Is There a Specific Type of Brake That Is the Best?


Quick Answer

For most passenger cars, the use of disc brakes on all four wheels is generally considered the optimum configuration according to the automotive website Edmunds. However, drum brakes are still commonly used on many cars on one or both axles due to manufacturing and pricing concerns.

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Is There a Specific Type of Brake That Is the Best?
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Full Answer

Disc brakes generally provide superior stopping power to drum brakes since they are less prone to suffer the phenomenon known as fade. Fade occurs when overheating causes brakes to lose their ability to stop the car after extended or repeated episodes of heavy braking. However, passenger cars frequently use drum brakes on the rear wheels and disc brakes on the front. The reasoning for this design is to allow an emergency brake for the rear wheels as well as to cut manufacturing costs. Since most of a car's braking capacity comes from the front wheels, this setup retains much of the performance advantage of using only disc brakes for less cost.

An additional factor influencing the performance of brakes is their material composition. Brakes using carbon ceramic materials are lighter and have superior performance as compared to brakes using iron materials. These brakes are more expensive than traditional brakes, so they are generally limited to luxury or high-performance vehicles.

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