Car Brake And How It Works
What is a Car brake?
A brake is a mechanical device that inhibits motion by absorbing energy from a moving system. It is used for slowing or stopping a moving vehicle, wheel, axle, or to prevent its motion, most often accomplished using friction
What are the types of car brakes?
1. Disc brakes:
You’ll find this type of car brakes on most modern cars. This type of system uses brake pads, rotors, calipers, and hydraulic fluid to bring your 1car to a safe stop. When you hit the brake pedal, hydraulic fluid is pushed through the system to push the calipers together, which then pushes the brake pads down onto the rotor to slow your car. Disc brakes are more popular because they fare better in wet conditions (they dry more quickly) and they also are better at dissipating heat when you brake, which means you’ll always have full stopping power on your side.
2. Drum brakes:
Drum brakes are similar to disc brakes. However, they have a small round drum with a set of brake shoes inside of it; when you brake, the shoes are pressed against the sides of the drum to slow you. They’re the less popular option of the two, despite the fact that they’re cheaper to replace. Why? Two main reasons. They have a drum-like design (thus the name) and this means that the interior can hold water inside, which makes them function less effectively and also can cause rusting and corrosion. Also, they don’t handle heat as well as disc brakes and if they overheat, you lose stopping power.
3. Anti-lock brakes:
Anti-lock brakes aren’t actually a type of brake, technically. They are, however, a technology that’s been integrated into the braking system to prevent the car brakes from locking up when in use. If you suddenly hit the brakes when you’re driving, the wheels could lock up and cause you to skid (especially if the weather is wet). An ABS brake system senses the rotational speed of each wheel and if it senses that a wheel has locked up, it sends pulses of brake pressure to that wheel to reduce the speed of your car and help you regain traction.
4. Emergency brakes:
Your emergency brake is also known as your parking brake. This brake is connected to the main brakes of your car via a cable and is activated either by a hand lever, a foot pedal, or a button. You’ll typically use this type of car brake to keep your car in one spot (especially if you park on a hill), but it can also be used as a last-ditch resort should your main brakes fail.
5. Hydraulic brakes:
The primary braking system used in most modern vehicles is the hydraulic braking system. Hydraulic braking systems use brake fluid to move parts like brake pads or shoes that enable your car to slow down.
The way hydraulic brakes work is pretty straightforward: brake fluid pressure is sent through the master cylinder whenever you engage the brake pedal, creating hydraulic pressure. This pressure pushes the brake fluid through the brake lines and down to each wheel. Once at the wheels, the brake fluid pushes friction material against either a rotor or brake drum, depending on the type of brake on the wheel. This friction material takes the kinetic energy of the spinning wheel and turns it into heat energy, as the friction force slows down the wheel
Essential Parts Of Your Braking System
1. MASTER CYLINDER: The brake master cylinder is the first, and perhaps most important, component in your braking system because it sets the rest of the system in motion. The master cylinder is activated by pressing down on the brake pedal, which pushes a piston through the cylinder to force brake fluid through the brake lines.
In other words, the master cylinder creates hydraulic pressure that pushes the brake fluid down to the brake components on each wheel. The brake fluid reservoir sits on top of the master cylinder to supply it with fluid.
SYMPTOMS OF A BAD MASTER CYLINDER
While master cylinders are designed to last the lifetime of your vehicle, they can sometimes suffer from leaks or other mechanical failures. Look out for these symptoms of a bad master cylinder:
a. Abnormal brake pedal feel: A brake pedal that feels soft, squishy, or slowly sinks to the floor may indicate that the master cylinder has a leak or is otherwise not properly sealed.
b. Dirty brake fluid: Brake fluid that appears dark brown or black may indicate that the master cylinder’s rubber seals have broken down and contaminated the fluid.
c. Leaking fluid: A master cylinder whose seals have worn out may present visible leaks that drip brake fluid onto the ground beneath your vehicle.
d. Check engine light: Your vehicle may be equipped with sensors that detect when the brake system loses pressure due to a faulty master cylinder, prompting a check engine light.
