What is a braking system?
An automotive braking system is a group of mechanical, electronic and hydraulically activated components that use friction/heat to stop a moving vehicle.
How does a braking system work?
When the brake pedal is depressed, the pressure on the brake pedal moves a piston in the master cylinder, forcing the brake fluid from the master cylinder through the brake lines and flexible hoses to the calipers and wheel cylinders. The force applied to the brake pedal produces a proportional force on each of the pistons.
The calipers and wheel cylinders contain pistons, which are connected to a disc brake pad or brake shoe. Each output piston pushes the attached friction material against the surface of the rotor or wall of the brake drum, thus slowing down the rotation of the wheel.
When pressure on the pedal is released, the pads and shoes return to their released positions. This action forces the brake fluid back through the flexible hose and tubing to the master cylinder.
What components are in the braking system?
Disc Brakes are comprised of a disc or rotor, a caliper assembly, disc brake pads and the wheel bearings and hardware necessary to mount the components on the vehicle. The caliper is connected to the master cylinder through tubes, hoses and valves that conduct brake fluid through the system.
Drum Brakes are comprised of a drum & backing plate, a hub or axle assembly, brake shoes, wheel cylinder, wheel bearings and hardware necessary to mount these components on the vehicle. The wheel cylinder is connected to the master cylinder through tubes, hoses and valves that conduct brake fluid through the system.
Brake fluid is a type of hydraulic fluid used in brake applications for automobiles and light trucks. It is used to transfer force under pressure from where it is created through hydraulic lines to the braking mechanism near the wheels. Braking applications produce a lot of heat so brake fluid must have a high boiling point to remain effective and must not freeze under operating conditions. Brake fluid is also designed to protect against corrosion of the system materials it contacts, however those corrosion inhibitors deplete over time.