Brakes use friction to bring a vehicle to a complete stop. This friction creates a substantial amount of heat that can degrade the brakes and brake components over time. As a result, inspecting these components and ensuring proper operation has become a critical part of overall vehicle maintenance.
Your brake system’s rotors, in conjunction with the brake pads, help bring your vehicle to a complete stop. Commonly made of cast iron, rotors are discs that mount to the wheel hub. When you press the brake pedal, the brake pads compress against the rotors and slow your wheels.
In the brake systems of modern vehicles, disc brakes are used in both the front and rear of the vehicle. Front disc brake systems contain brake pads, calipers, rotors, and hydraulic components. In a disc brake system, the rotor is mounted to the wheel hub, and calipers are responsible for squeezing the brake pads against the disc in order to slow the speed of the turning rotor and bring the vehicle to a complete stop.
Whether you have a disc brake system or a drum brake system, you have a parking brake that is responsible for locking your vehicle in a parked position. The parking brake, also known as the emergency brake, is applied independently of regular brakes and is engaged by either pulling the parking brake lever or pressing a special pedal.
Some brake systems use disc brakes in the rear of a vehicle. Most rear disc brake systems contain brake pads, calipers, rotors, and a parking brake assembly. Calipers are responsible for squeezing the brake pads against the rotor, which is mounted to the wheel hub.
Some brake systems use rear drum brakes instead of rear disc brakes. Drum brake components consist of brake drums, shoes, wheel cylinders, and hardware including springs and self-adjusters.