Maintaining your brakes is one of the most important things you need to do to keep your vehicle safe and reliable. But did you know that there are two different types of brakes? Modern vehicles usually either use disc brakes or a combination of drum and disc brakes. Older vehicles may have exclusively drum brakes. In either case, if you need to have your brakes serviced or repaired, you should first figure out what kind of brakes you have, and then take the time to find a mechanic that services the right kind.
Finding a mechanic that does drum brake repair may be a little tricky since it is the older type of brakes. Drum brakes function by having two pads extend outward, and press against the inside of a drum located inside the wheel. The friction of the pads against the spinning drum transfers the kinetic energy of the spinning wheel into heat in order to slow the vehicle.
The drum brake system lasts a very long time, usually up to 150,000 miles. This means if you have drum brakes, you likely will only need to have it serviced once or twice in your vehicle’s lifetime. However, there is one flaw in this type of brake. While it resists wear and tear for a very long time, it is susceptible to breaking from the heat not dissipating fast enough.
The principle behind disc brakes is very similar to drum brakes. Brake pads are still compressed to slow the spinning wheels with friction. However, instead of pressing against the inside of a spinning drum, the pads are inside a caliper that is squeezed together to compress on a rotor. This system is more susceptible to wear and tear, meaning it does not last as long under normal use. The tradeoff is that this system is better ventilated, meaning it is less likely to break from misuse.
No matter what kind of brakes you have, you should find a mechanic that can handle it. Even for a simple maintenance task like replacing the brake pads is different between the two braking systems. The pads location, movement, and orientation are completely different, even if the function and purpose are universal. If there is this much difference in just a simple pad replacement job, then just imagine how much specialized knowledge is needed for a full repair job. Drum brakes, in particular, require highly specialized training and tools to repair.