The brake system on a vehicle is probably one of the most critical to overall safety. Understanding the type of brakes you have and the care and maintenance they require is crucial to vehicle maintenance. This quick guide will walk you through the differences between disc brakes and drum brakes, and give you some tips on maintenance and brake repair.
Disc brakes are the most common type of brakes on today’s vehicles. These are mounted to the front and/or rear axle. In order to stop the wheel, the disc brake will use a caliper. This caliper is equipped with brake pads. These grab the spinning disc or rotor.
Drum brakes are often found on the rear axle. Drum brakes are also often used on trailers. This type of brake does not use brake pads. Instead of brake pads, a drum brake uses a wheel cylinder that contains pistons. These pistons push brake shoes out to stop the spinning drum. Once contact is made, it slows and stops the brake drum from rotating as well as the wheel. This stops the vehicle.
Differences in Services Disc Vs Drum
Not only do these two braking systems differ in how they work to stop your vehicle, but there are also important differences in how they should be serviced and maintained as well.
Drum Brakes – Drum brakes generally are considered more complicated to repair and replace. This is because there are simply more parts. However, they can sometimes be cheaper to service because the parts are less expensive than the parts needed for disc brakes.
Disc Brakes – Disc brakes are easier to service but more expensive.
What To Check During Maintenance
Regardless of what type of brakes you have, there are some commonalities in servicing. Let’s look at some of the common components that need to be checked during maintenance. If you are not confident doing your brake maintenance, you should have a brake shop assist you.
Pad, Shoe Material – The pad or shoe is the actual part of the brake system that slows and stops the vehicle. This material wears out over time. Replacing brake material will be a regular maintenance job on any vehicle. These are considered consumable parts of a vehicle. If friction material has gotten too thin you may start to hear a screeching or grinding sound when you apply the brakes.
Brake Fluid – The fluid is also crucial to both braking systems. You should check for good levels. If levels are not good you should check for leaks. Brake fluid should be changed every few years. Insufficient brake fluid is very dangerous. Be sure to stay on top of this important maintenance chore.
Seals – Seals are rubber rings that keep the hydraulic fluid from leaking. Seals also keep the piston returning to its off position. Seals should be checked for damage.
Lines and hoses – The lines and hoses help to keep the brake system running safely. Lines can become damaged or can break. This can pose a huge safety risk. Always be sure to check that these are in good shape and replace them promptly if they are not.
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