There’s no question that one of the most essential systems in your car is the brakes. Over time, automakers have experimented with many different types of brake systems. Today we’re discussing the evolution of brakes. By the time we’re done, I think you’ll have a stronger appreciation for how well our brakes work these days. Let’s dig in.
Wooden block brakes
The first automobiles used a wooden block brake system. This was made up of wooden blocks and a lever. When the lever pushed the wooden blocks, they got wedged against the steel-rimmed wheel. This created friction, which made the wheels slow down to a stop. Wooden block brakes had some limitations. For one thing, they only stopped vehicles that were going slower than 20 miles per hour. If the vehicle went any faster, the wooden block brakes wouldn’t work. In addition, they only worked on steel-rimmed vehicles. When manufacturers switched from steel-rimmed wheels to rubber tires in the 1890s, wooden block brakes fell out of use.
Automotive Mechanical drum brakes
Since wooden block brakes became obsolete with rubber tires, automakers needed to find another system to use. In 1899, an engineer named Gottlieb Daimler came up with an idea. He hypothesized that a cable-wrapped drum could stop a moving vehicle if it was attached to the base frame. In 1902, Louis Renault used this concept to build the first mechanical drum brake. This is considered the basis for the braking systems we use today.
Expanding internal shoe brakes
Mechanical drum brakes had a major design flaw. Since they were on the exterior of the car, they got exposed to dirt, water, and fluctuating temperatures. As a result, these brakes needed tons of maintenance. Eventually, an internal system was developed. Since this new system was shielded from the natural elements, it didn’t malfunction and lasted much longer than exterior brakes.
These expanding internal shoe brakes were housed inside a metal drum, which was connected to the wheel. When pistons expanded the brake shoes, they brushed up against the inside of the drum. This created friction, which slowed the moving car to a stop.
In 1918, Malcolm Loughead invented hydraulic brakes. Until this point, braking a car took a lot of physical effort from the driver. Hydraulic brakes made this process a lot easier. This four-wheel system used brake fluid to move hydraulic force from the pedal to the brake shoes. Since these brakes were much easier to use, they became extremely popular by the late 1920s.
Hydraulic brakes needed lots of maintenance because they often developed leaks. Since all four brakes were connected, a single leak could cause all of the brakes to go out. In the 1950s, automakers switched over to disc brakes that had hydraulic functions. Even though disc brakes had been around since the early 1900s, they didn’t really gain traction until this point.
Anti-lock brakes were first used in airplanes back in the 1920s and ‘30s. In the 1950s and ‘60s, automakers began using them as well. Anti-lock brakes prevent wheels from locking up when in use. When a lock is detected by the speed sensors, hydraulic valves reduce the pressure of the brake on one of the wheels. This stops the car from spinning out, and gives drivers more control. By the 1970s, anti-lock brakes became a popular and affordable safety feature.
Does your car need brake repair? Our experienced technicians at Lloyd’s Automotive are here to help. Give us a call at (651) 228-1316 to schedule your appointment today. We look forward to seeing you soon.
Master Cylinder and the History and Mechanics of it for the Automotive industry
The master cylinder is one of those car parts that always gets ignored. People don’t give it the respect it deserves. If you know a little bit about it, you’ll understand why some car lovers refer to it as the heart of your car. Today we’re talking all things master cylinder, so stick around and enjoy the ride.
What is an Automotive master cylinder?
First things first, what is it? The master cylinder is a tube that moves hydraulic force from the brake pedal to your rotors. Your foot hitting the brake produces a force. That force travels through the cylinder to the brake lines. The brake lines transport the force to your calipers, which clamp down on your rotors. This is what stops your wheels from spinning, bringing your car to a stop.
Let’s talk about why we like to think of the automotive master cylinder as the heart of your car. When you think about it, they both serve the same purpose. Their jobs are to pump fluid out and transport it elsewhere. If your master cylinder is the heart, think of the brake fluid as blood. The brake fluid gets pumped out through brake lines. Think of the brake lines as arteries. The similarities in these two systems illustrate just how vital your master cylinder is. Without it, the brake fluid couldn’t get to where it needs to go.
