How Do Brakes Work?

Most of the time drivers don’t think about the systems that make cars work.  We just want to drive from one place to the other safely and comfortably.

This month is Brake Safety Awareness Month, so we thought you might want just a bit more information about how your brakes work.

The Flow of Brake Fluid

Honestly, brakes are all about the flow of the brake fluid.  When you press the brake pedal, brake fluid moves from the master cylinder through metal lines to the brakes – calipers and wheel cylinders. The brake fluid forces the pistons in the calipers to squeeze a disc brake pad or brake shoe and push the friction material against the surface of the rotor or wall of the brake drum.  And presto, you stop.

When you stop pressing the brake pedal the pads and shoes go back to their “ready” position and the brake fluid returns to the master cylinder.

Anytime you experience a mushy brake pedal, there is a serious problem with your brake fluid and you could lose the ability to stop. This is obviously a dangerous situation and why you need to care about your brake fluid.

Disc or Drum

Disc brakes have a disc or rotor, a caliper assembly, and disc brake pads.  They are mounted vertically on the inside of the wheel.  Known for their stopping power, disc brakes also have the ability to cool faster than drums.

Drum brakes are contained in a drum with two curved pads that press against the drum causing friction and stopping the car.

A Word About Brake Fluid

Brake fluid, a type of hydraulic fluid, flows back and forth through the braking system as you press the brake pedal to stop or release the pedal to move forward.  Since the premise of stopping requires friction and produces a lot of heat, brake fluid must have a high boiling point to be effective.  Another purpose of brake fluid is to protect the system against corrosion.  Just like other parts of the braking system, brake fluid needs to be checked and changed about every two years in Houston because of our humidity.

Our Thoughts

During Brake Awareness Month, no surprise that our blogs will focus on brakes and how to take care of them – with a couple of other topics thrown in.  We plan to give you great information and some insights on taking care of your stopping power.

We are also adding pictures and an update on the renovation of our facility.  We’re excited about our new facility and invite you to come by and see our progress.  Of course, we’re open for business as usual.

Kathryn and Sybren
We can fix anything.  We just happen to fix cars.
Friendly & Expert Service Since ‘46

Adolf Hoepfl Garage
4610 N. Shepherd
Houston, TX 77018

Brake Awareness Month Special


Adolf Hoepfl Rennovation Update

Check out the big contrast between the first picture below – the empty shop right before the building is demolished – and the dirt work on the site after the demolition.  In the background of the second picture you can see the large vehicle shop that we’re currently using to service your vehicle.  

Empty Lot