The Components Comprising a Vehicle’s Brake System
To stop your vehicle, you need a fully functioning brake system. While you may know this, you may not know the various components that make the brakes work. Here’s a breakdown of the braking system standard on most modern vehicles.
The brake pedal sends a signal to the system to stop. Without that handy pedal in the car, how would you signal to the rest of the vehicle, hey stop? The pedal should be firm. In wet weather, it is best to pump the brakes rather than slamming on them to avoid hydroplaning. In normal weather conditions, the brakes should stop on a dime. If you experience a soft pedal or one that goes to the floor, you need to find the best brake replacement service in your area to inspect them.
The brake pedal causes a piston in the master cylinder to compress. The master cylinder relays the message to stop to each of the car’s four brakes located on each wheel. Without the master cylinder, the brakes may not receive the necessary pressure to stop the car.
Most modern cars have disc brakes. Before the wheel is put on, a round rotor is put on with a brake caliper placed on one side. The caliper houses brake pads often made of ceramic. When the master cylinder pushes the hydraulic fluid to the brakes, the caliper compresses the brake pads onto the rotor to stop. The pads create friction that forces the wheel to slow and then stop. The necessary friction created can heat up the brakes up to 950 F, which is why brakes are hot when you stop and get out of the vehicle.
Often in older vehicles or large trucks, drum brakes use brake shoes housed in a brake drum. As the wheel turns, so does the hollow drum. The brake shoes push on the inside of the brake drum to create friction that slows the wheel when you signal the car to stop through the brake pedal.
When the brakes fail, they prevent the vehicle from stopping as it should or worse, not at all. Any of these components can fail and impact the vehicle’s ability to slow or stop. Should you notice any odd sounds, feelings or increased stopping distance, it is a good idea to have the brake system inspected. If the antilock braking system has issues, you will be alerted with a sign on the dashboard near where the check engine light comes on.