Mechanics to Know
Let’s get into some of the mechanics. When your foot presses down on the brake, it forces the pushrod into the sealed, dual-chamber master cylinder. Inside of the master cylinder, there is a spring and two pistons. Think of the pistons as plungers. They move brake fluid through the cylinder in each chamber. As the pistons move forward, hydraulic pressure builds. This pressure gets transported to the calipers, and causes them to clamp down onto the rotors. When this happens, your wheels stop spinning and your car comes to a stop.
The automotive hydraulic brake system needs to be totally sealed so no air can get in. A reservoir of brake fluid sits on top of the master cylinder to keep the master cylinder airtight. When you take your foot off the brake pedal, two things happen. One is that the spring in the master cylinder pushes the pedal back into place. The other is that brake fluid moves back through the brake lines and into the reservoir.
How did the Automotive master cylinder come to be?
Let’s talk about some auto history. Brake systems weren’t always this advanced. In fact, there were some big problems with them. The first hydraulic system was invented in 1918 by Malcolm Lougheed. Since he only used one cylinder, the brakes on all four wheels were connected. This meant that a single leak could cause all of your brakes to go out. Talk about dangerous. Even so, Lougheed’s invention got popular, and Chrysler eventually picked it up. They made some improvements and re-branded them as Chrysler-Lockheed hydraulic brakes. These were in use from 1924 until 1962.
In 1960, Wagner Electric came up with a solution to make hydraulic braking systems much safer. Instead of having one cylinder, they created the dual-cylinder system that we use today. With two cylinders, there are two brake lines. Each of these brake lines is connected to two of your car’s four wheels. That way, even if there’s a fault or a leak in one of the brake lines, your brakes won’t completely go out. In fact, the government issued a federal mandate in 1967 stating that all vehicles have dual-braking cylinders. It’s estimated that this safety innovation prevents around 40,000 car accidents each year.
Now you know a little bit more about the cylinder and how it came to be. Thinking about how far the cylinder has come probably makes you appreciate it a little more. Have questions about your master cylinder? Lloyd’s Automotive has answers. Give us a call at (651) 228-1316 to schedule your appointment today. Our experienced technicians are here to help.
Never Ignore These 7 Signs of Automotive Brake Problems
You never want to neglect maintenance on your car, especially when it comes to the brakes. If you pay attention, you’ll see that your car is actually pretty good at telling you when something’s wrong. Today we’re discussing 7 of the most common signs your car has brake problems.
1. Brake light illuminated on the dashboard
The most obvious sign of a brake problem is an illuminated brake light on the dashboard. When your car’s diagnostics system detects a problem with your brakes, it’ll trigger the brake light. There are several reasons why this happens. To get a clear picture of what’s going on, it’s best to get your brake system checked out by a professional.
2. Pulling to one side while braking
Veering to one side is another sign of a malfunction with your brakes. This usually affects your vehicle’s front two brakes. It could point to a worn out brake hose, a misaligned rotor, or a caliper issue. As a result, one side of your brake system tries to compensate for the other side. This causes your car to brake unevenly, and you’ll feel a pull in one direction.
3. Soft or spongy brake feel or leaking fluid
When there’s moisture in your brake system, you know you have a problem. This will cause your brakes to have a soft or spongy feeling when you push down on the pedal. Oftentimes, excess moisture in your system is due to a hydraulic fluid leak. Since your brakes rely on hydraulic force, a leak could cause your entire system to malfunction.
4. Burning smell while driving
If you think you smell something burning in your engine, you should always pull over. A burning, chemical odor could indicate overheating of your brakes. If this happens, then your brake fluid has hit a boiling point. This could lead to a complete system malfunction. If you think your brakes are overheating, stop driving and give your car enough time to cool down.
