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Understanding automotive braking system

The automotive system will have been a killing instrument if not for the braking system designed to it. Braking systems have been to existence ever since the first design of the automobiles. The system inhibits motion by absorbing energy from a moving system.

Over the years, the advancement of technology has brought different designs and types and braking systems to vehicles. The fact is, they are inevitable on vehicles. Well, brake system components vary depending upon the model and types, but the fact is they serve the same purpose and have the same working principle. A braking system can be designed on any mechanical device where motion occurs, not just on automobiles. The system must meet some requirements which will be explained in this article. Some working performance must be meet especially on high-performance vehicles because they are now designed to go very fast. A huge amount of energy or stopping power is required to reduce the speed as well as stopping the vehicles.

braking system

Today you’ll get to know the definition, functions, components, diagram, applications, characteristics, types, working principles of the brake system in the automotive device.

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What is a brake system?

A brake is a mechanical device designed to restrain motion by absorbing energy from a moving system usually by the means of friction. It is used to slow or stop a moving vehicle, wheels, axle, etc. The braking system is a complication device with a lot of parts, but its working seems very easy. After all, pressing a single pedal will activate all brakes on the four wheels. The slowing down is achieved by hydraulic fluid, which is often bleed to get the best performance of the breaking. Air is not allowed in the system else the component won’t work well.

Most brakes are designed to use friction between two surfaces, they’re pressed to convert the kinetic energy of the moving object into heat. Though several methods of energy conversion are now employed. In an automobile, friction brakes store braking heat in the drum brake or disc brake which then gradually converts into the air.

On modern vehicles, the brake pedal is pushed against the master cylinder. There is a piston that pushes the brake pad against the brake disc, which slows the wheel down. On the brake drum, the cylinder pushes the brake shoes against the drum to slow down the wheel.

Functions of the automotive braking system

Below are the functions braking system used in the automotive engine:

  • A brake system helps to stop vehicles within the smallest possible distance. This is achieved by converting the kinetic energy of the vehicle into heat energy.
  • It also functions on a mechanical device where motion occurs, the brake is applied to stop it within a short period of time.

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Components of the braking system

Below are the components used in the automotive braking system:

Brake pedal: the component of a brake system is used to activate the brake by pressing it down by foot. It’s located in the middle of the accelerator and clutch pedal inside the vehicle.

Fluid reservoir: The fluid reservoir is the housing where the brake fluid or brake oil is store.

Fluid lines: The fluid lines are the pipes through which the brake fluid flows in the vehicle.

Brake pads: The brake pad is a steel backing plate employed on disc brakes. It’s often made of ceramic, metal, or other hard-wearing composite materials.

Brake shoes: Brake shoes are two pieces of sheet steel joined together so it can carry the brake lining.

Brake drum: The brake drum is a rotating drum-shaped component used in the drum brake system.

Rotor: The rotor is a cast-iron brake disc connected to a wheel or axle, sometimes made of reinforced carbon-carbon, ceramic matric, or some other composite.

Brake lining: A brake lining is a heat-resistant, soft but also tough material with high friction characteristics. It’s enclosed inside the brake shoe.

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Diagram of an automobile braking system:

components of automotive braking system

Piston: The piston is a moving component contained by the cylinder.

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Caliper: The caliper carries the brake pads and pistons.

Floating caliper or sliding caliper: the part moves relatively with the rotor as it uses a piston on a single side of the disc to push the inner brake pad into the braking surface. It then pulls the caliper body in to apply pressure on the opposite side of the disc.

Fixed calipers: the fixed caliper does not move in relative to the rotor, which works sensitive to imperfections. It uses one or more single pairs of opposing pistons to clamp from each side of the rotor.

Master cylinder: the master cylinder converts the non-hydraulic pressure from the driver’s foot into hydraulic pressure. it then controls the slave cylinders at the opposite end of the hydraulic system.

Vacuum booster: this braking system component is used to improve the master cylinder and increase pressure to which the driver foot supply through the use of a vacuum in the engine intake. This is effective while the vehicle’s engine is running.


