The brake system in cars is easily the most important part of any vehicle simply because your well-being depends entirely on it. Brakes are so important that it’s actually not possible to live with a vehicle with a brake system that’s not in good shape. Any car’s braking system works on the simple laws of motion from Newton, especially the second law, which says – “A body continues to be in its state of rest or of motion unless an external force acts on the same.” Today, in this post, we tell you everything there’s to know about the braking system of a vehicle.
In case there is a car that doesn’t have a good braking system, the stopping distance would increase by a huge margin, and this would lead to accidents. Hence, a car’s brake system should always be in perfect shape in order to be able to stop a vehicle in the least possible distance without putting the occupants to any sort of discomfort. Brake systems have come a long way since the time the first car went on sale. Below, we have explained the brake systems in cars in reasonable detail.
Basically, a car’s brake system is designed in a way that it stops/reduces the speed of the vehicle through a set of components that convert the vehicle’s kinetic energy into heat through the generation of friction. For the uninitiated, friction is the energy generated during resistance between two surfaces. Therefore, in a nutshell, the brake system of a car works by a generation of friction through bringing in contact a stationary surface with a kinetic surface.
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As soon as you press the brake pedal of a car, the brake pads or the brake shoes start rubbing against the disc or drum, respectively. Thus, the kinetic energy is converted into heat energy through friction generated between the two surfaces. Once the vehicle comes to a full stop, it stays stationary through the static friction. Over here, the friction generated between the tires and the road, and even the brakes and the wheels, keeps the vehicle from moving forward.
There is another way to classify brakes – Disc and Drum. These are named after the mechanism that is used for applying the brake force. Most mainstream cars have disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear, but even the slightly premium cars have disc brakes all around.
In all, there are three types of brake systems that can be found in cars. These are-
The mechanical braking system can be found in every car’s hand brake or e-brake. In this system, a lever is given near the driver’s seat. This lever is connected to the brakes at the rear of the vehicle through a steel cable. As soon as you pull the handbrake, the steel wire engages the brake shoe into stopping the drum from rotating, thereby curbing the movement of the vehicle. This actually comes in handy when you park a car on a slope.
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In this type of brake system in cars, fluid passes through the master cylinder by pressing the brake pedal to the brake pads or the brake shoes. Through this fluid, pressure is transferred onto the brake pads or the brake shoes, which, in turn, leads to a reduction in the momentum. This is a very reliable system as the pressure put through the fluid is consistent. Components of a hydraulic brake system include a brake pedal, master cylinder, wheel cylinder and brake pads/shoe. The master cylinder distributes the pressure to the brakes lines that are connected to the front and rear wheels. At the wheel cylinder, a piston operates through the pressure generated via brake fluid. The piston operation is then transformed into the movement of brake liners.
Basically, power brakes are nothing but hydraulic brakes but with the addition of a booster that is located between brake pedal and master cylinder. It boosts the braking by increasing the fluid pressure. There are two kind of power brakes – hydraulic assisted and vacuum-assisted. While the former are mostly found on heavy vehicles, the latter is found on most cars.
These brakes are seldom found on cars but are common on heavy vehicles. They comprise of an air compressor, air reserve tank, check valves and a safety valve. While its working is similar to hydraulic brakes, the difference is that instead of fluid, it’s the air that transmits the pressure.
One of the most haunting nightmares of any car commuter is to find himself or herself in a situation where they are cruising along the road and sudden hitting on the brake pedals result in nothing but a shock. Brake failures are one of the most crucial death traps across many countries. Improper maintenance of ignorance by the driver generally result in brake failures and road accidents.
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