Disc Brakes Vs. Drum Brakes
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Disc Brakes Vs. Drum Brakes

Vehicles today are equipped with either Disc Brakes or Drum Brakes. Although both perform the same function, and utilize similar methods to achieve braking, they are greatly different. It is important to know which your vehicle has for repairs, because drum brakes will not fit vehicles built for disc brakes and vice versa.

If you need to change your brakes and are looking at purchasing your own auto parts to save money on costs, you may only get into your first search query before you get stuck. When searching for brakes in a search engine, you will probably notice pretty quickly that there are two different types of brakes for your vehicle, disc brakes and drum brakes. These parts will perform the same function for your vehicle but they perform it in very different ways. It is important to know which type of brakes your vehicle uses because if you order the wrong type they will not fit.

Drum brakes were the primary brakes utilized on automobiles for the better part of a century. It was not till about thirty years ago that disc brakes began being mass manufactured on new vehicles. Improvements in disc braking technology played a major role in this transition. With these advancements, disc brakes became better at dispelling heat, had less brake fade, and performed better in wet conditions than their counterparts. Today’s modern vehicles will be equipped with disc brakes on all four wheels or with disc brakes on the front and drum brakes on the rear. Although brake discs perform better, drum brakes are more cost effective in the manufacturing process which is why they are not totally extinct.

Drum Brakes and Disc Brakes do work similarly in that they stop the wheel through friction.  The rotation of a Brake Drum causes the wheels on your automobile to rotate. A Brake Drum has four shoes within its hollowed out shell that connect together to make a circle. The circumference of the circle created by the shoes is slightly smaller than the circumference of the drum. Whenever the brakes are applied, a wheel cylinder forces the shoes to expand outwards so that their surface comes into contact with the inner surface of the drum, creating friction and stopping the drum from rotating any further. Disc Brakes do work in a similar fashion but instead of drums and shoes, you have pads and rotors. Similar to a drum, the rotation of the rotor causes the wheels to rotate on your vehicle. The Brake Pads are held in place on both sides of the rotor by a brake caliper. When the brakes are applied the pads are squeezed together, clamping on the rotor and slowing it down.

If you are purchasing your own parts, you will need to know if your vehicle uses brake drums or brake discs, or a combination of both. You may be able to research this information online, as there are many resources available including manufacturer websites, automotive forums and blogs. If your vehicle’s tire rims have large gaps that you can see through, an obvious giveaway that you have disc brakes would be the site of the caliper on the rotor. The caliper looks like a small robot hand near the surface edge of the rotor. The exterior of the brake drum does not have any brake parts connected to it. You may also be able to find this information from your dealership, or a local dealership. By calling them and giving them your VIN number, they would be able to search within their database to determine if your vehicle has drum brakes vs. disc brakes.  

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