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Car Brakes

25/Feb/2023 119 |

Brakes offer a way to slow the momentum of a vehicle for better control and safety on the road. A brake system uses the hydraulic advantage to apply force to a friction material that generates heat. A moving vehicle has kinetic energy. Brakes convert kinetic energy into heat energy.

There are two types of brakes:

  • Disc brakes: Disc brakes have a rotor (disc) for each wheel and brake pads are the friction material. A brake caliper applies force to a brake pad, which presses it against the rotor when it is applied. This generates heat and stops the vehicle.
  • Drum brakes: Drum brakes are shaped like a drum and brake shoes are the friction material. A wheel cylinder applies pressure to a brake shoe with a friction lining. 

The main differences are the shapes of the brakes and their friction material. Friction material provides the buffer that prevents metal from grinding when the brakes are applied. It can withstand the heat that is generated, although it wears out over time and has to be replaced many times throughout the life of the vehicle.

anti-lock brakes (ABS)

Anti-lock brakes have complex electrical and hydraulic components which are used to avoid skidding wheels in a panic stop or in poor traction condition. The anti-lock brakes (ABS) use signals from each wheel speed sensor to determine if one wheel is
stopping faster than any of the others. If this occurs, the ABS control module (a computer) will signal the ABS hydraulic control unit to isolate that wheel, release brake pressure, and then pulsates the brake pressure to maintain equal speeds for all four wheels. This helps avoid skidding and maintains maneuverability during a panic stop.

How to Check the Brake System:

The brake system is often checked by the mechanic during routine oil changes and maintenance. However, it can also be checked at home. Consult the service manual of the specific make and model about checking the brakes and finding the locations of each part of the brake system. 

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