The characteristic of a brake system includes peak force, continuous power dissipation, fade, smoothness, power, pedal feel, drag, durability, weight, and noise. Some other factors that are listed may be considered as the characteristic of a brake system. Continue reading to get to know them.

Types of braking system

Below are the various types of braking used to automotive devices:

Electromagnetic brake system

This is one of the rising design of the brake system, it uses an electric motor that is contained in the automobile. The motor aid the stopping of the vehicle. Electromagnetic braking system types are used in most hybrid vehicles where electric motor charge the batteries and powers the brakes. In some buses, a secondary retarder brake that uses an internal short circuit and generator is employed.

Frictional brake system

The frictional types of braking systems are common in automobiles. Their design is complex but serviceable and is typically available in two forms; pads and shoes. Just as it’s named, friction is used in the braking system to stop the vehicle from or device from moving. In its components, a rotating device with a stationary pad and a rotating weather surface. Band brakes contained shoes that constrict and rub against the outside of the rotating drum. Alternatively, a drum brake with shoes rotates and will expand to rub against the inside of the drum.

Hydraulic brake system

The hydraulic braking system types are composed of master cylinders that receive hydraulic braking fluid from a reservoir. Through connections of an assortment of metal pipes and rubber fittings, the system is attached to the cylinders of the wheel. The wheel features two opposite pistons, located on the band or drum brakes. The pressure pushes the piston apart, forcing the brake pads into the cylinders, which cause the wheel to stop moving.

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Air brake system:

The air braking system types are commonly found in heavy vehicles such as trucks, buses, etc. just like other types, the brake pedal is pressed. However, air from the atmosphere enters the compressor through an air filter to the reservoir through an unloader value. It further enters the brake chamber through a brake valve which is fitted to control the intensity of braking. This results in braking.

drum and disc brake diagram:

drum and disc brake diagram

Some other types of braking system include:

Perking and emergency brake system:

Parking and emergency types of the braking systems work with levers and cables where it’s controlled mechanically by force. Though it’s controlled using a button on newer vehicles to stop the vehicle in case of emergency or while parking on a hill. The system can bypass the normal braking system when it malfunctions.

When the brake is engaged, a cable pulls and it passes to the intermediate lever that causes the force to increase and pass to the equalizer. The equalizer splits into two cables, it divides the force and sends them to the rear wheels aiding the slow and stopping of the vehicle.

The braking system bypass other braking systems by controlling brake shoes directly. The system is beneficial if the typical braking system fails.

Servo brake system:

The servo braking system types are found on most vehicles today, they are designed to increase the amount of pressure the driver applies through the brake pedal. The system uses a vacuum in the inlet manifold to generate extra pressure required for the brake to happen. Also, the systems are only effective when the engine is running. In some vehicle designs, more than of the braking system is included as they work in unison to offer a stronger and more reliable system. However, the system fails occasionally based on the combination of the types of brakes, which may result in motor accidents.

Pumping brake system:

The types of braking systems are employed on automobiles whenever a pump is included in the design. It’s used in an internal combustion piston motor to stop the fuel supply, which in turn causes the internal pumping to loss to the engine, causing braking to occur.

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Working principle

The working of a brake system is quite complex, but with the explanation of its components and types am sure you are familiar with the terms used. There two kinds of brake systems; disc brake and drum brake. The disc brakes are used on the front wheels of automobiles while drum brakes are mounted on rear wheels. Though some modern high-end cars have disc brakes on the four wheels.

The driver presses the brake pedal and causes a force to be generated which is then boosted by the vacuum from the engine. Boosting allows the brakes to respond more quickly and effectively.

The force from the vacuum booster pushes the piston inside the master cylinder against the spring. This makes the brake fluid to flow under pressure. this pressurized fluid reaches the brake caliper (disc brakes) and brake cylinder (drum brakes) through the fluid lines.

Watch video to see the practical working of an automobile braking system:

In conclusion, the braking system in automobiles is very important and essential as the prevents the device from moving when required. In this article, we’ve covered various as an aspect of the brake system, where we explained its functions and components. We learned that the system can be designed on a mechanical system where motion occurs. Various types of a brake system are also revealed, as well as its working.

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