Braking System: How it Works, Types and Components

Regularly monitoring the condition of braking system elements in your vehicle is essential to ensuring the ideal conditions for a smooth drive.

This system is one of the most important elements of any vehicle, and keeping it in good condition is vital, for your own safety and the safety of others.

In this article, find out what it is, how it works, and the signs of problems in the braking system you should look out for.

 

What is a Braking System?

The braking system is a key part of vehicle safety, consisting of mechanical, electronic and hydraulic elements.

 

What is the Role of the Braking System?

The main goal of the braking system is to slow down the rotation of the wheels and make them stop as quickly as possible, avoiding car accidents.

 

What are the Components of the Braking System?

The two main components of the braking system are:

  • Brake pads, which slow down the rotation of the wheels using the discs;
  • Brake discs, which are metal elements attached to the wheel hub used to slow down the wheel in order to bring the vehicle to a stop.

However, some other components also make up part of the system, such as:

  • Brake splitter;
  • Handbrake lever;
  • Brake drum;
  • Plumbing and piping;
  • Brake pedal;
  • Brake pumps;
  • Vacuum servo;
  • Brake fluid reservoir.

 

How Important is a Car’s Braking System?

The brakes, along with the tyres and shock absorbers, make up the vehicle safety triangle. Any failure of these components will compromise driving and increase the risk of accidents.

They are the first element activated in an emergency. Once the pedal is pressed, the entire braking system is activated, the function of which is to bring your vehicle to a stop.

The extent to which a vehicle is able to stop effectively is influenced by its components, which means that the more worn they are, the less effective they are in situations where it needs to make an emergency stop.

 

 

What Types of Braking System are there?

The most common braking systems are:

 

Mechanical Braking System

For a long time, this type of system was used on old cars, but it has since been replaced with other braking systems.

This type of mechanical system powers the handbrake, carrying the force from the brake pedal to the final brake drum or brake rotor.

 

Hydraulic Braking System

One of the most common systems in modern vehicles, it works by means of brake fluid, cylinders, and friction.

The force generated in this system is greater than that generated by mechanical systems. Nevertheless, the probability of brake failure is much lower in the event of a hydraulic brake system due to the direct connection between the actuator and the brake disc or drum.

 

Pneumatic Braking System

Very common in lorries and other heavy vehicles, this system uses compressed air to activate the vehicle’s braking elements.

Once compressed, the air goes to two reservoirs: one for the front axle and the other for the rear axle(s) and possibly a trailer.

 

Anti-lock Braking System

The ABS braking system pumps when one or more wheels are at risk of locking during braking, applying pressure so that the wheel continues spinning.

This makes it possible to shorten the braking distance, even on roads that are in poor condition.

The ABS braking system is composed of the pump motor, the hydraulic block “HCU”, and the “ECU”.

 

What Types of Brakes Are There?

The most common types of brakes are:

  • Disc brake: connected to the wheel and/or axle. When activated, the brake pad is forced against both sides of the disc;
  • Drum brake: spins with the wheel, the back of which is covered by a backing plate on which there are two curved brake disks. When activated, the disks force the piston against the drums, causing the drum to slow down or stop;
  • Handbrake: this mechanical brake acts on both wheels, usually the rear ones, providing limited braking if the hydraulic system fails completely. However, the main purpose is to act as a parking brake.

 

 

What are the Differences between ABS Brakes and Conventional Brakes?

Unlike conventional brakes, which are mechanical, ABS brakes are based on electronically controlled sensors to avoid locking and slipping.

While conventional brakes don’t allow you to control the direction a vehicle moves in, even after emergency braking, the ABS system allows for all of this.

With conventional brakes, it is recommended that you continuously step on and off the pedal to prevent locking and slipping. When activating ABS braking systems, however, drivers can press down hard on the pedal until the car comes to a standstill.

Braking distance can be further with ABS brakes when compared to conventional brakes.

The anti-lock mechanism allows the driver to maintain stability, grip, braking, and steering control. It also makes it easier for the driver to avoid obstacles.

 

Which Tools are Available for Braking Systems in the KROFtools Catalogue?

The KROFtools catalogue contains various tools to aid you in correctly maintaining and repairing Braking System components. Here are a few suggestions:

 

Brake Discs Measuring Slider / Thickness Gauge

 

 

This specific tool is used to measure the current thickness of the brake disc quickly and efficiently without removing the wheel.

Click on the image above to find out more about the Brake Discs Measuring Slider / Thickness Gauge (ref. 5980).

 

Brake Fluid Purger

 

 

Easily remove unwanted brake fluid with this bleeder with a 1L + 0.75L reservoir.

Click on the image above to find out more about our Brake Fluid Purger (ref. 2507).

 

Pneumatic Pressure Bleeder Kit

 

 

This pneumatic tool allows you to remove and replace fluid from the brake systems of most vehicle models. It also allows you to remove trapped air.

Click on the image above to find out more about our Pneumatic Pressure Bleeder Kit (ref. 2508).

 

Brake Calliper Rewind Tool Kit 35PCS

 

 

Manually reset the brake pistons with ease with this brake calliper rewind tool kit. Ideal for replacing pads, compatible with various callipers. It includes threaded windback tools, adapters for various car models, and much more.

Click on the image to find out more about our Brake Calliper Rewind Tool Kit 35PCS (ref. 5959).

 

Why Should You Change your Braking System Components?

As it is made up of several elements subject to wear and tear, such as brake discs and brake pads, this system requires more rigorous preventive maintenance.

When required to bring a vehicle to a stop, an immediate brake response can only be guaranteed if all the components are in good condition.

 

How Often Should You Check your Braking System?

Unlike other components, braking systems don’t have an expiration date. However, on average, and depending on driving style, the system should be replaced every 30,000 to 40,000 kilometres.

 

What are the Signs of Braking System Breakdowns?

If your braking system malfunctions, you should try to solve the problem as soon as possible so that it doesn’t compromise your safety.

As such, you should pay attention to the following signs:

  • Vibrations in the brake pedal;
  • Slow response to braking;
  • Brake light on on the dashboard;
  • Soft or hard touch when pressing the brake pedal.

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