How Do Brakes Work on a Car?

How Do Brakes Work on a Car?

Driving has become so autonomous to the majority of drivers that we hardly ever stop to think about everything that’s going on inside the vehicle as e drive. The things that happen when you perform certain actions – placing your clutch in, changing gears – coming to a stop even. Its stuff that is furthest from our mind when we’re stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for 40km on the way home.

Well, if you have ever wondered exactly how your car’s brakes work – we’ve got it covered:


How Do Car Brakes Work To Slow Me Down and Stop My Car?

“A car in motion has a lot of kinetic energy, which is energy of motion. To stop a car, the brakes have to get rid of that kinetic energy. They do so by using the force of friction to convert that kinetic energy into heat.

When you press your foot down on the brake pedal, a connected lever pushes a piston into the master cylinder, which is filled with hydraulic fluid. That hydraulic fluid gets squirted along a system of pipes into other, wider cylinders positioned next to the brakes on each wheel.

This hydraulic system multiplies the force of your foot on the brake pedal into enough force to apply the brakes and make the car stop.”

h/t to wonderopolis for the info!


To Summarise: How Car Brakes Work

  • Your foot pushes on the brake pedal.
  • As the pedal moves down, it pushes a class 2 lever (a kind of simple machine), increasing your pushing force.
  • The lever pushes a piston (blue) into a narrow cylinder filled with hydraulic brake fluid (red). As the piston moves into the cylinder, it squeezes hydraulic fluid out of the end (like a bicycle pump squeezes out air).
  • The brake fluid squirts down a long, thin pipe until it reaches another cylinder at the wheel, which is much wider.
  • When the fluid enters the cylinder, it pushes the piston in the wider cylinder (blue) with greatly increased force.
  • The piston pushes the brake pad (green) toward the brake disc (gray).
  • When the brake pad touches the brake disc, friction between the two generates heat (red cloud).
  • The friction slows down the outer wheel and tire, stopping the car.


h/t to explainthatstuff.com – credit on information.


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