Have you ever thought about how your car's braking system works? After all, you apply a small amount of pressure to the pedal beneath your feet and it miraculously brings a vehicle weighing more than a tonne to a steady halt. What kind of magic is going on here? Essentially, two different pieces of "magic" come into play to ensure that your car's braking system is efficient.
Special Fluid and Pistons
Firstly, the system has to be filled with a special type of hydraulic fluid that is not compressible. This means that whenever a force is applied at one end of a pipe, the hydraulic fluid will not simply absorb it but will apply the force at the other end of the pipe or tube equally.
Secondly, pistons of different size are used at opposing ends of the system, with a smaller piston near to the brake pedal and a larger version at each of the driving wheels. This helps to multiply the effect of the force applied, which means that a relatively simple action at your end converts into a much larger reaction at the other.
Transporting the Fluid
The braking system also relies on sophisticated equipment that has to be able to put up with extreme conditions without failure. This is most noticeable when it comes to the tubes and metallic lines that transport the fluid all the way from near the driver's footwell to the road wheel on each corner. Sometimes, the design of the vehicle will call for these conduits to be flexible and at other times they are solid.
In the case of a flexible line, this is typically made from a multilayered hose. The outer casing is toughened and is meant to protect against abrasion, while the inner layer is made of a special material that does not corrode when it comes into contact with the brake fluid. In between there is usually a layer of Kevlar which is a very light and flexible material that does not expand under high pressure.
Solid brake lines also have three layers of construction, but the inner layer is a much more rigid, stainless steel composite. These lines are almost always found through the main body of the system as they are more resistant to expansion when forces are applied. For your brakes to work most efficiently, the pressure multiple must be used efficiently by the calipers on each wheel.
Keeping Everything Efficient
More often than not, this sophisticated system works perfectly well and keeps you and your occupants safe. However, from time to time it will need a complete service and overhaul, so that it does not degrade and put anyone at risk. If you haven't had your hydraulics equipment looked at recently, take the vehicle into a mechanic as soon as possible.
I've been running an auto service shop for the past 30 years. The trends in cars have changed a lot over that time, and cars are becoming a lot more complicated and automated. People can't fix many items on their own cars any more as you need a computer to diagnose most issues. People use their cars a lot more these days as we live further away from workplaces and schools so it's important for me to be able to get cars back quickly. I have had to keep learning about how the new cars run and I keep a lot of hints on this site so you can all learn the things you can do to make your cars run better.