Brakes on a car are one of the essential parts of a vehicle. Without brakes, a car can’t be stopped, making it impossible to drive!

One of the most common braking systems of modern-day cars is disc brakes. Here’s an overview of exactly how they work in keeping you and your vehicle safe and allowing it to stop.

Disc brakes comprise five significant components (along with many others!) – the wheel hub, wheel studs, the brake calliper, the disc rotor and the disc pads. Each of these components works together to help stop the vehicle.

Wheel hub

A wheel hub allows the wheel on your car to safely turn and keeps the car’s wheel attached to the vehicle. The wheel hub rotates with the wheel itself when the car moves.

Wheel hubs are usually a cast or machined metal part and sit between the car’s suspension and the wheel itself. A wheel hub will connect the car’s axle to the wheel and enable the wheel to spin smoothly, usually with the help of a bearing.

A wheel hub will typically have a wheel flange on one end for mounting the brake rotor and the wheel. On the other end, a wheel hub will have a wheel bearing inside or over it.

Wheel studs

Wheel studs are threaded fasteners that mount the wheels of most cars. They are usually mounted directly to the wheel hub. To help keep the wheel fastened, lug nuts are bolted onto the wheel stud to secure the wheel. 

Although wheel studs are mounted to the wheels, this is semi-permanent; when you remove your wheel to change the tyre, for example, the wheel studs remain attached to the wheel hub itself.

Brake calliper

The brake callipers on a car are basically mounting brackets for a vehicle’s brake pads. The calliper works in conjunction with two main parts – the brake pad and the brake disc or rotor.

Brake callipers are crucial in helping your car stop when you press the brake pedal while driving. The brake calliper is home to both your car’s brake pads and pistons; they help slow the car’s wheels by creating friction with the brake discs or rotors.

A brake calliper on a disk brake system will fit like a clamp on the disc or rotor to stop the wheel from turning when you press the brake pedal. Inside each calliper is a pair of metal plates known as brake pads.

When you push the brake pedal, brake fluid creates pressure on pistons in the brake calliper, forcing the pads against the brake rotor and slowing your car.

Disc rotor

The rotating part of a disc brake system is known as the disc rotor. The brake pads are applied against this part to help create friction and ultimately stop the car.

When you press the brake pedal while driving, the brake pad’s friction against the brake disc generates a considerable amount of heat – to combat this, disc rotors have vent holes so that the heat generated can pass through and escape.

The friction that is generated from braking ultimately transforms your vehicle’s momentum into heat. This is then dissipated through the disc rotor and vented to the air around the wheel.

Brake pads

Brake pads are ultimately what stops your car when you press on the brake pedal. The brake calliper forces the brake pads against the spinning disc rotor, creating friction and heat. As the brake pads touch the disc rotor, your car’s braking system converts the energy of your vehicle-in-motion to thermal energy.

Brake pads are made from a combination of materials that are designed to create friction when pressed against the disc rotor. Brake pads are usually comprised of different compounds – you’ll find organic pads, semi-metallic pads and ceramic pads, as some examples.

Brake pads are a consumable part that need to be replaced when they wear out. Need your brake pads, or any other component of your car’s braking system changed? Speak to the experts at Robert St Automotive. Our 24/7 online booking process lets you pick a time and date for your next visit!