Let’s talk about brakes. I want you to know everything you need to know about your car’s brake system to help keep you and your family safe. Plus, brake repair cost is much lower if you maintain your brakes properly.
It’s an important topic because your car’s brake system is a complex grouping of parts which serve a critical role in keeping you safe. No other system in your car is as important for your own as well as your family’s safety. Keeping your brake system in tip-top shape should be your top priority.
I’m going to attempt to explain how everything works from the brake pedal on down to the braking system in easy to understand terms that I hope will make sense to you.
The Brake Pedal. This is a strong steel lever which transmits the force from your foot to the master cylinder. The pedal typically has a switch attached to it, to turn on your brake lights when you press the pedal down.
Here’s what happens. When you push down on the brake pedal, the master cylinder is pushed via a push rod. The master cylinder consists of a piston and a fluid reservoir. When the piston is moved, it pushes the brake fluid through the brake lines and into the “brake calipers” or “wheel cylinder”.
Most all cars today have disc brakes on the front wheels, and many have disc brakes on the rear also. When disc brakes are not what’s on the car, you’ve probably got drum brakes. The fluid being pushed from the master cylinder through the brake lines pushes a piston in the brake caliper. This in turn applies force to the brake pads.
The brake pads are typically made from a hard organic or metallic compound. You can imagine the kind of heat friction that builds up when force is applied to the brakes so it makes sense that they are made to survive under high heat and pressure. When the brake pads contact the rotor, there is friction and heat is created. This is how your car stops, by turning the rotating energy of your wheels into heat through friction.
The last part of your braking system is what are known as the rotors. Brake rotors are typically made from cast iron and are made heavy enough to dissipate heat and not warp over time. Unfortunately, in today’s cars, many of the rotors are not large enough, and can warp within a just a few thousand miles. The rotor is bolted between the wheel and the spindle, and rotates at the same speed as the wheels.
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