Out of the many features in our cars, brakes are certainly taken for granted. In the past few decades, your car’s ability to brake have vastly improved, leading to safer driving conditions and, in turn, saving lives. Yet, it is still important to have a general knowledge of their structure and how they work.
How Car Disc Brakes Work
Brakes work in a pretty elementary way.
When you step on the brake pedal, the pressure is transferred via hydraulics to the brake pads in all of the tyres. This pressure forces the brake pad against the wheel creating friction between the two surfaces.
This means that the rotational kinetic energy (the energy from the tyre’s circular movement) is converted to heat and in turn the car decelerates. There are currently two types of brakes, each working in slightly different ways.
Read more about them here.
Drum Versus Disc Brake
Drum brakes are the older of the two, and are named due to their drum-like appearance. The brake is comprised of the self-adjusting system and brake shoes, which are housed inside a metal drum and expand when you step on the brake pedal, creating the necessary friction to reduce speed.
Due to the metal housing, drum brakes may heat up when going downhill or constantly decelerating from high speeds, which causes them to wear out quickly. Obviously, this means there are certain safety concerns for drum brakes.
Find more information about drum brakes here.
With regard to costs of drum brakes, they are typically around £20 for a standard quality and £30 for the shoe.
Car Disc brakes differentiate themselves by being much more efficient. They are designed better than the drum brakes in that they do not use a metal housing and therefore transfer heat more effectively. Instead of shoes, they use calipers and rotors to slow the tyre’s rotation.
When you press on the brake pedal, the pressure is sent to the caliper which squeezes the brake rotors. Due to their better ability when heated, it makes sense that they were first utilized for racing cars. As they became cheaper to produce, they were integrated into regular consumers’ cars.
Disc brake tend to run from £30-40 and the calipers are an additional £30-40.
What Brakes Are in My Car?
Due to the way brake rotors work (most of the braking power being placed on the front tyres), most cars now have disc brakes in the front tyres and drum brakes in the back tyres, unless it is a high-performance vehicle which will usually have four disc brakes. The split between the disc and drum brakes is meant to save the consumer money.
For both the actual part and installation, drum brakes are cheaper than disc brakes. It is also important to note that brakes have progressed enough that having drum brakes is completely safe. However, should a car owner want to convert the drum break to disc brake, there are kits available to switch the system. Also, remember to check your brakes every 50,000 miles (or however long your owner’s manual suggests).
Hopefully you learned new information about brakes and feel more intelligent about your car.
The Engie Team