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If you are buying a used or older car, you need to know more than the maintenance schedule of the vehicle's brake systems. You should know if the car has drum brakes or disc brakes.
Drum brakes are a more primitive design that and they are common in older cars. Drum brakes consist of two “shoes” that ride in the drum and when you push down on the brake pedal, the shoes push out on the sides of the drum and effectively slow the motion of the wheel. They have very little friction drag so they are good in racing. The downside of drum brakes are that they are less efficient and they have bad “brake fade” – so if you repeatedly stop hard from high speeds, stopping distances will steadily increase.
Disc brakes are more common in today's cars. They do have more frictional loss but they are far more efficient – better at dissipating heat – and easier to maintain, so ultimately they benefit you with lower costs.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|