Drum Brakes and Disc Brakes: What to Know About Their Construction and Wear

August 13, 2020 5:21 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

There are two types of brakes that show up in most passenger vehicles: drum brakes and disc brakes. Both of these brake types are based on hydraulic pressure—when you apply your foot to the brake pedal, this releases a mechanical force that compresses brake fluid in the master cylinder, creating hydraulic pressure that gets transferred through the brake lines and hoses that connect with brake assemblies at each wheel. At that point, the wheel cylinders convert hydraulic pressure into mechanical force, applying friction against the brake disc or drum to stop your vehicle.

But while both types of brakes have the same general operation, there are some key differences that it is important to understand. Here’s what you should know about disc brakes vs. drum brakes in New Palestine, IN.

Disc brakes

Disc brakes are the more common of the two types of brakes in passenger vehicles. They get mounted to the front axle, and frequently to the rear axle as well. They use calipers with brake pads to grab onto the spinning disc or rotor to stop the wheel from moving.

The caliper functions like a clamp, and holds together the brake pads, one or two pistons, a bleeder screw, a rubber piston seal to prevent fluid leakage, a dust boot to prevent contaminants from getting inside and anti-rattle clips.

Drum brakes

Drum brakes are a little older and thus not as frequently used in today’s passenger vehicles, but they still show up here and there on rear axles. These brakes don’t use brake pads to create friction, and don’t have a caliper that clamps those pads to the rotor. Instead, there’s a wheel cylinder with pistons that push the brake shoes against the inside of the spinning drum, which slows down the brake drum and wheel.

Comparing the two

The reason disc brakes are more heavily relied upon in today’s passenger vehicles is that they are more efficient, do not generate as much heat, are better when the weather is wet and ultimately provide more stopping power. You’ll find most of today’s cars have disc brakes on all four wheels, though some might cut costs by using drum brakes on the rear wheels.

How fast do drum brakes wear down? It varies, but with regard to the amount of wear and tear you can expect from each type of brake in New Palestine, IN, this is another area that really gives the edge to disc brakes. In general, you can expect disc brakes to last a much longer time, as they are designed in a way that makes them more durable. In addition, ongoing maintenance is easier with disc brakes because they are self-cleaning, whereas drum brakes require more frequent manual cleaning. Disc brakes also have less hardware, making service easier than for drum brakes, which are more complex to service.

Interested in learning more about the different kinds of brakes and why today’s auto manufacturers typically favor disc brakes? We encourage you to contact Auto Air & Heating, Inc. with any questions.

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