Whitedog’s 411 on Vehicle Brakes
Six Types of Brakes
Since 1975, Whitedog Import Auto Repair in Iowa City, IA, has been the most trusted name in European and Japanese automobiles. Stop by for a quick brake inspection and avoid the pitfalls of expensive brake repairs with our preventative maintenance brake scheduling. Stop on a dime with Whitedog.
If you drive a European or Japanese model, you most likely have a hydraulic brake, drum brake, disc brake, or anti-lock brake in your vehicle to help you stop the wheels from spinning. If you drive an electric vehicle, you most likely have a degenerative brake. And the one brake that is found in all vehicles is the parking brake.
The hydraulic brake is the most common brake found on vehicles today. This braking system uses a master cylinder to push hydraulic fluid to the brake lines to engage brake pads or shoes to press against the rotors and turns kinetic energy into heat energy to slow and stop your vehicle. This is why rotors have holes to reduce heat friction and prevent damage when stopping.
Drum brakes were invented around 1900 and were the first braking system for vehicles. Wires and levers were used to operate this innovative brake invention. Today most vehicles have disc brakes because of their increased stopping power.
Disc brakes receive pressurized fluid from a master cylinder similar to drum brakes. Disc brakes have a caliper that houses the brake pads. The fluid pressure makes the brake pads squeeze the rotor and the friction paced against the rotor forces the vehicle to slow down and stop. Disc brakes became the preferred choice because they are easier to clean, manage heat more effectively, have more stopping power, and handle better in wet weather.
Anti-lock brakes or ABS brakes also use a hydraulic system that is activated in slippery or inclement weather to keep the vehicle’s brakes from locking up and preventing the vehicle from going out of control when hard braking is used. ABS brakes automatically pump the brakes faster than your feet at rates more than 15 times per second.
Electronic sensors are used when the wheels are about to lock up, then adjust the amount of brake fluid pressure sent to each wheel to help the driver focus on steering and brake pedal foot pressure.
Every vehicle has a hand brake or parking brake installed in case of emergency. This brake is independent of your hydraulic braking system. It was originally used when the main brakes failed. Today, the parking brake is used for parking on uphill grades to prevent a rollback and to give automatic transmission vehicles a break when the car is in the park. It’s called a parking pawl and locks the gears so the vehicle won’t roll away.