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Different types of brakes and how to extend their lifespan


Brakes are a key component in vehicles and without them there is no way that we could use them safely. Additionally, having your brakes in good condition is a crucial part of your car’s routine maintenance. Understanding the different types of brakes can be helpful even if you’re not planning on servicing them yourself because you’ll know what to do when they need to be fixed or replaced.

The 4 types of brakes used in vehicles

Drum brakes

This system consist basically of a brake drum attached to the inside of the wheel and two brake shoes which pressure hydraulically against the drum when the brake pedal is activated. The montage of this system can be very complicated, but the way it works couldn’t be simpler since it makes the vehicle stop by creating friction on the wheels. One of the major inconveniences that this brake system presents is that it takes a lot of friction to work and its cooling capacity is quite low.

Disc brakes

Disc brakes consist of a brake rotor attached to the wheel, brake pads outside the rotor and a caliper which through hydraulic pressure squeezes the brake pads on either side of the rotor to cause friction between, slow the vehicle and make it stop. This brake system can sound pretty similar to the drum system but it’s more secure since it provides a more progressive braking, which leads to a smaller friction load and faster cooling. The main downside of the system is that brake pads can wear off fast and need to be replaced often.

Anti-Lock Brakes

The Anti-lock braking system, popularly known as ABS, prevents the wheels from locking up and skidding whenever the brakes are applied, which is especially useful when driving on slippery roads. This system is usually integrated onto the previous ones for a better performance and consists of an hydraulic modulator, an electronic speed sensor, a brake caliper and a hydraulic pressure pipe.

Emergency brakes

Emergency or parking brakes are a secondary braking system that works independently from the stationary breaks (the ones discussed above). Almost all emergency brakes, no matter the kind, are powered by cables which mechanically apply pressure to the wheels, and are generally used to keep a vehicle stationary while parked and in emergency situations when the stationary brakes fail.

3 tips to extend the life of your brakes

Maintaining brakes in a good condition is extremely important for everybody’s safety. To extend the life of your brakes we recommend you to follow the next tips:


  1. Use the engine brake. Brakes obviously wear out due to usage and braking with the engine can help reduce that, which can increase considerably the lifespan of your brakes. Whenever you need to reduce speed, it’s best to lift your foot off the accelerator, step on the clutch and reduce gears. Following this easy tip can help you save a lot of money on brake maintenance, specially if you have a big fleet of vehicles.
  2. Improve your braking technique. When slowing down it’s better for your brakes to come to a complete stop instead of allowing the car to keep moving forward, since the constant friction causes the brakes to wear out more quickly since they become engaged for a longer time. Using only one foot when driving can help avoid accelerating and braking at the same time, which will not only wear the brakes out, but your vehicle’s tires as well.
  3. Removing unnecessary weight. Additionally to improving your braking habits, it is also possible to extend the brakes’ lifespan by removing unnecessary weight from your car whenever possible, which can help reduce the friction on the brakes and on the long run slow their wear.

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