What are the differences between Drum brakes vs Disc Brakes?

by Vivaan Khatri | 07/07/2018
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Drum brakes and disc brakes are the two most common brake types. But do you know the differences as well as the pros and cons of each brake type?

Throughout years, engineers have applied various innovative technologies to update the braking system. However, drum brakes and disc brakes still remain as one the most popular mechanism for braking. But do you know the differences between a disc brake and a drum brake? And what are the pros and cons of each one? Let's find out the answer to this question with IndianAuto.

Drum brake vs disc brake differences

Drum brake vs Disc brake

1. What is a drum brake?

drum brake close look

Drum brakes

The name "drum brake" comes from the shape of a brake component. Drum brake was developed about one century ago. It still manages to stay relevant until these days despite the ever-growing braking technology development. However, it is not as prominent as before and starts to lose its prime status to the disc brake. In the modern cars, drum brake is mostly used for the rear wheels of heavy vehicles.

how a drum brake works diagram

The operating system of a drum brake

The main components of a drum brake system are wheel cylinders, brake shoes, and brake drums. When you press the brake pedal, the force is transferred through the brake fluid in the brake line into the hydraulic wheel cylinder. The cylinder will push the two brake shoes against the rotating brake drums. As the result, the friction will be generated to stop the wheel. The video below will explain and illustrate how the drum brake system work:

How the drum brake works

Pros and cons of drum brakes:

  • The drum brake is a simple system which doesn’t cost as much money for maintenance as the disc brake system does. With the drum brakes, component replacement is not complicated at all and can totally be done at home. Drum brakes are certainly a cheaper option for both the manufactures and car buyers.

  • Drum brake accumulates the dust and making the brake drum turn rusty quicker. And as the water could get into the drum house and weaken the stopping power, the drum brake could not perform well in the rainy weather.

  • When it comes to descending, it could not remain at the same level of effectiveness. Moreover, the drum brake is not good at heat dissipation. It is one of the reasons that could degrade the power of the braking system. The braking system is operated by conversing the wheel movement into heat. However, when the system is overheated, the braking system is no longer able to converse the movement into heat.

2. What is a disc brake?

disc brake

Disc brake

The drum brake was the number one choice till the appearance of the disc brake. Drum brake’s effectiveness declines as new car models are getting faster and faster. To keep up with the faster speed, disc brakes are invented to generate a better stopping power.

The disc brake system is comprised of a brake rotor, brake pad, and a hydraulic caliper. Here is the diagram of the disc brake system:

how a disc brake works diagram

The main components of a disc brake system

The brake fluid line will deliver the force into the pistons inside the calipers. The pistons will force against the brake pad and create the friction to decelerate the brake rotor, hence, stop the vehicle. A disc brake could use up to eight pistons, which could exaggerate the force from the brake pedal. On the surface of the brake rotor, there will be holes which will help to ventilate the heat. The name “disc brake”, like the drum brake, comes from the disc-like shape of the brake rotor.

See this clip below to see the animation of how the disc brake work:

How the disc brake works

Pros and cons of disc brakes:

  • The most obvious difference between a disc brake and a drum brake is that the disc brake could deliver a better performance than the drum brakes. Unlike the drum brake which has a hard time cooling the system, disc brakes could easily dissipate the heat generated by the friction during the braking process.

  • In the disc brake system, it takes a longer time until the brake fade occurs. Moreover, the disc brake outperforms the drum brake at descents.

  • The disc brake is also lighter than the drum brake system. Therefore, most of the small or medium cars use the disc brake, whereas the drum brakes are used mostly in heavy vehicles.

  • The drum brake is convenient for replacement, but the disc brake allows easier inspection in the sense that you don’t have to disassemble the wheel to examine.

Most of the modern car would use the disc brake in the front wheels and disc brake in the rear wheels. Using both of the brake systems is a compromise between the efficiency and economy drive. If you prefer uttermost safety, four-wheel disc brake system is the best choice.

Visit our site - IndianAuto for more information about the braking system as well as other car tips and advice:

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