When driving your car, you can easily slow down or stop with the use of the brakes. The function of a brake is common knowledge. However, only few people actually understand how a brake system works.
Brake System Basics
Friction or the phenomenon of two objects resisting each other is the science behind brake systems. It is easier to imagine in lighter, simpler objects like a bicycle, although it can be confusing when applied in more complex objects like a car. For instance, a car running at 80 mph can immediately stop if the driver steps on the brake pedal. Does it mean that a simple press of the foot can generate enough force to stop a speedy car? Science, not human strength, makes it possible.
When the driver steps on the brake pedal, it is not his force that actually stops the car. His action merely triggers the braking mechanism of the car. Brake systems of modern vehicles make use of hydraulics, which allow the initial force applied to be multiplied in the process.
What is Hydraulics?
A brake hydraulic system is characterized by the usage of incompressible fluid. Liquid, unlike gas, cannot be squeezed. This characteristic of liquid has been used in tools and machines. In car brake systems, the incompressible fluid is called brake fluid. In hydraulics, brake fluids are placed between pistons inside a tube. Through the application of Pascal’s principle, the brake fluids transmit force applied at one point to another point.
Since brake fluids cannot be compressed, the pressure in a cylinder is constant all throughout regardless of the force applied at one end. So, to multiply the force, car brake systems use varied sizes of pistons. The piston that drives the brake fluid is designed to be narrower than the pistons that pushed the brake pads. This design allows the force to be magnified.
How Does a Brake Hydraulic System Work?
A hydraulic system is typically made up of brake pedal, master cylinder, brake lines, wheel cylinders and brake pads. Modern cars have four hydraulic lines operating in each of the wheel. As you stamp on the brake pedal, a lever beneath it pushes a piston that drives the brake fluid into a narrow cylinder. The brake fluid, in turn, squirts down to wider cylinders, pushing the wider pistons placed at the other ends. As the fluid enters the cylinders near the brake pads, the original force is greatly multiplied since the cylinders are wider. Then, this force pushes the brakes to the wheels, which cause the car to stop.
Written by Marc Laferierre, owner of Dents Unlimited. Dents Unlimited has the best auto repair Columbia MO has to offer, where their expert staff can get your car back on the road in no time.