Safe and Smooth Stopping: Comparing 5 Types of Brakes and Systems

Imagine this: you’re driving down the road, maybe singing along to the radio, as you approach a red light. You tap on the brakes to begin slowing down, but nothing happens.

Your brakes are failing, and you’re going to hit the car in front of you. It’s a terrifying scenario.

Fortunately, with regular maintenance and care, it’s not something that happens all too often. But, different types of brakes are made to last longer than others.

electronic motor brake

So, what are some of the most common brake systems, and how do they work? This guide has all the answers.

Keep reading to learn about 5 types of brake systems and how they work to keep you safe.

  1. Electromagnetic Braking System

In recent years, electromagnetic braking systems have started growing in popularity. Most often, you’ll see this system in hybrid vehicles or other modern cars.

This system relies on an electric motor to help your vehicle come to a full stop. Unlike other systems that rely on friction, an electromagnetic braking system uses electromagnetism.

A magnetic flux is passed in the opposite direction of the rotating wheel, creating an opposing force that slows down your car.

It’s an efficient method of braking, and it’s inexpensive, as it doesn’t require as much maintenance as other systems.

  1. Hydraulic Braking System

Unline electromagnetic systems, hydraulic braking systems, require friction – along with cylinders and brake fluid – to work properly.

In this system, a master cylinder connects to a reservoir of braking fluid through metal pipes. Then, rubber pieces are used to attach the cylinder to the wheels of your car.

The pressure created within the system causes your brake pads to push into the cylinders, thus stopping your vehicle.

This is considered to be one of the most efficient braking systems. It also has a low rate of failure, making it a popular option for many vehicles.

  1. Servo Braking System

Another popular system found in many cars is a servo braking system, which is also known as vacuum-assisted braking.

In this system, when a driver presses on the brake pedal, additional pressure is applied via a vacuum pump. This extra pressure helps stop the car, without any extra work from the driver.

This type of braking system is often used along with a hydraulic braking system. Unfortunately, this system is known to fail on occasion, which could lead to a dangerous accident.

  1. Frictional Braking System

One of the most frequently used systems, frictional braking does exactly as its name suggests. This system uses friction to slow down and stop your car, in conjunction with brake pads and shoes.

This system contains a stationary pad and a moving device that rotates when the car is in motion.

When it comes time to stop your car, the system uses friction to press together the moving and stationary parts of the brake. This opposing force stops your car quickly.

You can find a frictional braking system in many car models, as it works very effectively.

  1. Mechanical Braking System

If you have an older vehicle, there’s a good chance it has a mechanical braking system. What was once a popular option is now mostly obsolete, as it’s not as effective as newer technology.

When you press down on the brake pedal, that pressure is carried down to the brake drum, in this system set up. This pressure causes your car to stop but unfortunately leaves room for error.

This is the same system that’s also used for parking brakes or emergency hand brakes.

Because this system is not as reliable, there’s been an increase in the use of the electronic motor brake instead.

Common Types of Brakes

Now that you know more about some of the most common types of braking systems, let’s take a closer look at brakes themselves.

Here are the most common ones used in vehicles.

Disc Brakes

The most commonly used brakes in today’s world are disc brakes. They are fitted with brake pads and a caliper to stop your vehicle and are mounted on the front and rear axles of your car.

The brake pads on a disc brake then grab hold of a rotor, or spinning disc, to control your vehicle.

Disc brakes can use both floating and fixed calipers, but floating ones tend to be more common.

Drum Brakes

As an older style, drum brakes aren’t often found in cars anymore. However, on occasion, you can find them used on only the rear axle of a car.

Instead of using brake pads to create friction, drum brakes operate so that the caliper clamps down on the brake pads, pushing them into the rotor to stop your car.

This is a more complicated style of braking, and less efficient, which is why most automakers have moved away from them in favor of disc brakes.

Anti-Lock Brakes

If you’ve gone car shopping any time in the last decade or so, then you’ve heard anti-lock brakes (ABS) touted as an important vehicle feature.

They are not separate brakes, rather they’re a feature that works with your brakes to increase levels of stability when you’re driving during conditions that cause you to brake hard.

If you have to hit your brakes suddenly, an ABS system prevents your tires from skidding due to your brakes locking up.

This is an important safety feature and can help keep you protected during scary moments when you’re behind the wheel.

Understanding the Mechanics of Braking

Now that you know more about the most common braking systems and the different types of brakes used in most vehicles, you can use that knowledge the next time you drive your car.

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A better understanding of these mechanics can help you be a better driver, or at the very least, give you something to show off during your next trivia night.

For more helpful information like this, check out our other articles.