What is the Difference Between Disc and Drum Brakes?

Whether you drive a tiny sports car, a practical SUV, or a huge pickup truck, you rely on your brakes to keep you safe. When your brakes are working well, you probably do not give them a lot of thought, and you may not even know what kind of braking system your vehicle has.

It is not uncommon for drivers to not know what kind of braking system they have onboard, but it can be helpful to gather this kind of information. There are two basic kinds of braking systems – disc brakes and drum brakes – and knowing the difference between the two can be very important. Here are some key things you need to know.

What Are Drum Brakes?

Drum brakes used to be more common than they are today, but they are still relatively common on the road. If you have an older vehicle, there is a good chance it uses some kind of drum technology, either on all four wheels or on the front or back.

These kinds of brakes use a circular drum to stop the vehicle. When the brake pedal is applied, this circular drum comes in contact with the brake shoes, slowing the vehicle and bringing it to a safe and secure stop.

What Are Disc Brakes?

As the name implies, disc brakes work with a disc shape rotor and a set of brake pads. When the brake pedal is applied, that disc-shaped rotor creates friction with the brake pads, slowly bringing the vehicle to a stop.

Over time those brake pads will wear down from use, and it is important to have them replaced when that happens. If you do not replace the brake pads when they need it, severe damage to the rotors could take place, creating both an unsafe situation and a very expensive one to boot.

You may not think much about your brakes, but you ignore them at your peril. Knowing how your vehicle operates is an important part of driving, and the more you know about how the various components function, the better off you will be.

If you are curious about what kind of braking system your vehicle uses, you should be able to find that information in your owner’s manual. The owner manual should also contain information on the recommended type of brake fluid, along with other key things you need to know.

Whether your vehicle braking system consists of drums, discs, or a combination of the two, understanding how it works is vital for your safety and the safety of other drivers. Now that you know the difference between the two, you can drive away with confidence.

Photo by Cylonphoto from Getty Images via Canva Pro

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