Differences between drum brakes and disc brakes

Differences between drum brakes and disc brakes

Airbags, to avoid impacts when crashing; or the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), which prevents the tires from losing their grip on the road. These are some of the safety elements in vehicles that are always taken into account. But we cannot forget one of the most important systems: the brakes.

Over the years, we have been able to observe certain advances and improvements in vehicle braking systems, always providing resistance and efficiency when braking. However, when we talk about braking systems, the two most important ones come to mind: the drum brake and the disc brake.

If you want to know what are the differences between drum brakes and disc brakes, Frenkit, as a worldwide supplier of parts and repair kits for brake and clutch systems, gives you the possibility to know them. Read on to learn more!

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Drum brake: operation and components

The drum brake is characterized as an axle brake system at the rear. This system is actuated by depressing the pedal of the car, producing friction through the brake shoes, which press against the inner surface of a rotating drum connected to the axle or wheel of the vehicle. The drum brake has many advantages over the disc brake.

In addition, there are a number of components in the drum brake that make its operation possible, such as:

  • Brake drum. Made of cast iron and located on the outside, this part covers the mechanism on which the brake shoes brake. The drum brake, being the part that constitutes the rotating part of the brake, is the one that receives most of the heat produced when the brake pedal is actuated.
  • Brake shoes. They are in charge of pressing the internal area of the drum and generate the friction necessary for the car to stop. It is necessary to carry out a periodical revision and constant maintenance of the brake shoes.
  • Brake plate. This part holds the mechanisms: brake shoes, springs and cylinders, among others. The brake plate is made up of a pressed and stamped sheet metal support.
  • Pumps. Also known as hydraulic cylinders, they help propel the brake fluid through two plungers located inside. As a result, the brake shoes move against the drum.

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Disc brake: operation and components

Located in the front area of the car, disc brakes are the most common nowadays. It is characterized by being composed of a rotating disc and a fixed brake caliper.

Nowadays, disc brakes are the most common in newly manufactured vehicles. It presents different types of systems for their improvement, as is the case of the ABS system. Some of the fundamental components within this system are:

  • Brake caliper. It is in charge of executing the final mechanism of the brake system, which pushes the brake pads against the disc to slow down or stop the vehicle.
  • Brake piston. Located in the brake caliper, it is the part that pushes the brake pads against the disc to achieve braking.
  • Brake disc. This circular component is generally made of steel. The brake disc supports the braking action of the brake pads.
  • Brake pads. Brake pads provide the necessary friction to the brake discs in order to stop the vehicle properly.

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Differences between drum and disc brakes

Both disc brakes and drum brakes have their place in the market and each of them is intended for one vehicle model or another.

In high-end cars with minimal performance, disc brakes dominate the market. However, in more modest and simpler cars, drum brakes give an optimum result at a much lower cost.

Nowadays, new vehicles are usually fitted with disc brakes, but there are still models that are designed with drum brakes.

The following are some of the differences between disc and drum brakes:


The first distinction between the two is cost. Unlike disc brakes, the drum brake system has a much lower cost. In addition, it is also characterized by a long-life system.


Another difference between the two brake systems is that drum brakes have the major disadvantage of poor ventilation. This is due to the fact that a lot of heat is generated inside the drum, which is not eliminated quickly. In the case of disc brakes, they are the best option for high-performance cars. Although their cost is higher, they are much more efficient when braking, since they are exposed and can receive air continuously. This allows heat to dissipate much faster than with drum brakes.


As mentioned above, drum brakes are only located at the rear since less force is needed at the rear axle and they serve for the parking brake mechanism. The brake discs can be located either at the front or at the rear. When braking, the weight of the vehicle is transferred directly to the front of the vehicle. More braking force, more heat and more friction are required. This can only be provided by the disc brake. In addition, the brake calipers allow the installation of the handbrake mechanism.

Purchasing a vehicle with drum brakes does not mean buying a bad product, but rather that they are efficient and safe braking systems, although, as we have pointed out, they have their disadvantages. That is why, little by little, disc brakes are being used more and more.

Frenkit specializes in the manufacture and distribution of brake components, either disc or drum brakes for vehicles.

If you want to know more about our products, visit our website! There you will find a wide range of products and repair kits for brake systems.

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Tags: Drum brakes