Comparison of Disk Brakes and Drum Brakes

There is little hesitation in acknowledging that brakes are probably the most vital components of any automobile, more so from the perspective of safety. In this context, we have to understand that the brakes come in few varieties: hydraulic & pneumatic brakes, mechanical brakes and electric brakes. This particular write-up endeavors to compare disk brakes and drum brakes, both of which are subcategories of the mechanical brakes.

    • The drum braking system can be classified as the traditional variety, as their usage predates that of disk brakes.
    • Drum brakes come enclosed in a drum that is round and which spins together with the wheel. Here, you also have a pair of brake shoes that are present inside the drum. Upon exerting pressure on the brake pedal, the friction between the shoes and wheel slows down the automobile. On the other hand, a disk brake consists only of a small-sized caliper and a sleek rotor, to stop the vehicle.
    • The basic design of disk brakes is such that there is a continuous exposure to air. As a result, heat gets easily dissipated and this obviously enables enhanced efficiency. But, this is not the case with drum brakes where, accumulation of heat is more or less inevitable. The fact that this reduces the performance, especially in situations where the braking system is put to stringent test, necessitates no special mention.

  • No doubt, both these types of brakes fall under the mechanical category. Yet; only the disk brakes are compatible with all related latest technologies such as ABS systems.
  • Similarly, when the drum brakes are considered, driving in rainy weather could be a problem, for water gets accumulated in them. Over a period of time, this seriously impacts the braking system. On the contrary, due to the fact that there is no accumulation of water, the disk brakes never let you down even while driving in heavy rain.
  • Owing to the simple build of drum brakes, their repair and maintenance is fairly simple. This is in terms of both the cost and also the time consumed at the workshop. But, when it is the question of repair of disk brakes, a fair bit of complexity is involved; the resulting cost could be comparatively burdensome on your pocket.
  • Normally, disk brakes are seen in vehicles of low power that are of medium size and heavy vehicles rely on the drum brakes.

Drum brakes and disk brakes – the contemporary scene

It’s rather interesting to see that, despite the bigger advantages of the disk brakes, the drum brakes have not vanished altogether. Let’s have a glance at a few of the corresponding points.

  • In most of the latest automobiles, the disk brakes are used for the front wheels, while the drum braking is there for the rear ones.
  • The drum brakes are not as inferior as what they are thought to be, by most people. As a matter of fact, the design of a typical drum brake has significantly been enhanced, during the course of the past two decades.
  • It would not be an exaggeration to state that the present-day drum brakes are way ahead of the disk brakes of around three decades back.