Brake Evolution

The History of Brake Repair

What goes up must come down and what goes fast, must slow down! In the case of automobiles, that’s where brakes come in. Over the history of automotive evolution, braking systems have come a long way, from rudimentary beginnings to a complex computerized system. The expert technicians at Jeff’s Auto Repair in Bellevue, WA know braking systems like the back of their hand. Let’s explore brake evolution to better understand the technology that keeps you safe everywhere you go!

The Power of Friction

Simply put, braking works by applying friction to a moving part until it stops. The first, most rudimentary braking system worked via a lever that, when applied, pressed blocks of leather against the rear wheels. Think of the disc brakes used on a bicycle and pads that compress against the wheel when you squeeze the brake. The first auto brakes weren’t far off from that same system. But soon, higher quality material was needed to increase the standards of safety. Leather wasn’t standing up to road tests over time. After the failed introduction of cable parking brakes, which frequently seized up, the first hydraulic brake system found its way into automobiles.

Innovation & Complication

Henry Ford revolutionized the auto industry with the infamous Model-T, a cheap and simple design that put more Americans behind the wheel of automobiles. Most auto enthusiasts know how much of a game-changer the Model-T was, but did you know that Ford innovated the braking system? Model Ts used foot-operated cables attached to a belt around a drum in the transmission. Hand-operated drum brakes served as an emergency or parking brake on rear wheels. Another automaker, Renault, took a different route with lined shoes that pressed against steel drums attached to each wheel.

Hydraulic Brake Systems

With 1970’s electronic technology, automakers started using hydraulic control units in braking systems. Hydraulic braking systems rely on hydraulic fluid to transmit force from the brake pedal or lever to drum shoes or disc calipers. Hydraulic pressure is different than using mechanical force to stop a vehicle and requires a master cylinder to convert force. The auto industry’s first ABS systems quickly advanced to enable autonomous brake application for traction and stability control and crash avoidance.

Written by Jeff's Auto Repair

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