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A Closer Look At Your Car’s Rear Drum and Disc Brakes System

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Brakes are one of the most vital components of any vehicle. Its primary function is to stop or slow down your auto efficiently and effectively. This is achieved by converting the kinetic energy of the moving car into heat energy. The heat energy is dissipated through the friction generated between the brake pads and the rotors or car drum brake.

The typical brake system is composed of several key components that work in sync to bring the car to a halt. Regular maintenance and prompt repairs of these parts are essential to ensure the brake system’s optimal functioning.

Types of Brake Systems

The two most common brake systems are the drum and disc brakes. Each of them is described below:

1. Drum Brakes

SA - Drum Brake

These are the traditional types of braking systems and normally consist of a round drum housing that encloses the brake shoes. When the brake pedal is pressed, hydraulic pressure causes the shoes to press against the inner surface of the car drum brake. This produces friction that forces a car to slow down.

2. Disc Brakes

SA - Disc Brake

Disc brakes are the modern brake systems commonly used in today’s cars. They consist of a flat disc-like rotor attached to the wheel hub and a caliper that houses the brake pads. A car disc brake operates much like its drum counterpart.

Advantages of Drum Brakes

Both drum and disc brakes have their respective set of advantages. For drum brakes, the following are the reasons they remain popular:

1. Drum brakes are inexpensive.

This type of brake system is generally easier and cheaper to manufacture than disc brakes. Replacing them also costs less, making drum brakes popular, especially among budget-conscious car owners.

2. They can adjust themselves.

Drum brakes have a self-adjusting mechanism that compensates for wear and tear. This ensures that you have consistent braking performance over time.

3. Drum brakes have simple designs.

Drum brakes have a straightforward design and fewer components than disc brakes. The typical drum brake only has brake shoes, springs, and other supporting hardware. This simplicity makes it easier to work on drum brakes, especially in repair.

4. They can dissipate heat.

The surface area of a drum brake is typically large. This means most of the heat generated during braking gets spread out and dissipated into the surrounding air. This helps prevent the brake system from overheating.

Disadvantages of Drum Brakes

The following are the common drawbacks associated with drum brakes:

1. Drum brakes are prone to heat buildup.

While most drum brakes have large surface areas, they are often enclosed with limited exposure to external surroundings. This can somehow restrict airflow around the brakes, leading to unwanted heat buildup.

2. They can fade.

Due to their simple but closed design, drum brakes are more susceptible to brake fade. This refers to decreased braking performance caused by factors like heat and overuse.

3. Drum brakes have limited cooling capabilities.

The enclosed nature of drum brakes limits their ability to cool down quickly after use. This can eventually adversely affect the brake system’s overall performance.

4. They are heavy.

This is primarily because drum brakes require additional components, such as levers, to operate. This can negatively impact a vehicle’s performance, notably fuel consumption.

Advantages of Disc Brakes

Both the drum and disc brake system are popular brake types. The latter, however, is considered as technologically superior, and below are the reasons:

1. Disc brakes perform better.

On the road, a car disc brake provides superior braking performance. This can be seen in many high-speed and heavy-duty applications.

2. They dissipate heat better.

The reason for this is the open design of disc brakes. This allows for efficient heat dissipation, effectively reducing the risk of brake fading.

3. Disc brakes have self-cleaning features.

The spinning rotor of the disc brake helps fling away debris, dirty water, and other contaminants, preventing them from compromising the brake’s effectiveness. This self-cleaning mechanism ensures that the brake pads consistently make good contact with the rotor, providing consistent braking performance.

4. They can work in wet weather.

Disc brakes perform better in wet conditions. Unlike drum brakes, the built-in rotors are less prone to water buildup.

Disadvantages of Disc Brakes

Despite the advantages, disc brakes also have their downsides, which include the following:

1. Disc brakes are costly.

Since they have technologically-advanced features, disc brakes are sold at generally stiff prices. The manufacturing process for this brake type is also quite expensive.

2. They can be noisy.

Disc brakes are known to produce noise, such as squealing or grinding. This usually occurs when the brake pads are worn out due to frequent use.

3. Disc brakes have complex designs.

Disc brakes have a more intricate arrangement of components. They also have multiple parts, which means that they require more careful handling. This can make them slightly more challenging to service and repair.

4. They can corrode.

The exposed nature of disc brakes makes them more susceptible to corrosion. Car owners who live in regions with harsh climates or extreme weather will usually have this problem.

Can a Car Have Both Drum and Disc Brakes?

Yes, it’s common for some vehicles to have disc brakes on the front wheels and drum brakes on the rear. This configuration often balances performance, cost-effectiveness, and parking brake functionality.

What Is a Drum-in-Disc Parking Brake?

In certain vehicles, a combination of drum brake and disc brake is used for the parking brake system. This setup, known as a drum-in-disc parking brake, involves the integration of a small drum brake mechanism within the disc brake assembly. The drum brake portion is primarily responsible for the parking brake functionality, while the disc model handles regular braking operations.

Key Takeaway

Understanding your car’s rear drum and disc brake system is crucial for maintaining your vehicle’s safety and performance. While drum brakes have advantages, such as cost-effectiveness and simplicity, disc brakes offer superior performance and better heat dissipation.

In this regard, you must weigh the pros and cons when considering brake system maintenance, replacements, or upgrades. To get the best results, always consult a professional auto shop or refer to your vehicle’s manufacturer guidelines for specific recommendations.

Break away from the rest and have your brake system serviced at Saul’s Autotek.

An efficient braking system is crucial if you value your safety as a driver. If you’re having issues with your car brakes, Saul’s Autotek should be your first choice for the needed repairs.

Even if you have both a drum brake and disc brake on your auto, this won’t be a problem with our Westminster brake repair team. They are certified, fully trained, and the best in their chosen field. Call us now.

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About the Author

Picture of Saul Reisman

Saul Reisman

Saul Reisman has been helping the residents of the Centennial State with their automotive needs for over ten years now. He finished his Associate Degree in Physics at the Community College of Denver. Saul is an active member of the Specialty Equipment Market Association and a board member of the Young Executives Network. He undergoes constant educational training through GMC, MOPAR, Ford, Snap-On, Borg-Warner, and Ozark Automotive, with an emphasis on diagnosis, repair, and improvement.

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