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Stop! What Are the Different Types of Brakes?

different type of car brakes Obviously, you know that brakes are one of the most important safety features that your vehicle is equipped with. Yet, what you may not know is that there are a few types of brakes that aid in taking your vehicle from 65 MPH on the highway to a complete stop. In fact, there are different types of brakes between vehicles and within the brake systems. Disc, drum, anti-lock, and emergency brakes, oh my! With so many types of brakes and brake systems including hydraulic, electromagnetic, and frictional it can be overwhelming for any consumer. Knowing the different kinds of brakes, brake systems, and their function will help make you feel confident the next time your car or truck needs brakes.

Service brakes is the system that is designed to slow the vehicle and bring it to a stop. This type of brake system includes disc and drum brakes. Most cars and light trucks are equipped with a four-wheel disc or a combination of disc on front and drums on the back wheels. They are activated when the brake pedal is pressed which hydraulically distributes force to all wheels to slow or stop the vehicle. Front brakes play a bigger role in stopping the vehicle as opposed to rear brakes, because braking forces the weight of the vehicle forward onto the front wheels.

  • Disc Brakes: Consist of a disc brake rotor, which is attached to the wheel hub and the caliper which holds the disc brake pads. Hydraulic brake fluid pressure, in response to activation from the brake pedal, and then the master cylinder, causes the caliper to clamp the disc pads down on the brake rotor. This action creates friction between the pads and rotor, causing the car to slow down or stop. A lot of cars are equipped with disc brakes, which are considered more efficient than drum brakes.
  • Drum Brakes: Contain brake shoes mounted inside a brake drum which are attached to the wheel hub. Hydraulic fluid is forced into the brake wheel cylinders which pushes the brake shoes against the brake drum, creating friction between the shoes and drum to slow or stop your car.

Anti-Lock Brakes also known as ABS, is an important safety feature controlled by a brake computer or module, that is equipped on most newer vehicles today. The ABS system works with the brakes to decrease stopping distance while increasing control and stability of the vehicle during hard braking. When brakes are applied hard and suddenly, as in a panic stop, the ABS system prevents the wheels from locking up and the tires from going into a skid. This effective system monitors the speed of each individual wheel and automatically pulses the brake pressure on and off, rapidly, on any wheels where skidding may be detected. ABS is ideal in all weather conditions but is especially helpful on slippery and wet road conditions.

Emergency/Parking Brakes are a secondary brake system, independent of the service brakes, not often powered by hydraulics. Rear parking brakes utilize cables to mechanically apply the rear brakes, while front parking brakes use cables to mechanically apply the front brakes. Emergency brakes may vary in how they are applied, their shape, size, and location. You may find that your emergency brake is a stick lever located between the driver and passenger seats, or an additional pedal located to the left of the floor pedals, or a push button or handle located near the steering column. Emergency brakes can be used in emergency situations in cases where other brakes systems have failed, but most should be used daily as a parking brake to assist in keeping the vehicle stationary while parked.

Brake System Classifications

While there is an array of brakes idyllic for all situations and road conditions, most light cars and trucks today are equipped with either hydraulic, frictional, or electromagnetic brakes. Here’s what you need to know about each brake system:

    • Frictional-Hydraulic brake systems are comprised of a master cylinder that is fed by a reservoir of hydraulic braking fluid. This particular brake system is connected by a collection of metal pipes and rubber fittings that are attached to the calipers and wheel cylinders at each wheel. Frictional brake systems utilize friction materials to cease the vehicle’s movement by employing disc and/or drum brakes.
    • Electromagnetic systems use a motor to power electromagnets on each side of the disc rotor that when energized, cause the vehicle to stop. In most hybrid vehicles, like reversing the electric flow of energy, the electric motor that powers the car is also used to stop the car. This also aids with charging the hybrid’s battery.

No matter the type of brake system your vehicle uses when it’s time to replace your brake system, rely on Sun Auto Service. We are truly the brake experts and employ ASE Certified Technicians who are knowledgeable on all types of brakes from yesterday’s brake systems to today’s newest innovations. Not sure it’s time for new brakes, yet? Stop into any of our convenient locations for a FREE Visual Inspection of your brake system. You’ll receive an honest report on your brakes condition and what steps will need to be taken now and into the future. When it is time for new brakes, you’ll be confident in knowing which brakes are best for your car and that Sun Auto Service is the business you can trust for your car’s most important safety feature.