Over the years, manufacturers have trialled many systems and types of material to slow their cars down as quickly as possible, and as the vehicles have gotten faster, the development of braking systems has needed to keep pace, and as the population grows and the roads are more congested, with an even greater number of distractions, these improvements have actually needed to outstrip advancements in other areas. From the very early days of a piece of timber levered against the wheel rim, to mechanically operated drum brakes where a pair of semi circular shoes were lined with asbestos facings, that were pressed against the machined inside surface of a cast iron drum. using a series of rods, levers and rotating cams to provide the pressure. Originally this was all done with a hand operated lever mounted to the outside of the car and only provided braking to the rear (drive) wheels.
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It soon became obvious that a faster and more efficient system was needed, and preferably something that did not require letting go of the steering wheel. To this end, brake pedals were quickly introduced, and this then progressed to braking effort being applied to all 4 wheels. The next evolution saw hydraulics introduced. This meant that the brakes were applied by the transfer of a non compressible fluid, eliminating the issue of wear and possible breakages of solid linkages. Disc brakes were also introduced as it was found that more consistent force could be applied by pressing 2 brake pads onto a spinning rotor, but the early disc pads (usually only on the front wheels) needed more pedal pressure than drum brakes generally required. This saw the introduction of power boosters being fitted. These used vacuum from the operation of the engine to apply a force to a rubber diaphragm to increase the pressure to the master cylinder.
There have been other methods, to apply the force to the brake pads/shoes, designed over the years, including the use of compressed air and air over hydraulic, but these have tended to be used more in commercial vehicles, partly due to the lack of readily available engine vacuum in diesel powered vehicles, and the extra (and varying) weight of the vehicles. In 2005 the use of asbestos was banned in motor vehicles, and brake manufacturers had to find new compositions for the pads & linings. Unfortunately, nothing really comes close to asbestos for heat tolerance and dissipation, wear factor, low dust or noise levels, so brake pads since then have come in a wide variety of compounds to cover the wide range of demands put on brakes. Hard pads that are required for heavy vehicles or in fast driving situations will tend to be noisier and wear rotors much faster than those used in light passenger commuting vehicles. These new brakes also tend to create much more black dust and often create a squeal, especially if both the pad & rotor characteristics don’t match each other and style of the driver. Many people who are ultra light brakers find they have a problem with brakes squealing due to the fact that the light pressure applied can actually polish the pads & rotors rather than biting in. The use of ceramics is now starting to gain momentum, especially in sports & racing situations, and I am guessing that we will see this more commonly in the near future.
It was not long before the benefits of 4 wheel disc brakes saw most vehicles head this way, and as computer systems in cars progressed, anti-lock brake systems were developed. These systems use speed sensors on each wheel and when the computer gets a signal that a wheel has locked up, it releases brake pressure to that wheel enough for it to start rotating again. This provides much quicker deceleration than locked wheels especially on hard surfaces. Today’s braking systems do so much more than just applying friction to slow your car down. With the technology developed in ABS systems designers were then able to link the brake system to the rest of the cars computers and develop stability control systems that assist the driver to maintain control while swerving around unforseen issues on the road. And now the latest evolution that we are seeing is a system that monitors the path ahead & will apply the brakes to stop your car to avoid a collision with something that you as a driver may have not seen or misjudged. As we head towards driverless cars we wonder just how for and where all this technology is taking us. And to think that the very first car was only invented about 130 years ago!
Viva Auto Repairs are a brake repair centre that will look after all your braking needs. From replacing brake pads and linings, to a full hydraulic system overhaul or hand brake repairs Adelaide and adjustment. Most late model vehicles are fitted with electrically operated hand brakes and these require special tools to retract the rear calliper before fitting the new brakes. These days with ABS, anti skid and traction control technology, up to date knowledge and experience is essential to maintaining the braking system on modern cars, making it not only very hard, but extremely dangerous for the home “mechanic” to successfully to get the job done correctly. We can machine your disc rotors and/or drums and fit the correct grade of brake pad to suit your driving situation. Maybe you do a lot of towing or stop start city driving where a heavy duty pad may be better suited. If you drive hard through the hills, a performance or even a road/track pad might be the go, matched to some slotted or cross drilled rotors. If you drive a classic or older car that needs attention to the hydraulic cylinders we can supply stainless steel re-sleeved cylinders that should last the life of the vehicle, especially with regular brake fluid changes every 2 years.
Viva Auto Repairs are best brake repairs Adelaide and you can be confident that they will be there when you really need them.