Understanding the Stopping Power of Brakes
From running errands around town to hitting the open road, you rely upon your brakes every time you get in the driver’s seat. To most people, braking is a simple process. Press down on the brake pedal and the vehicle comes to a stop. However, like many systems in your vehicle, the brake system relies upon a series of interconnected parts to bring your car to a stop
There are two types of brakes in use: disc brakes and drum brakes. Disc brakes feature brake pads that press against a rotor when the brake pedal is applied. Drum brakes use brake shoes forced into the brake drum to bring the vehicle to a stop.
Most vehicles on the road today have brakes on all four wheels. Since the braking process shifts the vehicle’s weight forward, the brakes on the front of the vehicle does most of the work. Depending on your vehicle’s configuration, it may have disc brakes on all four wheels or it could use disc brakes on the front and drum brakes on the rear.
Brakes in Motion
The brake pedal, when depressed, directly operates the master cylinder, located in the engine compartment (under the hood). It is connected to the brake booster.
The brake booster, which is connected to the master cylinder by a pushrod, adds additional force to the master cylinder. The brake booster uses engine vacuum, by way of a vacuum hose and check valve.
The master cylinder directs the brake fluid. It delivers brake fluid pressure to each of the four wheels through metal tubes and braided hoses. When the fluid pressure increases in the system, slave cylinders known as wheel cylinders and brake calipers are activated.
When the brake calipers are activated, the disc pads compress against the brake discs or rotors, located inside the wheels of the vehicle. This compression causes friction and eventually slows the vehicle to a stop.
When brake shoes are activated, they spread out against the brake drum, inside the wheels, causing friction what, too, slows the vehicle to a stop. Over time, pads, discs/rotors, shoes and drums become subject to wear.
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