What's the difference between disc brakes and drum brakes?

As cars evolve, so do braking systems. Technology allows us to engineer the best parts to maximize safety on the road. So, what distinguishes drum brakes from disc brakes? Today we’re going to compare and contrast the two to better understand how they function.

Drum Brakes:

  • Named for drum-like shape. All brake parts are stored within the drum.
  • The older of the two service brake systems.
  • Rotates alongside the wheel. When the brakes are applied, brake, shoes are forced against the sides of the drum and the wheel is slowed.
  • Prone to brake fade, where you lose braking power over time from the buildup of heat in the brake system. • Still used in modern vehicles, but usually just in the rear.

Disc Brakes:

  • Started appearing in the early 60s as an alternative.
  • Built with a large metal rotor, two brake pads, and a hydraulic clamp called the caliper.
  • More stopping power than drum brakes.
  • Does a better job of dissipating heat than drum brakes.
  • Easier to inspect, no need to remove wheels.

While both of these systems use heat and friction to bring your vehicle to a complete stop, as you can see they’re very different. The disc brake system may be superior, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for drum brakes in the industry. As always, bring your vehicle to Ferber’s Tire and Auto for a brake inspection!