How Braking Works

How Does My Car Stop?: Braking System Components -- Dave’s Ultimate Automotive

Transportation has come a long way, so most of us take for granted our stopping ability when we press the brake pedal. Although that's the way it should be, and your brakes should be reliable. However, it's helpful to understand your vehicle's braking system. Awareness is your best defense against brake failure because it allows you to detect early warning signs and get timely repair. For great preventive maintenance care to head off problems and repair when you need it, count on the certified technicians at Dave's Ultimate Automotive in South Austin, Texas.

The Science of Stop and Go

Without belaboring the science lesson, here's a quick look at why your car keeps moving and how it stops. Once your auto is moving, it will keep doing so unless something changes its ability to do it. That's Newton's First Law of Motion. Frictional force, however, the resistance that occurs when objects rub against one another, acts against motion. Pascal's Principle describes how pressure from a piston multiplies fluid force (hydraulics). When you depress the brake pedal, your braking system uses hydraulics to create the friction that slows or stops your car.

Brake System Components

Although we'll fix your brakes for you instead of you having to do the work yourself, you may find it useful to know a little bit about your braking components. When you press the brake pedal, a piston forces brake fluid from the master cylinder (the reservoir for this liquid) through the brake hoses/lines to the cylinders located near each wheel. Because of the piston's action, the fluid force multiplies, applying pressure to other parts in the system.

Since most modern cars have disc brakes (at least on the front wheels), the part moved by the fluid force is the caliper. The caliper is attached to a metal brake pad. As the caliper moves the pad into contact with the disc (rotor), the parts rub against one another, creating the friction needed to stop your vehicle. Older cars and the rear wheels of many newer models have drum brakes. These also work using friction. The brake fluid force pushes the brake shoes against the inner drum surface, enabling an effective stop. The drum is turning inside the wheel.

Your Brake Shop

Your safety depends on your car's ability to stop, so you shouldn't neglect to get preventive services or neglect the signs that tell you it's time for repair. Now that you're equipped with some basic braking system component information, it will be even easier to have relevant conversations about brakes. At Dave's Ultimate Automotive in South Austin, Texas, we'll be glad to talk with you about your brakes and take care of needed services and repairs.

Written by Dave's Ultimate Automotive