Calipers And Drums: Brake Systems Explained And When They Need Repairs

Brakes allow the car to travel safely on the road without being a danger. There are multiple parts of the brake system that work together to slow a car. The brakes themselves are the first level of control for slowing down. When applying your foot to the brake pedal, the master cylinder and wheel cylinders push brake fluid through the rotors and pads, which slows you down when you begin to push on the pedal.

Brake Pads

The brake pads are what stop your car when you press on the brake pedal. Brake pads have a very simple job: they're attached to the brake caliper, and when you press on the brake pedal, they squeeze against the rotor to slow down or stop your vehicle. There are important things to know about brake pads.


Calipers are the part of your brakes that squeeze the brake pads against the rotor to stop your car. Calipers generally consist of two parts: the caliper itself, which is secured to a fixed position on the chassis of your vehicle, and a piston or pistons (depending on how many calipers each wheel has). When you depress your brake pedal, it pushes fluid through the master cylinder into each caliper's reservoir, where it builds pressure that forces the pistons outward against their seals. This causes them to push against the pads and squeeze them against the rotors to slow down or stop your vehicle.


Drum brakes were once the most common type of brakes used on cars today. Drum brakes consist of a brake rotor that is attached to a flexible brake line that runs to each wheel. When you put your foot on your brake pedal, it forces hydraulic fluid through this flexible hose to press against pistons inside the brake rotors. This creates friction between two surfaces in the rotor, slowing down your car and bringing it to a stop.

Disc Brakes

Disc brakes are another type of brake commonly used on vehicles today. These types of brakes consist of two semicircular metal discs that ride on either side of an axle hub assembly and work much like drum brakes do: When you press down on your brake pedal, hydraulic fluid forces its way through flexible hoses into pistons located inside each disc at its outer edge; this causes friction between these two surfaces, slowing down your car.

Master Cylinder

The master cylinder controls your entire brake system. It's where all the fluid from your brake lines flows into and from where it flows out to the calipers when you press on the brake pedal.

The master cylinder contains a piston that sits inside it. When you press on the brake pedal, that piston pushes outwards and forces brake fluid into your car's brake lines. That, in turn, forces more fluid out of each caliper, which pushes against each of those pistons until they reach their limit.

Brakes are a complex system that requires periodic maintenance. Contact a brake service to take care of your car and ensure safe handling when you drive.