10 Brake System Components: How Does It Work?

Vehicles are made up of several systems and components, all of which work together to keep them running. These systems can contribute to a vehicle’s performance, fuel efficiency, and how smoothly it rides among many other factors.

Of course, safety also comes into play. That’s where brake systems enter the mix. They consist of numerous components, and each one plays its own crucial role in making sure vehicles are able to stop when they need to. Take a look at 10 essential brake system components and what they do.

1) Master Cylinders

Master cylinders are hydraulic pumps that convert mechanical force into hydraulic pressure. When you press the brake pedal, it sends force to the master cylinder. In response, the master cylinder sends pressure and fluid through the brake lines to the calipers at the vehicle’s wheels. This is one of the main brake components you’ll see when you need to find international truck parts.

2) Brake Lines

Brake lines run from the master cylinder to the wheels where they attach to the brakes. When you engage the brakes, these lines distribute fluid and hydraulic pressure to each of the vehicle’s brakes. If the brake lines don’t do their job, your vehicle won’t stop the way it should.

3) Brake Proportioning Valve

Brake proportioning valves regulate the pressure and fluid that go to each of the vehicle’s brakes. If this component senses a problem with the front brakes, it’ll cut off the pressure and fluid to them and direct it to the rear ones. If it decides there’s a problem with the rear brakes, it’ll cut off pressure and fluid to them and direct them to the front ones.

4) Brake Pedals

Brake pedals are what you press when you want your vehicle to slow down or stop. When you apply pressure to the brake pedal, it sends force to the master cylinder. That engages the master cylinder, prompting it to do its job.

5) Brake Boosters

Brake boosters magnify the force you apply on the brake pedal. That makes it easier to stop the vehicle without forcing you to place excessive amounts of pressure on the pedal. They use vacuum pressure from the engine.

6) Anti-Lock Brake Modules

Anti-lock brake modules, as the name indicates, help keep the brakes from locking up when you need to make a sudden stop. When an ABS module senses that the brakes are going to lock up, it quickly alternates the amount of pressure being sent to the brakes. That allows your vehicle to stop while preventing it from skidding.

7) Rotors

Rotors are flat discs mounted inside the wheels. Some vehicles only have them on the front, but others have them on both the front and the rear. When you apply the brakes, brake pads press against the rotors to create friction. That causes the vehicle to stop.

8) Drums

Drums are usually used for rear brakes these days. They’re shaped a bit like bowls and mounted inside the rear wheels. When you apply the brakes, brake shoes press against the insides of the drums. As is the case with the front brakes, this creates friction that makes your vehicle stop.

9) Brake Pads and Shoes

Brake pads and shoes clamp down on the rotors and press against the drums when you need to slow down or stop. Disc brakes use brake pads whereas drum brakes use shoes. Both pads and shoes have a thick layer of material that creates the friction needed to reduce your speed and come to a stop.

10) Brake Calipers and Wheel Cylinders

In disc brakes, the brake pads are mounted on calipers on either side of the rotors. When you apply the brakes, the calipers and brake pads squeeze the rotors. For drum brakes, the brake shoes are connected to wheel cylinders. Those cylinders cause the brake shoes to open up and press against the drums when you press the brake pedal.

Understanding Your Brake System

These are some of the main components of conventional brake systems. Knowing what they are and how they work together can help you better understand just how important each one is to the entire system. It may also highlight just how crucial brake maintenance are repairs are for keeping you safe on the road.

Keep in mind, brake fluid is also essential. It may not be an integral component of your brake system, but without it, none of the other parts will function effectively.