The brake system equipped in your vehicle is a culmination of over 100 years of technological innovation, transforming crude stopping mechanisms into dependable and efficient pieces of speed variation equipment. While brake systems vary by make and model, the basic system consists of disc brakes in front and either disk or drum brakes in the rear. Connected by a series of tubes and hoses, your brakes are linked to each wheel and the master cylinder by said network, which supply them with vital brake fluid (hydraulic fluid).
We’ll take a closer look on how this works, but first we’ll provide a brief overview of the critical components that make braking possible. We can summarize all of your braking equipment into two categories:
When it comes to your vehicle, think of the master cylinder as a pressure converter. When you press down on the brake pedal (physical pressure), the master cylinder converts this to hydraulic pressure. This pressure is used to propel brake fluid to the wheel brakes.
Brake Lines and Hoses:
Steel braided brake lines and high pressure, shock, and road resistant brake hoses are the channels which deliver pressurized brake fluid to the braking unit(s) at each wheel. Wheel cylinders consist of cylinders surrounded by two rubber-sealed pistons that connect the piston with the brake shoe. When brake pressure is applied, pistons are forced out, pushing the shoes into the drum. Calipers squeeze brake pads onto the rotor to stop your car. Both components apply pressure to friction materials.
Disc Brake Pads and Drum Brake Shoes:
A disc brake uses fluid (released by the master cylinder) to force pressure into a caliper, where it presses against a piston. The piston then squeezes two brake pads against the rotor, forcing it to stop. Brake shoes consist of a steel shoe with a steel shoe with friction material bonded to it.
How It All Comes Together
When you first step on the brake pedal, you are triggering the release of brake fluid into the system of tubes and hoses, which travel to the braking unit at each wheel. This is because you actually push against a plunger in the master cylinder, causing the fluid to be released. Now because brake fluid can’t be compressed, it journeys through the network of tubes and hoses in the exact same motion and pressure it initially began with. And when it comes to stopping a 2,000 pound steel assembly at high speed, this consistency is a good thing. But the performance of your brakes can be affected when air is introduced into the fluid; since air can compress, it creates sponginess in the pedal, which disrupts this consistency, and results in bad braking efficiency. The good news is that “bleeder screws” (located at each wheel cylinder) can be removed so that the brake system is “bled” to remove any unwanted air found in your system.
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