Knowledge is power. The more a car owner knows about the workings of the automobile, the better the choices will be when new cars purchased. Moreover, there is a better understanding of what preventive maintenance ought to be done and when it should be scheduled. Brakes are the most important safety feature of any automobile. There are two kinds: disc brakes and drum brakes. They are not the same.
Quite literally a drum brake is a small round drum that has a set of shoes inside of it. The drum brake will rotate alongside the wheel and when the brake pedal is applied, the shoes are forced against the sides of the drum and the wheel is slowed. A disc brake has a disc shaped metal rotor spinning within a wheel. When pressure is applied to the brake pedal a caliper will squeeze the brake pads against the disc. This will slow the wheel down as more pressure is applied to the brake pedal, bringing the car to a halt.
There is a qualitative difference between the two and some of it centers on friction. The disc brake dissipates the heat more effectively. Brake fade occurs when the brakes begin to lose their effectiveness and this can happen on steep downhill inclines for the drum brake design. It takes longer for the disc brake achieve brake fade, and these perform better on steep descends. The drum brake has the potential of collecting water inside during rain or driving over puddles. That can result in the drum brakes not performing as well in wet conditions. Still, however, many cars have rear drum brakes.
It is quite possible that your car may have disc brakes in the front end with drum brakes handling the rear tires. The reason is pure economics. Because a car weight is going to shift with braking, over two thirds of the braking effort occurs in the front of the car. There is not quite the need to have disc brakes, which are more expensive than drum brakes, on all four wheels. The maintenance of a drum brake is also cheaper. The brake drum has an all-in-one design that is very easy to replace when repair work is needed. In fact, the brake shoes can be replaced in less than ten minutes when the drum has been taken off. This means that both parts and labor costs are dramatically reduced when a drum brake is on the car. The drum brake also gets the job done, and both types of brakes will bring the car to a stop.
The disc brake has its own advantages and one of them is easy inspection. The car owner does not have to remove the wheels in order to look at the disc brake system. This brake system also has better stopping power than the drum brake. The disc brakes are completely self-adjusting and because this type of brake is so common there’s a wide selection of disc brake pads from which to choose. There are disc brake conversion kits available for anybody who wants to change over the drum brakes to the more efficient disc system.
What is important to keep in mind is that either brake system is going to bring the car to a stop; the disc brake just does it more efficiently. The cost consideration is something that a car owner may want to think about. Understanding that most of the braking work will be at the front of the car, a model of car that has front disc brakes and rear drum brakes conceivably has the best of all possible worlds. The drum brakes in behind are much easier to replace if necessary. The owner can concentrate maintenance efforts on the front brakes and not worry too much about the rear ones. Overall safety and efficiency may be something that the car owner is concerned about, particularly in looking at a family car. In these situations the disc brake system on all four corners may be the best because it is the safest. It just is up to consumer which brake system, either a four disc brakes or a combination of the two types, is going to be what fits the need.