When you think about the brakes on your passenger vehicle, it is natural to think that all brakes on all vehicles are the same. However, that is not true. The service brakes on your vehicle are probably either disc brakes or drum brakes. In addition to the service brakes, most modern passenger vehicles also have anti-lock brakes as well as emergency brakes. It is important to understand the distinction between these types of brakes if you really want to take good care of your vehicle.
1. Service Brakes
Service brakes are the brakes that your vehicle uses the majority of the time to stop. These are the brakes that you rely on and use every time you step on the brake pedal. The two types of service brakes are disc brakes and drum brakes.
With disc brakes, the rotor for your brakes is connected directly to the wheel of your vehicle. Your vehicle slows down due to the brake pads and the rotor creating friction between one another. This friction is created when hydraulic pressure, which is exerted from the master cylinder, moves the caliper and causes the caliper to squeeze on the pads. This squeezing motion happens on both sides of the rotor.
Drum brakes are set-up a little differently. Instead of being attached directly to the wheel of your vehicle, drum brakes are attached to the inside of the wheel. Your vehicle slows down not because of the calipers, but because hydraulic pressure causes both the brake shoes on your vehicle to rub against the brake drum. This is what causes your vehicle to stop when you have drum brakes.
Both types of brake systems are regularly used in passenger vehicles.
2. Emergency Brake
All modern vehicles have an emergency brake. Emergency brakes are also often referred to as parking brakes. Emergency brakes are a secondary or back-up system. This system is completely separate from your service brakes; these two systems are not interconnected. Emergency brakes use power from cables to apply external pressure to your wheels, causing them to stop. More often than not, the emergency brake is applied when you are stopped, to ensure your vehicle doesn't roll. However, they can also be used if your service brakes fail when you are driving.
3. Anti-Lock Brakes
Anti-lock brakes are the third brake system on your vehicle. Anti-lock brakes have become common over the past two decades on passenger vehicles. This is a system that stops your tires from locking when you have to suddenly brake. Anti-lock brakes most often come into play when you are driving on wet or icy surfaces. Your vehicle has three different types of brakes: service brakes, emergency brakes, and anti-lock brakes. When you get your brakes services, make sure all three brake systems are inspected.
For more information, contact your local vehicle brake services.