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How do car brakes work?

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. A brake system which has leaks or air bubbles will not operate correctly, or not at all, so regular inspections are very important.

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.

Driving in Southampton

Southampton has been a settlement since Roman and Saxon times, and Roman ruins still remain in a suburb called Bitterne Manor. Some remnants of the medieval wall still exist throughout the city, most notably the Bargate in the centre. Southampton has grown rapidly in the past 30 years, becoming one of the twenty largest cities in England. The two universities (Solent University and University of Southampton) give it a large student population in term time and the city boasts a variety of things to do and see.

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