In our last article, we went over the basics. Now that you know how brakes work, let’s talk about the different types.
The front brakes play a greater part in stopping the car than the rear ones, because braking throws the car weight forward on to the front wheels. Many cars therefore have disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear. The basic function is essentially the same, but the parts are a little different.
Disk brakes have a brake disc, a brake caliper, and a brake pad. When the pedal is depressed by the driver, the hydraulic fluid from the master cylinder causes the caliper to press the brake pad against the disc. This creates friction, which converts the kinetic energy into heat and stops the wheel.
Drum brakes use friction in a slightly different way. They have a brake drum and brake shoes with friction linings. The hollow drum turns with the wheel but, when the brake pedal is pushed, a hydraulic cylinder pushes the friction linings of the brake shoes against the inner surface of the brake drum. This creates friction which slows the wheel.
Many modern cars have disc brakes on the front wheels and drum brakes on the rear wheels. More expensive models may have disc brakes on all four wheels. Only very old or very small cars tend to have drum brakes on all four wheels. The rotor attached to the front wheel and the drum attached to the rear wheel rotate along with the wheel when the brakes are not in use. But the pads and rotors are expendable, and will eventually have to be replaced.
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