2. BRAKE BOOSTER: Brake boosters are a component of power brake systems. They multiply the force applied by the brake pedal onto the master cylinder. Power brakes are found on many vehicles nowadays to make braking more manageable.
Without a brake booster, you would have to put in a lot more effort to slow down your car. Most brake boosters are vacuum-boosted, meaning the engine produces a vacuum inside the booster’s diaphragm to multiply force from the pedal.
SYMPTOMS OF A BAD BRAKE BOOSTER
A failing brake booster can create dangerous driving conditions by making braking more difficult. Oftentimes, a brake booster fails due to a ruptured diaphragm or cracked vacuum hose. Here’s what to look for if you suspect your brake booster may be going bad:
a. Stiff brake pedal: A brake pedal that is extremely difficult to press down and does not rise after being pressed is one of the primary indicators of a bad brake booster.
b. Longer stopping distance: a vehicle with a bad brake booster may be more difficult to stop and could result in longer stopping distances.
c. Engine stalls when braking: If the diaphragm in your brake booster is ruptured, it may draw excess vacuum from the engine, causing it to stall.
3. BRAKE FLUID: Pressurized brake fluid is the medium by which the mechanical parts of your brake system are activated. It is sent from the brake fluid reservoir to the master cylinder. Then, through the brake lines, and down to the calipers or wheel cylinders (if the vehicle has rear drum brakes) at each wheel, which house the brake pads. This hydraulic fluid not only actuates the brake pads and rear shoes (if drum brake equipped) at each wheel, but it also acts as a lubricant and has anti-corrosion additives to keep your brake system healthy.
SYMPTOMS OF BAD BRAKE FLUID
Exchanging your brake fluid is a routine maintenance item that should be investigated approximately every two years or 30,000 miles. If your brake fluid is contaminated, sludgy, or its level is too low, you may encounter these symptoms:
a. Soft brake pedal: A pedal that is overly soft and unresponsive may indicate a leak has caused you to lose too much brake fluid.
b. Less effective brakes: Brake fluid that is contaminated with air or sludge won’t respond as effectively when pressurized, which may lead to longer stopping distances.
c. Brake warning light: Your car may be equipped with a sensor in the brake fluid reservoir that activates the brake warning light on your dashboard if fluid levels drop too low.
4. BRAKE LINES & HOSES
Brake lines and hoses carry brake fluid from the master cylinder to the calipers on all four wheels. Brake lines are rigid metal tubes attached to the car’s body, and they transport the fluid most of the way to the wheels. Brake hoses are found at the end of the brake lines and are used to bring the fluid the rest of the way to each caliper or wheel cylinder. Brake hoses are made of rubber to allow movement between the wheel and suspension.
SYMPTOMS OF BAD BRAKES LINES & HOSES
Brake lines and hoses are made to last for tens of thousands of miles, but they should be inspected regularly to check for leaks or damage. Here’s how to check if your brake lines or hoses are going bad:
a. Mushy brake pedal: If a line or hose has sprung a leak, it may compromise the pressure of the hydraulic fluid your brakes need to operate, leading to a dangerously soft pedal.
b. Visibly worn brake hose: Exposure to weather and heat from the brakes over time may result in brake hoses that have cracks, tears, or frayed threads that can quickly turn into a leak.
5. BRAKE CALIPER: Brake calipers are a component placed at each wheel and found only in disc brake systems. They act as a metal clamp on the wheel’s disc or rotor. When the brake pedal is applied, brake fluid activates a set of pistons inside the caliper, which presses brake pads against the rotor and slows the vehicle.
