Updated: November 16th, 2017
If you own a car, you should at least know how the brakes work. Knowing such information is important because its the first step to making sure your brakes work perfectly at all times. When you’re aware of how your brakes work, it’s easy to diagnose brake problems on your own and attend to them before they become severe. There’s no need of stressing the dangers of driving with faulty brakes so, let’s get right into it!
How Do Car Brakes Work?
Although there are different types of car braking assembly, car brakes work in a similar manner. All cars have a brake pedal that is connected to a master cylinder in the engine compartment. The master cylinder contains brake fluid. When you put your foot on the brake pedal, the master cylinder generates hydraulic pressure which in turn pressurizes brake fluid along brake pipes to activate pistons located in every wheel hub assembly. This action forces the brake pads to get into contact with the rotation parts of the wheels slowing down or stopping your car.
Types of Brake Assembly
The above information highlights how car brakes work in general. It is, however, important to note that it’s a bit more complicated than that when you dig deeper to find out what happens in the brake assembly. There are two main types of brake assemblies - namely disc and drum brakes. Most modern cars also have ABS (anti-lock braking system).
Let’s discuss each of these types of brake assembly to help you understand how each works. 
Disc Brakes
Disc brakes feature a brake disc, brake pads, and a brake caliper as the main brake assembly components. In a disc brake assembly, pressurized hydraulic brake fluid squeezes the brake pads against the rotating brake disc when you step on the brake pedal. The resulting contact produces friction which slows down or stops the vehicle. 
Drum Brakes
Drum brakes are composed of a brake drum, brake shoes, a return spring and hydraulic wheel cylinders. This brake system is most common in the rear wheels of low-performance vehicles. When you step on the brake pedal of a car with drum brakes, the curved brake shoes (which contain a friction material lining) are forced (by the hydraulic wheel cylinders) against the interior surface of the rotating brake drum. The resulting contact produces friction which slows down or stops the vehicle. 
ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System)
ABS brakes work by limiting, applying, and releasing pressure to wheels that decelerate too fast. This action produces maximum stopping force without having to lock-up the brakes and cause skidding. Your car’s ABS tests itself every time you turn the car on. If the car detects any defects on starting, the ABS light on your dashboard will come on. In such an instance, the car reverts to the normal braking system until the ABS defect is fixed.
The Parking Brake or Hand Brake
The parking brake is a lever braking mechanism applied to hold a car in a parked position. The parking brake isn’t exactly a braking system but an activator of braking components in the rear of a car’s braking system. 
The above information summarizes the most important info about how your car brakes work regardless of the type of brake assembly in your car. Most modern cars will tell you if there is a problem with the entire braking system, however, you can always do simple checks or be more vigilant if you notice any braking problems. For instance, if your brakes start grinding or squeaking, it’s time for a brake check or brake repair. Consider having your brakes checked at a reputable auto repair shop in Fairfax, Virginia.
Hogan & Sons has eight auto repair shops spread throughout Northern, Virginia and a team of highly skilled, experienced, dedicated and trusted mechanics. Visit our website at www.hoganandsonsinc.com. Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto has 8 locations throughout the Northern Virginia area to serve you including our Auto Repair Fairfax shop
*Always check your owner’s manual for your vehicle model’s specific instructions before attempting any type of repair.