The Anatomy of Your Brake System

brake systemAfter the powertrain, the brake system is the second most important system on your car — and the most important safety feature.

Without brakes, almost every trip of any distance would end with an auto collision. Because of their importance, it’s a good idea that every driver has a basic understanding of how a brake system works.

A brake system has multiple components:

  • The brake pedal is what activates the system.
  • The pedal activates the master cylinder, which sends brake fluid to the four wheels.
  • Brake fluid is a type of oil. It provides pressure to operate the hydraulic cylinders, or pistons, that physically apply the brake pads.
  • Brake lines are the metal tubes or rubber hoses that carry the brake fluid to each wheel.
  • In disc brake systems, calipers hold the brake pads at each wheel. The hydraulic wheel cylinders are contained within the calipers and essentially close the calipers so that the pads clamp down on each side of the disc.
  • The brake pads provide the friction that causes each wheel to slow down. Because of this friction, brake pads do wear out as part of normal operation and have to be replaced occasionally.
  • The disc is what it sounds like: a disc-shaped piece of metal (or, in the case of some sports cars, ceramic or carbon fiber) that forms part of the wheel hub and gives the pads a surface to rub against.
  • In some vehicles the rear brake pads press outward against a drum rather than pressing inward against a disc. Drum brakes are most common on trucks, but they are also used on some cars (including many hybrids).

If any one of those parts fails, the entire brake system will fail. Because of this, it’s wise to inspect all of the brake system components regularly in order to catch any developing problems before they become dangerous.

All cars will need their brakes worked on eventually, but you can effectively avoid such problems by utilizing lease transfers to stay in a low-mileage car. If you have any questions about how lease transfers work, please contact us at

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