SYMPTOMS OF A BAD BRAKE CALIPER
Brake calipers are built to last tens of thousands of miles without issue, but as they age, the piston(s) inside the caliper may get stuck or the caliper itself may leak or become stuck as well. Look for these symptoms of a bad brake caliper:
a. Visible leaks: Constant exposure to the heat from braking can cause the caliper’s rubber seals to break down over time, which may result in brake fluid leaks under your vehicle and near the wheels.
b. Less effective brakes: If the caliper has built up too much dirt and grime, the caliper sliders may become stuck, preventing the caliper from fully clamping down on the rotor and giving the brake pedal a spongy feel.
c. Car pulls to one side: As a caliper begins to wear out from heat exposure, its pistons may seize and create drag on that particular wheel, causing it to pull to that side.
d. Brakes engaged without pedal: A caliper that becomes stuck from dirt and grime may be unable to fully retract the brake pads from the rotor, making your ride feel like the brakes are partially engaged even when your foot is off the pedal.
6. BRAKE PADS & SHOES
Brake pads are found only in disc brake systems, while brake shoes are found in drum brake systems. With disc brakes, brake pads act as the friction material that is squeezed against a wheel’s rotor to slow it down. On drum brakes, brake shoes perform the same function, except they create friction by being pressed against the inside of a drum.
SYMPTOMS OF BAD BRAKE PADS
Brake pads are a routine maintenance item and need to be replaced at regular intervals. Depending on the type of pads you have, they may last anywhere between 20,000 to 70,000 miles. However, a better way to tell if your pads need replacing is by how thin they are. Brake pads should be replaced when they wear down to about 3 to 4 mm in thickness. Here are some symptoms of worn-out brake pads:
a. Squealing noise: Some brake pads come with a built-in indicator that makes an audible squealing noise when they become too thin, letting you know they need to be replaced. If you hear a harsh grinding noise, this likely means the pads have completely worn out and are now pressing against their rotor with only their metal backplate. If you hear grinding, schedule an appointment as soon as possible to have your brake pads replaced.
b. Less effective brakes: As brake pads wear out, their braking response worsens, especially during hard braking situations.
7. BRAKE ROTOR & DRUM
A brake rotor is a metal disc attached to the wheel hub, found only on disc brake systems. It rotates with the wheel so that when the brake pads squeeze the rotor, the whole wheel comes to a stop. In drum brake systems, the brake drum also rotates with the wheel, but it contains wheel cylinders and brake shoes that slow the rotation of the drum.
SYMPTOMS OF A BAD BRAKE ROTOR
Brake rotors last longer than brake pads but suffer from similar wear due to heat and friction and will need to be replaced eventually—usually after tens of thousands of miles. Rotors can sometimes be resurfaced or replaced altogether. Watch out for these symptoms of a bad brake rotor:
a. Squealing or scraping noises: A rotor that has become warped may make a squealing sound when applying the brakes and a scraping noise if the rotor is severely worn.
b. Brake pedal vibrations: If one or more rotors are warped, it can cause irregular vibrations felt through the brake pedal or steering wheel (during braking).
c. Grooves on the rotor: As brake pads and rotors wear out from contact, the rotor may be left with grooves or visible marks that may need to be resurfaced to maintain safe braking.
d. Longer stopping distances: Rotors that are grooved, scored, or warped are overall less effective and can unsafely increase your stopping distance.
Early Warning Signs You Need New Brakes
Generally, your car’s brake pads should be replaced every 25,000 to 65,000 miles, while your rotors should be replaced between 30,000 and 70,000 miles. However, the exact figure can vary depending on your terrain, weather conditions, and driving style. Fortunately, it’s likely you’ll only experience minor symptoms when your car’s brake pads reach their end of life, making diagnosis and repairs easy. Nevertheless, if you’re unsure if it’s time to change your brakes, here are nine common signs you should pay attention to.
1. Visible Wear-and-Tear: A visual inspection is one way to check the condition of your car’s brake pads. You can see them between the wheels’ spokes, pressed against the metal rotors. If you see that the pads are less than a quarter-inch thick, then it may be time to have them inspected or replaced.
2. High-Pitched Screeching: If you notice a high-pitched screeching sound when you press the brake pedal, there’s nothing to worry about. It doesn’t indicate that your brakes will give out any minute. Instead, the squealing noise comes from a piece of metal purposefully built into the brake pads. It’s intended to warn you that the brake pads are getting thin and will need to be replaced soon. So, if you do hear that high-pitched grating or whining noise coming from your wheels, make an appointment with the service center soon.
