What is the most important safety feature in a car? You might think of the airbag, the anti-turnover system, etc. But there is one even more important thing that we take for granted—the car brake system. Maintaining the brake system in good condition can sometimes be the difference between life and death.
The function of a brake is pretty simple. All they do is to bring down the speed of a moving car. But as it scales up, the whole system gets more complicated. A car brake system has to deal with a lot of different factors. The buildup of heat, wearing, and skidding are some of them. And when the rain and dirt are added into the mix, the complexity grows exponentially. A car brake should work, no matter what the road and weather conditions are. That’s why you have to be careful when you buy a new set of brakes or maintain the existing ones. This guide will help you understand the difference between different types of brakes and will also help you choose the right one for your car.
Each type of brake has different features to suit their area of focus. For example, in passenger cars, the braking should be smooth and comfortable. But that’s not the case in a racing track. Nobody cares about comfort when it comes to racing cars. In that case, you need a brake that provides the minimum braking distance to have the edge over the competitors. But all that aside, here is the list of the common types of car braking systems found in regular cars.
You will find this type of braking system in all modern cars, except electric cars. In a hydraulic system, the force from the pedal travels through the brake fluid to reach the brake drum. But the smart part is that the force you apply on the pedal multiplies several times over before reaching the brake pads. This mechanism is based on Pascal’s principle. It’s ok if you don’t know what that principle is. But what this means for you is that you don’t need to push the pedals nearly as much as when you are using a mechanical brake. In practice, you can break the vehicle by only using the weight of your foot.
As opposed to hydraulic brakes, the force is transmitted to the brake drum through solid mechanical elements like rods and springs in a mechanical braking system. This type of braking was the default in all old vehicles. But this system is archaic these days. You might still find them on some vintage cars, though. The reason is that they are not as effective or robust as hydraulic brakes. But they were extremely cheap to manufacture. Even today, you will find mechanical brakes in bicycles where they use a steel cable to transfer the force from the brake lever to the disk.
This is the newest technology among the brakes. You will find these brakes in hybrid and electric cars. While all other car braking systems apply friction on the wheel, electromagnetic braking achieves frictionless braking using electromagnetism. They have several advantages over the conventional brakes. Because there is no friction, these brakes do not need regular replacement or maintenance. Moreover, while braking, the kinetic energy of the car is used to recharge the battery. And there is virtually no heat buildup in the brakes. But as the technology is not fully mature, cars will have a hydraulic system as a backup in case of failure.
Although this might seem counter-intuitive, applying the brake and stopping the wheels from moving is not the best way to stop a car. Locked wheels skid. And this skidding can result in an increased stopping distance. Moreover, this also renders the wheels unsteerable and can cause the car to skid off the road. ABS eliminates this using some complex computing. It makes use of the sensors on the road to find out when the tire is about to lock up and skid. The system releases the brakes for a short moment when it detects that and reapplies the brake again. This will happen several times in a second.
The difference between these two is in how the force is applied on the wheel. Traditionally, the brake pads were housed on a drum. This drum sat alongside the wheel and expanded when the driver pushed the brake pedal. But this closed construction allowed the buildup of heat. Disk brakes are an improvement over this design. Instead of the drum, disk brakes have disks that are operated by callipers. When the driver pushes the brake pedal, the callipers press the disk on to the wheel. The effect this has on the wheel is similar, but the open design comes with better cooling.
Not all brakes are created equal. Therefore, buying a new set of brakes for your car is not as easy as it might seem at first. Moreover, replacing the whole brake system is not always the right thing to do. Oftentimes, you only have to replace some small element of the brake system. If you know exactly what part of the brake assembly has gone wrong, you can replace just that part, and the brake will work fine. Here are some tips that will help you select the right kind of brake parts.
If you are a DIYer and have the right tools, you can save a lot of money by replacing the brakes yourself. But unless you are a professional, you won’t be able to afford every single car repair tool and replacement part. Rather, you have to be selective when shopping. Fortunately, you can find all kinds of tools and car parts easily here on our shopping search engine. So, don’t forget to check out all the amazing products from the car supplies category.
Brakes work in combination with car suspension and tyres. So, if the tires are hard and do not provide enough friction with the road, there is no way you can improve the brake performance. Furthermore, for most of the passenger cars, the best way to improve the braking is to maintain the stock breaks in good condition. But if your brake is failing due to overheating, there are a few ways to get better braking from the system. You can replace the stock disks with a larger disc, use a better brake pad, or use a calliper piston with more area, etc.
There are a couple of telltale signs of failing brakes. If you happen to hear a screeching noise, it is a sign that your brakes have started to wear out. The screeching sound is caused by the metal parts of the brake and the wheel rubbing against each other. Another sign is that the car will pull towards one side of the road when you apply the brakes. This happens due to the uneven wearing of the brakes. And if the brake rotor is warped, you might feel as if the car is vibrating. Another obvious sign of a worn-out brake is when you feel that the brakes are not responsive. If your car shows any of these signs, you should get the brake checked.
The answer is yes, and no. If you are just a normal car user, bigger brakes will not add any benefit to your car. The primary purpose of a bigger brake set is to increase the contact area with the wheel and to allow more surface area for better heat dissipation. But for passenger cars, the stock brakes provide enough friction between the brake pad and the wheel. Unless you have an overheating problem with your brakes, you don’t need to spend more for a bigger set of brakes. You will know if there is a heating problem if your brake pads do not last as long as they should.