Whether you’re a fan of sports cars, trucks, or any other type of auto; I think that there is one thing we can all agree on and that’s that the automotive brake is an amazing feat of engineering. Think about how little energy it takes to press down the brake pedal yet the mechanism brings 3,000 pounds of hurtling steel and aluminum to a stop. Not only are brakes a brilliant invention, they are probably the most important safety component in a car. Just take a second and imagine if all the car brakes in the world stopped working simultaneously. Not a pretty thought. So let’s talk a little about our life-saving car brakes.
A Block of Wood
Brakes in automobiles started as simple as you can imagine although they weren’t the most effective. The first brakes were levers that would press a wood block onto the wheel. The friction of the wood on the wheel would eventually cause the car to slow down. Thankfully, the cars back then didn't have a lot of power because this braking technique wouldn’t have worked at high speeds. Like every other vehicle component, brakes began to advance and new methods and materials were developed to improve their functionality.
Disc and Drum
The birth of the disc and drum brake systems completely changed how automobiles stopped. Both of them multiply the relatively low energy required to engage the brake into exponentially more stopping power. Drum brakes were innovative when they were first introduced but had one main drawback; all of the components were covered under the drum which made cooling the brakes much more problematic. That led vehicle designers to create disc brakes that used calipers and pads to stop the car.
Most autos today use disc brakes and they’ve become very effective and efficient. With a disc brake setup, calipers squeeze two pads against a rotor that generates friction to slow (and eventually stop) the shaft rotation. The rotor is also called a disc, hence the name. Because disc brakes are much more exposed to air circulation than drum brakes, cooling them and keeping them running properly was much easier.
Brakes haven’t only become more capable but they’ve become smarter. There are now cars that have automatic braking systems that work with the car’s sensors, cameras, and radars to activate automatically if it detects something in front of the automobile. This is making driving safer for everyone. In many sports cars there are carbon ceramic brakes that are engineered to be lightweight and able to withstand the intense heat that comes from braking at high speeds.
Regardless of continuing innovation, motorists will always need periodic brake service. Come and see us at I-86 Truck & Auto Repair and we’ll ensure that your brakes are working properly for you.