Caring for your brakes

The brakes in your car are important – they are one of the most vital systems in your car. But do you ever give them much thought?

Conventional braking systems convert the kinetic energy of your moving car into heat energy through friction – if the heat energy generated exceeds the energy making the car move, your car will slow down. When you press the brake pedal, hydraulic pressure is fed to the brake assemblies at each wheel through brake lines – in turn forcing pressure against the friction surface which turns the wheel.

Accumulated heat, vapour lock and improper maintenance are all problems that increase the likelihood of brake failure.

There are a few different types of brakes – the most common being the disc braking system. A disc provides the friction surface that turns with the wheel, while a calliper squeezes the rotor with the friction liner to generate the friction and slow the wheel.

 Another type of braking system is the drum braking system, these are less commonly used on passenger vehicles. A drum forms the friction surface while a pair of semicircular shoes, housed in the drum, are forced outwards and onto the internal surface by a hydraulic cylinder.

 Newer and higher performance systems also exist – from conventional discs that can be cross-drilled and slotted to carbon-ceramic disc brake systems that use a rotor made from a blend of carbon and ceramic materials.