Comparing Disc & Drum Brakes | Ellicott City, MD | AutoStream Car Care

Disc Versus Drum Brakes

A Tale of Two “D’s”

You know that brakes are for stopping your vehicle, but did you know that your car can have disc brakes, drum brakes, or both? While either is effective, they are very different in their working mechanisms. Regardless of your vehicle’s brake configuration, the ASE certified technicians at AutoStream Car Care in Ellicott City, Maryland, can assist you with all your service and repair needs.

What’s the Difference?

Disc and drum brakes have two similarities. Both stop your vehicle, and both start with a “d.” Otherwise, they are very different.

Disc Brakes

Disc brakes work by using a metal rotor inside the wheel. When the driver presses the brake pedal, the braking system, which works using hydraulic principles, forces the brake caliper to push the metal pad against the rotor. The friction between the metal parts slows the car.

Drum Brakes

Drum brakes work by employing brake shoes and a rotating drum inside the wheel. The shoes are forced against the drum when the brake pedal is depressed, slowing the vehicle.


Drivers may prefer disc brakes because they more efficiently get rid of heat. Overheating causes brake fade, the effect of having less braking ability when brakes are used frequently and/or repeatedly. Drum brakes are also more susceptible to problems during wet weather because water can collect inside the drum. However, drum brakes are still appealing because they are much less expensive and are a bit easier and quicker to repair. Therefore, many vehicle manufacturers use both types on new cars. Since most of the braking action is absorbed in the front, cars with both kinds of brakes have disc in the front and drum in the back. This choice creates a mix that is both efficient and cost-effective.

Proper Maintenance and Service

Whether your car has a disc, drum, or a mixture of brakes, it is important to have them regularly serviced and maintained, making repairs as necessary. You should never ignore the warning signs of brake trouble. If you hear unusual squealing or grinding when braking, you should have the components checked. Wobbling or vibrating when trying to stop is another signal. An illuminated brake light or leaking fluid requires attention, as well. If you suspect any braking issues or need more information about maintaining the type of brakes you have, contact AutoStream Car Care in Ellicott City, Maryland, for professional assistance.

Written by Doug Grills