5. Grinding sound from the brake pedal
If you hear a grinding noise while braking, it could point to several different issues. It’s possible that your rotor is brushing against the brake pad wear indicator, which could lead to serious damage. It’s also possible that you have a pebble stuck inside the caliper. This is a relatively minor issue. Rusty brake parts could also cause a grinding noise. No matter the problem, professional diagnostics can easily get to the bottom of things.
6. Squealing noise when braking
Brake pad wear indicators alert you when the brake shoes or calipers wear out. These metallic indicators brush up against the rotor and make a horrendously high-pitched sound. Hearing your brake pad indicators is a clear sign of brake issues.
7. Wobbling or vibration
An uneven rotor could cause you to feel a wobbling or vibrating sensation while driving. Over time, rotors develop variations on their surfaces. Because of these differences in thickness, you’ll experience wobbling when you step on the brakes. A problem with your calipers could also cause a vibrating motion in your car. If the caliper’s piston is encased with rust or other debris, it won’t be able to retract.
Being aware of these common warning signs can help you be proactive when it comes to repairs and maintenance. Regardless of the issue, our experienced technicians at Lloyd’s Automotive are always here to help. Give us a call at (651) 228-1316 to schedule your appointment today. We look forward to seeing you soon.
What Every Car Owner Needs to Know About Replacing the Brakes
Brake replacement isn’t an easy job. In fact, it’s almost always more complicated than it seems. That’s because your brakes are an interconnected system. Discovering one problem can impact the functioning of other parts. Even so, there’s a general process for replacing the brake system that we’ll talk about today. Knowing this can help you decide whether it’s a job you can take on, or if you’d prefer to seek professional care.
Steps to replacing the brake system
Experts follow these general steps when replacing the brakes:
- Loosen the lugs: Once the emergency brake is engaged, loosen the lugs by turning a lug wrench counter-clockwise. Don’t remove the lugs; just loosen them up.
- Raise the vehicle: Put the jack beneath the frame rail of your car. Make sure your car can rest on the jack stands, and ensure that the car’s weight can’t shift. Once you know it’s stable, remove the wheels.
- Slide out the caliper: Disconnect the bolts and remove the caliper. If it’s stuck, use a flat head screwdriver to help dislodge it. Once it’s out, set the caliper on the suspension so there’s no strain on your brake lines.
- Remove the caliper carrier: Take off the bolts and remove the caliper carrier.
- Remove the rotor: Look for a rotating screw on your rotor. If you see one, it needs to be removed before taking out the rotor. Removing the rotor itself can sometimes prove to be a challenge. This is especially true if it’s rusty or old.
- Install new rotor: Before installing, remove surface rust from the hub with a wire brush. Then, use a degreaser to wipe down your new rotor. This will remove excess oily residue. Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to install your new rotor.
- Assemble caliper carrier: Fasten the caliper carrier with new bolts.
- Compress the caliper: Check that the cap is removed from the reservoir so you don’t blow a line, and then compress the caliper. Use an old brake pad and a c-clamp to push the caliper’s piston down so it’s lined up with the housing of the caliper.
- Install caliper and brake pads: Place the brake pads in the caliper carrier and attach the bolts. After ensuring the caliper can move without binding, tighten the bolts.
- Reattach the wheels: Fasten the lugs. Once your car is back on the ground, tighten them with a torque wrench.
- Repeat, pump, and break in: Complete these steps for all your wheels. Then, pump your brake pedal to get pressure back into your system. This should take around 3 pumps of the pedal. Once you have pressure, take your car for a ride to break in your new brakes. Go through a few rounds of speeding up and gradually slowing back down. Your automotive will probably make some odd noises at first, but this is normal. These noises will eventually subside as your system breaks in.
Should I replace my own brakes?
Unless you have lots of experience in troubleshooting brake issues, replacing your own brakes isn’t recommended. Since it’s usually more involved than anticipated, it’s a job that’s best left to the professionals. Vehicle safety isn’t something you want to be unsure about. Trusting an expert gives you peace of mind that your system is installed properly and with care.
Do you have questions about brake replacement? Lloyd’s Automotive has answers. Give us a call at (651) 228-1316 to schedule your appointment today. We look forward to seeing you soon.