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How brakes work

Understanding vehicle braking systems

A brake is a device for stopping or slowing a vehicle, typically by applying pressure to the wheels. This pressure on the wheels converts movement energy into heat energy. There are two main types of vehicle brake:

  • Drum brakes
  • Disc brakes

Both of these work by applying pressure to part of the wheel assembly, impeding movement.

Diagram of a drum brake     Diagram of a disc brake

How do drum and disc brakes work?

The basic physics and principles are the same for both types of brake, although the actual technology has some key differences.

A drum brake is a drum-shaped device with brake pads inside it which expand and allpy pressure to the drum. This pressure creates friction, which in turn impedes movement. One of the side effects of friction is heat, which is why brakes get hot if used often.

A disc brake works quite similarly, except the pads pinch a rotating disc that is part of the wheel assembly. Like drum brakes, disc brakes can also get hot is used often.

There is a third, not very common, typre of brake called a band brake. It has pads which contract around the outside of a drum.

Improving your brakes' performance

Your brakes are a critical part of your vehicle's safety equipment. Maintaining your brakes is the nest way to ensure that they doo their job 100% of the time. The key is to ensure that the pads – the parts which make contact with the disc or drum to create friction – are not too worn.

If the brake pads become too worn, they will slip over the surface they are meant to impact with, creating very little friction and therefore minimal stopping power.

Brakes also need to be adjusted regularly so the pads align properly. Dirt, especially oil residue from the road, can also adversely affect how your brakes work. Effective brakes need to be clean, properly adjusted and not too worn.


Ensuring your brakes work properly

Being able to stop as safely and effectively as possible is vital in teh overall context of your car's safety. At Solar City Tyres, we advise that you make sure your brakes are inspected and serviced regularly by experts. Excessive wear, bad adjustments and the buildup of dirt and oil can all compromise your brakes’ effectiveness. Regardless of what type of brakes your car has, there can be no shortcuts when it comes to safety.

For more information about your brakes or our brake services, head over to our services page, or contact us today.