While we have discussed most major components of an auto brake system to date, one other major element relates to overall brake hydraulics. This technology provides the central motive force behind how a brake system works. Without this capability, no modern braking system will operate as advertised.
All components within a brake system are involved including; brake calipers, brake pads, brake lines, and brake rotors and act on the basis of hydraulic principles. Consequently, before we get into the brake system itself, let’s understand what the practical definition of brake hydraulics really is.
What are brake hydraulics?
In technical terms, ‘hydraulic processing’ operates on the basis of “…force directed from a specific point to one or more secondary points, thereby activating subordinate mechanisms by use of non-compressible fluid transfer.” However, to translation this definition in more practical terms let’s follow this logic schematic from end-to-end.
To wit; specialized brake fluid is pulled from a pressure-driven master brake cylinder through brake lines to subordinate slave cylinders located at each brake housing. Next, fluid is additionally pushed from the slave cylinder to individual brake calipers. These components house and activate internal pistons which ultimately drive brake pads against each brake rotor.
Altogether, the combined introduction of hydraulic pressure and mechanical activation, ultimately produces friction. This friction consequently retard the rotational speed of all four brake rotors simultaneously, based on a driver’s desired pedal intensity. That make sense?
Now that we understand a little about the underlying hydraulic-mechanical process, let’s take a look at how whole combination applies to the ‘average’ performance driver. How do hydraulics help your vehicle? The process involved in hydraulic brake systems are largely simple in mechanical terms, it is technologically dependable, applied pressure differentials are significant, and easily measured by the driver, and finally, costs are reasonable even given high-performance requirements.
What types of hydraulic systems apply to auto brakes? As suggested, it is rare that consumer auto braking systems don’t utilize hydraulics to control the speed of a car. While there are ‘other’ braking systems such as vacuum, electromagnetic, or air brake systems, in the case of auto performance brake systems, hydraulics is considered to be the preferred technology. What maintenance is required by a car’s hydraulic system?
While most consumer cars don’t typically call for regular maintenance schedules for hydraulic systems, there are some rules of thumb that can be useful. First, when investigating brake pads, brake calipers and brake rotors, it is useful to take a look at the stability of the hydraulic system at large.
This consideration means ‘feeling’ differences in pedal pressures; leaks associated with fittings, and brake lines adjacent to brake housings; or obvious drops in fluid levels when opening the master cylinder storage vessel.
Do I need to maintain the hydraulics? – Unless you have a fully-equipped shop with requisite tools, it is best to have an experienced mechanic deal with the totality of the hydraulic system.
What types of brake hydraulics apply to performance cars? – While hydraulics are typical in form and function between consumer and performance cars, there are some differences as well.
This usually involve ‘more or bigger’ components, including larger master cylinders and supporting components, the addition of more slave cylinders, along with the introduction of exotic materials.