3. Screeching Despite New Pads: However, loud noises coming from your car’s brakes don’t always mean you need to replace them with new ones. Another cause of strange sounds from your vehicle’s brakes may indicate that the rotors are glazed. This is caused by excessive braking that causes the metal to heat up and burn. Take a closer look; if you see blue marks or a dark ring on your rotors, they may need to be replaced.
4. Slow Stopping Response: Sometimes when you need to stop quickly, you may feel that your braking system isn’t stopping the car fast enough or it’s not as responsive as it should be. These might be signs of a leak in your car’s braking system. It may also result from applying the brakes over a long distance without bringing the vehicle to a complete stop. As a result, the brake pads and rotors are forced to make contact for long periods, and heat builds up. Eventually, their ability to generate the friction needed to stop the vehicle reduces over time.
5. Brake Pedal Vibration: When your brakes are in good working order, your car will smoothly roll to a stop. But when your brake pads are worn or the rotors become damaged, they can send vibrations throughout your car. If the car shakes or the steering wheel vibrates when you brake but stops when you release the brake pedal, it’s time to have your brakes serviced.
6. Extremely Sensitive or Insensitive Brakes: You may have been startled by your braking system suddenly jerking your vehicle to a stop at the gentlest touch. It may indicate that your rotors have worn down unevenly or that you need to replace your brake fluid. Either way, it’s a sign that you need to have your car serviced.
On the other hand, if you have to push the pedal nearly to the car’s floor to get your brakes to engage, that’s also a problem. It might signal that there’s air in your brake fluid, your vehicle has low brake fluid, or the brake pads are too thin. It may also be a sign that there’s an issue in your car’s hydraulic system. Take your vehicle to the mechanic immediately so they can diagnose the problem correctly.
7. Driveway Puddle: Another way to determine if your brake system leaks fluid is to check under your car. You may notice a small puddle of fluid after your car has been parked for a while. It might be the brake fluid if it looks similar to fresh motor oil but isn’t as slimy.
8. Heavy Grinding Sound: If you missed the screeching reminder that your car’s brake pads are thin, you might soon notice an even worse sound. A heavy metallic growling or grinding noise signifies that your pads have completely worn down. Unfortunately, replacement is out of the question at this late stage, as the grinding sound comes from the metal plate that rubs against the rotor. In a short amount of time, this can scratch your rotors or even melt the metal together and cause the brakes to stick. It has become a safety hazard that needs to be addressed immediately.
9. Pulling To One Side: Do you feel like there’s some invisible force pulling your vehicle to one side while you press your brake pedal? It might signify that the car’s brake lining is wearing unevenly and needs an adjustment. It could also indicate some foreign matter in your brake fluid, which means you should get the fluid drained and replaced.
What Happens When You Drive With Worn Brakes?
Here are three problems that can result from driving with worn brakes:
1. Slow Response Time: The more worn down your brakes become, the harder it can be for them to slow your vehicle, depending on how the pad wears. If it’s becoming more difficult to brake, your brakes may be worn, and paying attention to their response time is essential. Get your car to the service center and replace your brake pads to prevent a potential car accident.
2. Damage to Your Car’s Tires: Driving with worn brakes can actually wear down your tires too. With that slower response time mentioned above, you may end up slamming on your car’s brakes more often just to stop in time. Hard braking takes a toll on your tires. It can wear down your tires quicker or cause them to be unbalanced, leading to uneven tire wear.
3. Further Damage to Your Braking System: Your car’s brakes are a closely connected system of moving parts. When one component is damaged, the problems can trickle down into other elements. If your brake pads are worn down to a certain point, you risk damaging your rotors. If your pads are excessively worn, exposed metal on the pads grinds against the rotors every time you brake. This grinding metal produces excess heat that can crack or warp the rotors. Eventually, it damages your entire brake system, leading to even more extensive repairs down the road.
To get original car parts anywhere in Nigeria with a warranty, send us a message or please visit: CLICK HERE