Versatile kit can easily fit in numerous vehicles
  • Very suitable for medium to heavy-duty vehicles


  • Has a somewhat short lifespan
  • DIY installation is a lengthy procedure

What Recent Buyers Report 

This kit boasts an amazingly satisfying halting potential. Buyers are raving about how instant and smooth its performance is. They report that it is a quality product that is crafted with some of the best materials. The construction is also very durable and can withstand the pressure of working in such testing conditions. Users are happy with their choice and definitely recommend it to others.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

Wilwood designed this brake kit to equip heavy-duty cars with a high-performance braking capacity. If you regularly worry about the state of your main brakes, you should definitely consider installing this unit in your vehicle. It significantly increases braking performance and gives you better control.

It is constructed with very high-quality materials like stainless steel and aluminum. These allow it to function reliably, even in the most adverse high heat conditions. It is a bolt-on kit that starts working as soon as installed. Additionally, it comes with all the required accessories and hardware to make its installation procedure a breeze.

Bottom Line

In all, this is a high performance brake kit that is suitable for high GVWR and class one to three armored vehicles. It is easy to install and functions very well. If you also want to supplement your main brakes with an auxiliary braking system to reduce wear and tear and gain better control over your vehicle, this is a must-have.

Power Stop Brake and Rotor Kit


  • Braking is very quiet and noiseless
  • Boasts an excellent heat dissipation
  • Features sturdy steel and ceramic construction
  • Rubberized shims ensure maximum functionality
  • Comes with a ceramic lubricant to ease installation


  • Rotors are a bit difficult to install
  • Compatibility chart reports some inaccurate data

What Recent Buyers Report 

Buyers who have been using this kit for some time like it for its exceptional performance. They say that it is crafted with sturdy and reliable components that give you a satisfying performance every time. The installation is easy, and the operation is noiseless.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This brake kit noticeably enhances the braking of a Duramax. Towing and mountain climbing with this installed is very easy. Often, when you make a small change, such as installing larger tires, it reduces the braking potential of your vehicle. So you need a superior performing system to keep up with your demands.

This kit is specially designed to tolerate high temperatures and brake torque. With sturdy construction, it can easily decelerate a downcoming hauling vehicle. It features drilled and slotted rotors that dissipate the heat effectively. The Duramax Performance Brake pads ensure the required brake torque to bring the vehicle to a complete stop.

Bottom Line

Mountain climbing or hauling, no matter what use you put your Duramax to, you will experience the performance with this kit installed. It is the right choice if you want quality, performance, durability, and affordability. With its superbly designed rotors and pads, this kit will bring you to a smooth stop every time you engage it.

Best for the Money:
Wilwood TC6R Brake Kit


  • Brake pads offer a better grip
  • Features large disks and rotors
  • Delivers a better stopping power
  • Visibly decreases the stopping distance
  • Ensures overall better handling of the car


  • Large size requires more installation space
  • You might need better suspension components

What Recent Buyers Report

Users really like the way it is put together. They say that it fits well, looks good, and works efficiently. Due to the large rotors, some customers faced difficulty while installing it on the front. However, the back installation is fairly easy. The overall impression of this kit is a positive one.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We find this kit to be very suitable for trucks and SUVs that run on twenty inches or more sized wheels. The large size and heavyweight require a highly efficient braking system. This kit from Wilwood is perfectly capable of providing an unsurpassed functionality that is needed.

It is engineered to cater to the pressing demands of a heavy-duty vehicle. It can not only handle heavyweights at great speeds but once engaged; it starts working immediately to decelerate the vehicle and bring it to a smooth halt.

Its efficiently clamping vane rotors and BP-10 compound pads come together to deliver the braking power necessary for controlling ultra-sized wheels and tires.

Bottom Line

If you own a heavy-duty vehicle like a truck or SUV, you should look at this kit. It is equipped with all the essential features that are a must for controlling it. It does what it advertises and excels at it. If you are looking for a big brake kit, this should be your choice.

Best Exhaust Brakes for Duramax:
Banks Exhaust Brake


  • Allows better engine breathing
  • One of the safest exhaust brakes
  • Can reduce the speed by fifty percent
  • Functions without the annoying braking noise
  • The computer-controlled braking system ensures efficient performance


  • Frequent use can cause overheating
  • Inappropriate use can cause engine failure

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers of this brake kit report that it is an excellent combination of safety and reliability. They say that it is the safest exhaust braking system that engages efficiently and prevents excessive exhaust overpressure. It is such a good choice that the number of diesel-powered vehicle owners opting to install it is increasing each passing day.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

There was no doubt about adding this unit to our list. This is a premium unit that is carefully engineered to supplement the main braking system. It is a computer-controlled system, so it carefully regulates the exhaust environment before and after its application.

