6 Advantages and Disadvantages of Drum Brakes

If you inspect older models of cars, you will notice that they have a different braking system as compared to modern vehicles. Most of the older sets of wheels use drum brakes, which have a set of shoes or pads that press outward against a rotating cylinder part (called the brake drum), creating friction and allowing a car to halt. Others may argue that these stopping systems are outdated, but some disagree saying they still serve their purpose, which is to help a vehicle stop.

List of Advantages of Drum Brakes

1. The maintenance is easier.
Drum brakes have an all-in-one, enclosed design with most components being held in place by spring tension. This makes maintenance simpler and more affordable. For example, if you want to replace a set of shoes, you just have to pry the springs in the braking system loose using a brake tool. This will effectively pry the whole braking assembly apart. Then you can easily replace the shoes, reconnect the springs and brackets, then put the drum back on. This can be done in less than 10 minutes, requiring less labor and time, and in effect, requiring less expenses.

2. Production and purchase costs are cheaper.
Some vehicle manufacturers prefer to use drum brakes since they are more cost-efficient compared to disc brakes. And since the production of the car costs less, the selling price of the vehicle can also be less, making it more affordable and attractive to potential buyers.

3. You can use them with disc brakes.
If you need to keep your car expenses to a minimum but want to improve the performance and security of your vehicle, then you can continue to use drum brakes for the rear part of your wheels and change to disc brakes for the front.

List of Disadvantages of Drum Brakes

1. It can collect water.
Because it has an enclosed design, when the brake cavity gets wet due to rain, floods, or driving over a puddle, the water cannot be expelled right away. The collected water can reduce the frictional properties of the braking system, and this can be dangerous because the vehicle has a decreased stopping ability.

2. It experiences brake fade faster.
When driving downhill, making repeated harsh stops, or during panic stops, the drum and brake linings develop a lot of heat. This heat reduces the amount of friction between the shoe and drum, so the braking system of the car won’t be as effective as it should. Even if the driver would put additional pressure on the brake, it won’t improve the stopping ability of the vehicle due to brake fade.

3. It heats up more quickly.
As mentioned in the first disadvantage, drum brakes have an enclosed design. Because of this, the amount of air that enters the braking system is limited, reducing the cooling inside. Heat must then be dissipated through the backing plate and brake drum. As a result, the radius of the drum increases more than the radius of the brake shoe, creating a shift in pressure between the linings and drum. The stopping ability of the car is reduced by about 20 percent due to the change in pressure distribution between the drum and linings.

Author Bio
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.