Drum Brakes vs. Disc Brakes: Is One Better Than the Other?

As technologies and automobiles evolve, so do vehicle braking systems. Engineers are constantly thinking of innovative ways and methods to increase vehicle safety on the road. One invention that changed the auto industry, moving forward, is disc brakes. So, what are the difference between the traditional drum brakes from disc brakes? 

Drum Brakes

  • They are named for their drum-like shape. All brake parts are stored within the drum.
  • It is the older, more traditional style of the two service brake components. They're still used in modern vehicles, but usually just in the rear.
  • When a driver applies drum brakes, the brake shoes are forced against the sides of the drum, and the wheel is forced to slow down.
  • The parking or emergency brake can be incorporated inside the drum.
  • They are fairly more inexpensive in comparison to disc brakes.
  • The only major con is that they are prone to brake fade. In other words, you are susceptible to losing braking power over time because it takes longer to dissipate heat. 
  • Wheel removal is needed to inspect the drum brakes.

Disc Brakes

  • Disc brakes are the more "modern" option of the two service braking systems; however, they've been around as early as the '60s. They're commonly used today.
  • Disc brakes are designed with a large metal rotor, two brake pads (as opposed to brake shoes), and a hydraulic clamp called the caliper.
  • Overall, they offer more efficient stopping power than drum brakes. They dissipate heat more effectively due to the ventilation in the discs.
  • Less complex to service and easier to inspect because you do not need to remove wheels.
  • Your parking brakes can not be incorporated within the disc brakes as with the drum brake.
  • They're a bit more pricy than the drum brake system.
  • They can be prone to squeaking.

While both of these systems use heat and friction to slow your vehicle and bring it to a complete stop, they do have their lists of pros and cons. The disc brake system may be preferred by most modern drivers today, but that doesn't mean that drum brakes are horrible either. 


For all your automotive needs, including brake services, please bring your car to the experts at GermanTech MotorWorks LLC.