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The brake system in an automobile causes the vehicle to come to a halt when the brake pedal is pressed. It also slows down the speed of an automobile. Braking systems commonly used in automobiles are of the hydraulic type. This page is more of an abstract of the working of the various parts of a braking system. The following are links to articles related to the topics centered on the brake system.
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The basic components of a disc brake system include the reservoir, master cylinder, caliper and pads. The reservoir stores the incompressible brake fluid. When the brake pedal is pressed, the fluid flows from the reservoir to the master cylinder and is compressed. The fluid then flows through the brake lines to the slave cylinder in the brake caliper. The caliper pushes the brake pads against the brake rotor, thereby stopping the wheels of the vehicle.
Some vehicles have two master cylinders, so when one cylinder fails, the other can take up the task. There are two main types of brake systems found on vehicles: disc brakes and drum brakes. Except for the difference in their components and the direction in which each applies force, the drum brake system works similarly to the disc brake system. In a drum brake system, the brake shoes do the job of the pads and wheel cylinders perform the function of calipers. Because of their simplicity, low cost, and long service intervals, most drum brakes today are only found on the rear wheels of economy-minded small cars while the front wheels use disc brakes.
Disc brake systems, however, are much stronger and able to apply much more force to stop the vehicle quicker. To help dissipate the incredible heat generated during the braking process, many brake rotors have internal vanes to aid in cooling. In addition, variations on the standard “smooth” type of brake rotor can offer improved heat dissipation and improved braking performance.
Slotted brake rotors have channels or “slots” machined into their friction surface which allow for gas and brake dust to escape creating better contact between the pad and rotor. These slots also help the face of the rotor cool more evenly, reducing the likelihood of brake rotor warpage from overheating. Similarly, cross-drilled brake rotors have holes in their face that directly link the friction surface of the rotor to the internal cooling vanes, lowering brake temperatures and providing a path for outgassing. Some rotors even combine cross-drilled and slotted brake rotor designs to offer the best of both worlds: great initial bite in wet and dry conditions, superior cooling capacity, decreased brake fade, and fantastic looks.
To enhance the braking power further, brake systems include power boosters which are located between the brake pedal and master cylinder. Operating with the help of vacuum, these boosters multiply the force applied on the brake pedal. This helps reduce the effort applied on the brake pedal to a great extent. All modern braking technology incorporates the ABS (anti-lock braking system) to provide better traction and control over the vehicle while driving on slippery road conditions. There are also air brake systems which are generally used in buses and trains.
Apart from disc and drum brakes, automobiles also have hand brakes, which are often called parking brakes. These brakes are used when the hydraulic system fails completely. A hydraulic system will rarely become fully inoperable, provided you do not ignore the symptoms of defects in various parts of the brake system. Often, the brake fluid can leak from the brake components, resulting in a decreased braking performance. Common symptoms of a bad braking system include decreased braking pressure, sticking pedals and increased stopping distance.
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