Anchorage, Alaska
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What Are the Differences Between Drum & Disc Brakes? January 11, 2018

Anchorage, Anchorage County
What Are the Differences Between Drum & Disc Brakes?, Anchorage, Alaska

Like every other car part, braking systems have evolved over the years. While drum brakes were once used on all four wheels, today’s vehicles usually feature discs on the front wheels and either discs or drums in the back. Knowing which type you have makes it easier to understand what goes into brake repair services and how to tell when you need them. This guide outlines the characteristics of each system and how they differ.

Drum Brakes

Drum systems rely on a drum-shaped cylinder with an open back and brake shoes on the inside. The shoes press against the inside of the drum to make the wheel slow down when you press the pedal. These parts also feature heat-resistant properties to prevent overheating due to friction. The drum will last for about 200,000 miles before needing brake repairs, but the shoes need to be replaced more frequently because they make contact with the rotating drum and wear out.

Disc Brakes

brake repair Anchorage AKDisc brakes are more common in newer cars. Instead of enclosed drums, they rely on small rotors and calipers instead of drums to slow vehicles down. The calipers clamp together on each side of the rotor when you press the brake pedal to slow the wheel. Since this system is exposed to the air, it is less likely to overheat than the drum style.

How Do They Differ?

The biggest difference between these two options is that disc brakes do a better job of managing friction and heat than drum brakes, so they are more effective at preventing brake fade. This issue occurs when the brake pad and moving component no longer generate enough friction to stop the car. Additionally, disc brakes repel water since they are open, unlike their drum counterparts, which are closed. As a result, they operate better in wet conditions. By contrast, drum systems are easier to use with parking brakes, and brake repairs tend to be less expensive.


No matter which braking system your car has, the team at Professional Automotive in Anchorage, AK, has the tools and expertise to keep it in good working order. These mechanics are well-versed in essential vehicle maintenance services including brake repairs, computer diagnostics, tuneups, and oil changes. Call (907) 562-2471 to schedule an appointment, and visit the shop’s website to learn more about their services.

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