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The brakes on your car utilise fluid pressure.
When the brake pedal is depressed, it activates a plunger in the master cylinder,
which pressurises the brake fluid in the pipes and hoses causing the brake components to move.
Brake repairs are one of the most common reasons to visit a garage; all cars need their brake discs and pads replaced at regular intervals. Some of the warning signs for brake failure are squealing or grinding noises when depressing the brakes, or the brake feeling 'spongy' when the pedals is pressed. And of course if you need to brake increasingly hard to effectively slow or stop your car, then you could well be looking at brake replacement.
There are two main types of brake systems: disc brakes and drum brakes.
Disc brake systems are comprised of two pads per wheel, which clamp down on the brake disc when the brake pedal is depressed. When the fluid becomes pressurised, it sends a plunger in the calliper forward, forcing the brake pads on either side of the brake disc to squeeze it, which results in the slowing and stopping of the car.
Drum brakes operate in the same way as disc brakes, but with a different design. They both use friction to slow and stop the car, but drum brakes use shoes, instead of pads. The shoes are inside the steel brake drum itself, which spins with the wheel. When brake pressure is applied, a component called the wheel cylinder expands, forcing the brake shoes apart and towards the inside edge of the drum. Drum brakes are usually found on older vehicles, or just on the rear brake system.
All cars have a split braking system so that the pressure to the brakes is applied to the wheels on separate lines, for safety reasons. There are two basic types of split braking systems: a front and rear split system, and a diagonal split braking system.
The main components of modern brake systems are:
A vehicle's front brakes typically sustain about 70 percent of the braking load, as travel is generally in a forward motion. Anti-lock braking systems (ABS), which are now standard on modern vehicles, were developed to help make braking safer. ABS uses sensors to determine if a wheel is on the verge of locking up during heavy braking. The ABS helps the driver keep the vehicle under control while it is brought to a stop, minimizing skidding and making an accident less likely. However, ABS doesn't work as well on slippery surfaces, such as ice or gravel, so never rely on the system entirely to avoid a skid.
To ensure that your car remains safe to drive, your pads and discs should be replaced at regular intervals. Some of the warning signs for faulty brakes are:
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