“If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Automotive 101

The Brake System

A car would move even if it doesn’t have a brake system, but then again how can it be stopped? One would have thought that electrical car parts, body parts, the drivetrain and chassis would have come before the brake system in my list of very important car parts, but those parts do not even come close to the brakes. It is often said that the ability of a car to stop is as important as its ability to run. In fact, if you put me in the driver’s seat of a million-dollar car, I wouldn’t put my feet on the gas pedal, let alone start it, if its brakes are not working. That’s a sure way to invite disaster.

Anyway, there are two types of brake systems that are often employed in modern cars today. The first one is the disc brake system. It is so-called because in this kind of system a rotating disk is placed inside the wheel hub assembly. Enclosing this are the other components of the disc brake system, which are the calipers and the pads. These parts are hydraulically connected to the brake pedal. When the pedal is depressed, the calipers and pads are forced to press on the brake disc. The resulting friction stops the disc from spinning, as well as the wheel which is attached to it.

Another type of brake system is the drum brake. Instead of a disk, a drum is used. Not very complicated, eh? Well, when the brake pedal is depressed, a set of pads that line the drum press against it. Again, friction is produced and the drum and wheels gradually stop rotating.

You’d know instantly the second you lose the functionality of your brakes, because you’ll get nothing even if you depress the brake pedal until it reaches the floor. It is recommended that they should be checked every time you take your car out for a drive. And it is not even advisable to drive it if the brakes are malfunctioning. It should be towed all the way to the service station where the worn parts can be replaced.