This kit is so effective that it alone can reduce the speed of a downhill vehicle by around 52% without any support from the wheel brakes. It ensures more power benefits and fuel economy than other models available on the market.

Banks also strived hard to make this kit the safest there is. It is equipped with safeguards that carefully monitor and prevent exhaust overpressure. It also features the Smart Lock. This is an electronic gadget that is designed to automatically lock the torque converter clutch in the desired position and increases the pressure exerted on the transmission line during braking to improve its holding capacity.

Bottom Line

Banks Exhaust Brake is a name that means safety. Contrary to what most people believe, exhaust brakes are actually quite efficient and not risky. This product is proof of that. If you are interested in installing an efficient exhaust brake in your Duramax, this is the best you can get.

Editor’s Pick:
Power Stop Duramax Performance Brake & Caliper Kit


  • Fairly easy to install
  • Looks great on the vehicle
  • Operation is free of annoying noise
  • Equipped with sturdy ceramic calipers
  • Comes with a mounting bracket and the necessary hardware


  • Bolts are small and weak
  • May not come with bleeder pads

What Recent Buyers Report 

People who have been using this kit for a while are quite impressed with its performance. At first, they felt off, but after some break-in adjustments and some driving around, they work fine. Some buyers report that its performance is better than the stock ones, so purchasing them worked out in their favor.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This product is a complete package. It contains high-quality rotors that are cross-drilled and slotted rotors, brake calipers that are finished with a durable red powder-coated, and D360 ceramic pads infused with carbon-fiber for extreme and reliable performance. It is quite easy to install as it is supplied with all the hardware required for installation.

It is certainly a step ahead of any stock brake kit. It not only looks good but also performs way better than the original. The pads offer more resistance without producing any irritating noise or dust.

The kit is well-engineered to fulfill heavy-duty specifications. It is constructed with high-quality materials and components. In a nutshell, it is a fast, easy, and affordable means of providing you with a better braking experience.

Bottom Line

Duramax is a heavy-duty engine that requires an efficient braking system to cut down its speed. In this kit, you will find the perfect combination of quality, efficiency, functionality, looks, and affordability. It is very easy to install, and once installed, it will give you an excellent service for a longer period of time.

Advantages of Investing in Quality Brakes

Quality brakes are the epitome of safety. Contrary to the common belief, an exhaust braking system is also a must-have for any heavy-duty vehicle, especially for those who tow trailers and other heavy loads. Controlling your speed with such enormous loads is indeed difficult. One wrong move and your brake pads will pay dearly for it. That’s why you need a quality braking system to assist and safeguard you on the road. If you are still doubtful, here are some advantages of investing in quality brakes. 

Ease of Installation

Quality brakes are fairly easy to install. They are versatile units that retrofit at an economical cost. They are simple to use with an easy on-and-off mechanism for an all or nothing effect.

Sturdy Construction 

When you purchase a prime unit, you will instantly notice that it features a sturdy construction. Exhaust brakes are designed to operate under the harsh conditions of the exhaust, so they are crafted from the most rugged materials. The same goes for wheel brakes. The construction is also very solid, as any minor shortcoming can cost you your vehicle. 

Offer Better Control

High-performance exhaust brakes work in combination with the main brakes to grant you better control over the vehicle speed. Together, they can decelerate the automobile, reduce the brake heat, act as a reserve, reduce the brake wear, and help in controlling downhill speed.

Noiseless Operation

One big advantage of investing in quality brakes is their noiseless operation. Of course, their use is dependent upon the driver’s discretion. Still, they do not contribute to any unnecessary noise pollution. 

Reduce Brake Pad Wear and Tear

When you invest in quality brakes, you also buy a longer life for your brake pads with them. With high-quality construction, the brakes do not have to put up much resistance; hence their wear and tear are significantly reduced. 


Now you know everything about the best brakes for Duramax. Adding one to your vehicle will improve its performance and ensure that you are completely safe on the road.

We have also reviewed some of the best products for you to analyze and choose from. These units are very durable and will serve you with excellent performance for a longer period.

Sean comes from the forums actually and drives an OBS Ford. He writes fantastic DIYs and knows his way around a camera, too. We keep him caffeinated and away from DPF filters to avoid another rant about recent emissions restrictions.