Disc Brakes Vs Drum Brakes - Which are better?

by Mohammed Burman | 10/12/2020
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The article below will provide you with a comparison between disc brakes vs drum brakes as regards their working principles as well as their pros and cons. Read on to discover.

The braking system is the most important component in the safety and reliability of a vehicle. Disc brakes vs drum brakes have been compared since they were invented and utilized in the auto industry. A car can either come with disc brakes on all the four wheels or disc brakes in the front or drum brakes in the rear. Why is this so? The comparison below will provide you with basic information on the two types of brakes.

disc brakes vs drum brakes

This article is going to explain disc brakes and drum brakes in more details.

Disc brakes

Operating principles

Disc brakes are in the front of most cars. The brake disc rotors are placed in the wheel hub assembly of the vehicle which spins with the wheels. A brake calliper assembly is mounted on top of the brake discs. Once the driver presses the brake pedal, the pressurised brake fluid from the master cylinder is sent to the calliper assembly. Thanks to this, the piston is pushed, which pushes the inner brake pad against the rotor disc. The fluid triggers backpressure and the entire calliper frame is pulled backwards along the slipper pins. As a result, the outer brake pad is pushed against the rotor, creating friction, thereby making the car slow down. The rotor discs are ventilated to distribute heat when kinetic energy is transformed to heat energy during braking.

Pros and cons



  • Effective heat distribution makes the excessive heat, which is usually a problem with drum brakes, not an issue with disc brakes

  • Smoother braking, thanks to fewer moving parts and compact housing

  • Easy maintenance because the caliper can be independently removed to be repaired

  • Inability to incorporate parking brakes within disc brakes

  • High cost in comparison with drum brakes

  • Vulnerability of the rotor discs to squeaks, making the brake applications sometimes emit some disturbing noise



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Drum brakes

Operating principles

Invented around one century ago, drum brakes still manage to be one of the most popular types of braking system nowadays despite many engineering innovations in the auto industry. Nevertheless, they have started to lose popularity to disc brakes. Drum brakes are mostly used in the rear wheels of heavy vehicles.

The wheel and brake drum are attached to the wheel hub. The back-plate holds all the braking elements consisting of brake shoes, pistons and springs. When the driver pushes the brake pedals, the pressurised hydraulic fluid generates a force on the wheel cylinder, which makes the piston move outwards. As a result, the brake shoes are pushed against the brake drum and the car is decelerated. Thanks to hold-down springs, the brake shoes are held with the back-plate. When the driver releases the brakes, the brake shoes are moved back to the resting position. Drum brakes are generally utilized in the rear axle of the vehicle.

Pros and cons



  • Lower cost compared to disc brakes

  • Longer lifespan, thanks to the greater surface on the drum

  • Ability to incorporate inside the rear drum

  • Easy-to-work-with wheel cylinder in the drum

  • Brake shoes’ ability to be remanufactured for future usage

  • Complex maintenance, due to the higher number of moving parts

  • Negative impacts on the brake shoes and drums caused by heavy braking due to excessive heat, making the drums distort

  • More braking effort required from the driver if the drum is expanded under hot weather

  • Braking fluid’s vaporization due to excessive heat

Above is a detailed comparison between disc brakes vs drum brakes. Hope that with this article, you can choose the car with the ideal braking system for yourself.


1. Disc brakes vs drum brakes: Which are better?

This totally depends on your usage of vehicles since each type of brakes has its own pros and cons. However, today, disc brakes are much more popular than drum brakes. To discover more, scroll up to read our article more carefully.

2. Do drum brakes emit noise?

The answer is yes. Due to the wear and tear of the drums and brake rotors as times passes, a rough or glazed finish can be caused. As a consequence, a disturbing noise may be caused.

3. Front and rear brakes: Which one does more car braking?

The front brakes do more in car braking than the rear units. The reason is that when braking, the car weight is thrown towards the front. Many cars, therefore, have disc brakes, which have greater efficiency, in the front and drum brakes in the rear.

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