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Types Of Brakes: A Comprehensive Guide

Imagine a car with no brakes. That’s a premise for the latest in the Final Destination series, isn’t it? That’s because once you have a car that does not have a brake and you speed up, the chances of you crashing are very high. Given this, braking systems are one of the most crucial parts of a car, and considering their importance, its unfortunate that the general awareness and information around braking systems and types of brakes is low. In this blog, we will look at the types of brakes, how they work, their relative merits and demerits, and quickly, we’ll look at which one would be the best for your car. 

Now before we get into the types of brakes, its important to know the parts of a braking system of a car. Lets take a quick look at it and then proceed to the topic of discussion. 

Parts of a car braking system

Following are the parts involved in the braking system of a car. 

  • Brake pedal.
  • Master cylinder
  • Brake drum (in drum brake systems)
  • Brake discs (in disc brake systems)
  • Brake calipers.
  • Brake pistons.
  • Servos
  • Brake pads.
  • Brake shoes.
  • Emergency brake

All of these components work together under a linear system to transfer the power from the brake pedal down to the pistons and the calipers that use friction to stop the wheel rotors.

Now, we will look into the types of brakes. 

The many types of brakes for cars

In braking systems, there are two main types of brakes, whereas two additional safety features are also considered as brake types, since vehicles and their trims may come with one of them, both of them, or neither of them. Let’s start with the two basic brake types. 

Drum brakes

Drum brakes, as the name implies, consist of a drum attached to the inside of a wheel, with two brake pads facing outward towards the wheel. When the brake pedal is depressed, the brake fluid goes from the master cylinder to servos, which hydraulicallt expand the brake drum, forcing the brake pads into contact with the wheel rotor. This force of friction allows for a car to be stopped in time, and when the brake pedal is released, the brake drum goes into its normal position and the brake pads cease to be in contact with the wheel rotor. 

However, it is important to note here that drum brakes are considered older technology, and have been in use for a very long time. Newer, better and more efficient braking systems have been developed, and while drum brakes have nearly been phased out in countries like USA, Canada, Europe, Japan, several developing countries still have base models or trim levels that offer drum brakes as standard. 

The merits of a drum brake include the fact that drum brakes are cheaper to install, manufacture and maintain, which makes it a great addition to a base model car. Drum brakes are also self-adjustable, which means that they need as frequent realignment as other brake types like discs might require. 

On the other hand, the demerits of drum brakes are obvious considering their age. They are very much less efficient in stopping cars than disc brakes, and heavier vehicles may experience even more braking issues with drum brakes on board. They also are more prone to overheating and fading, which means that during heavy usage, the driver may suddenly feel the brakes go out, losing their performance drastically. They can also lock, which can be extremely dangerous in a low-traction situation where the car may start skidding. 

Disc brakes

Disc brakes represent the massive way ahead automobile braking technology has come, especially since drums are now considered technically obsolete and inefficient. Disc brakes, as their name suggests, work by a disc that attaches to the wheel rotor and uses the same working concept as drum brakes i.e. friction. However, disc brakes are considered much more efficient since they utilize an entire disc to slow down the wheel rotor (which comes into contact once the brake pedal is pushed). This means that you get much better heat dissipation, performance and efficiency out of discs.

Technically better and newer, and when used in tandem with newer technologies and advanacements like ABS and EBD, disc brakes can work absolutely wonderful, and this is the major reason as to why every car, from the modern performance vehicles to normal passenger vehicles with high output or more weight, vehicles today all have disc brakes on all four wheels. Much of it is because of their better performance at high speeds, their durability and the fact that they require less maintenance and do not need to be replaced all that frequently. 

However, that’s not to say that they don’t have any demerits or disadvantages. They are very costly, and in budget models, can only be acquired in the form of specific trim levels or as extras. Similarly, once a disc brake gets old enough, it may start emitting squealing noises, which may be bothersome. 

Now, we will discuss the newer technologies that have accentuated braking systems of modern cars. 

ABS (anti-lock braking system)

As the name suggests, anti-lock braking system was introduced to cars for one very specific reason: to allow the car to continue braking under duress, harsh conditions or slippery roads. In a normal drum or disc brake, when subjected to extreme braking pressure, the brakes may lock up, owing to the hydraulic pressure from the master cylinder to the servos. This stops the braking process altogether, and if the road conditions are wet or slippery, this may be extremely dangerous. ABS prevents this from happening and uses sensors in the wheel rotor to automatically detect whenever the wheel may jam and maintains braking altogether to prevent the wheels from locking up. This is a real lifesaver technology and helps modern cars brake remarkably well even at higher speeds and higher loads. 

EBD (electronic brake distribution)

Mostly used in high-performance SUVs and sedans, electronic brake distribution is a very simple yet intuitive addition that helps cars brake efficiently and effectively. In a car equipped with an EBD system, a sensor monitors speed and regulates braking pressure. When the car brakes, it automatically determines which wheels need the most braking and regulates braking pressure to those wheels. To avoid skidding in rear-wheel-drive cars, EBD will apply less braking pressure on the rear wheels and will instead focus on the front wheels to effectively stop the car without it launching into an uncontrollable skid. 

The bottom line

Braking systems have come a long way from even the cars of 60s and 70s, and it is due to these efficient and better performance from brakes that road accidents and fatalities have dwindled down to low numbers. As we progress further and automobile technology along with braking technology advances, we will see even better brakes in the future which may do away with the disadvantages of the brakes of today. As of now, the best option at our disposal are disc brakes equipped with ABS and EBD, as these provide unrivalled braking performance and efficiency. 

Magnum Autoclub: for your brakes to outperform, ‘outbrake’

With Magnum Autoclub, vehicle maintenance goes from a burdensome task and chore to a bonding time with your beloved set of wheels. If going from point A to point B was never a joyous task for you, after your car gets to the Magnum Autoclub, each drive will be an experience to savor. From complete car care and maintenance to upgrades done without the usual side of hefty bill, Magnum Autoclub is your companion to turn your car into an exquisite machine. Check us out at Magnum Autoclub and feel the difference for yourself.

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