How Much Do You Know About Your Brakes?

February 9th, 2017 by

Brakes are one of the most critical safety features that manufacturer include in their cars. Despite the importance of brakes, however, few drivers know anything about them. Learn more about your car’s brakes so you can understand how they work and know how to spot signs that they aren’t performing properly.


How Disc Brakes Work

Car companies put disc brakes on the front wheels of vehicles because they’re designed to work more efficiently there than drum brakes, which you’ll learn more about in the next section.

A disc brake has a lot of parts that work together to make your car stop. These parts include pistons, brake pads, the disc, the backplate, the caliper, and the brake hose. The pistons, brake pads, and disc do most of the work, though.

When you push your brake pedal, the pistons contract to press the brake pads around the disc. This creates pressure that prevents the disc from spinning, which forces your car’s wheels to stop moving.

How Drum Brakes Work

Manufacturers put drum brakes on rear wheels because the brakes don’t need to do as much work as the ones on the front wheels. Even though they’re less efficient, they contain a lot of parts, including return springs, adjuster ratchets, pistons, cylinders, backplates, linings, shoes, and drums. If any of these parts fail, then your rear brakes will not work properly. That could put you in a dangerous situation when you need to make a sudden stop.

When you engage your car’s brake pedal, the drum brake responds by pushing the shoes outward to press against the inside of the drum. The pressure slows the drum’s spinning, which slows your car’s rear wheels.

How Brake Hydraulics Work

Contemporary brakes use hydraulics so drivers only need to apply a small amount of force to their brake pedals. When you press your brake pedal, you activate a system that uses fluids to multiply the pressure significantly.

Brake hydraulics look somewhat complicated because they contain so many parts. Most hydraulic brakes have springs, pistons, master cylinders, slave cylinders, and fluid reservoirs. If any part of the system fails, then your brakes may fail. If you have ever driven a car that needs more brake fluid, you may have noticed how difficult it is to activate the brakes. Even one flaw can affect the whole system.

Keeping Your Brakes in Good Condition

Brakes need regular inspections to ensure that all of the parts can work together to keep you safe. Brake pads need replacement because they get worn down by friction over time. Most experts agree that brake pads can last from 30,000 to 70,000 miles. That’s a wide window, so it makes sense to have your brake pads inspected at least once per year.

During the inspection, your mechanic should look at the other parts of the brake system, too. For example, even a small leak in the brake hose can make braking difficult or impossible.

Your car has advanced brakes that keep you safe. As long as you take care of them, they should work throughout the life of your vehicle; and if you need brake service or repair, visit the Wilsonville Toyota service department!

Posted in Service