Disc vs Drum

Rotor (disc)

The rotor provides a friction surface for the brake pads to press against.

Brake pad

Brake pads press against the rotor, causing friction for stopping force. Brake pads are the primary wear point of the system, and are designed to be easily replaceable.


The caliper houses the piston, and presses against the brake pads.

Caliper bracket

The caliper bracket holds the brake calipers and brake pads in place.

Brake fluid


A hydraulic piston provides force which presses the pads agtainst the rotor. As the brake pads wear down, the piston slowly adjusts to make sure the pads make proper contact.

Slide pins

Cooling fins

Heat can negatively impact brake function. Specially designed internal fins act as a “fan” to pull cooling air through the disc.

Brake drum

The brake drum houses and protects the inner brake parts. The inner rim of the drum is the braking surface.

Backing plate

The backing plate is attached to the axle housing and does not rotate, providing a stationary base.

Brake shoe

Brake shoes contact the drum and cause friction to occur.

Wheel cylinder

As brake fluid enters the wheel cylinder, it pushes the seals/pistons outward, causing the brake shoes to contact the inside of the drum.

Return springs

Return springs pull the brake shoes off the brake drum when the brake pedal is not being pressed.

Anchor pin

As well as providing an “anchor” for the return springs to hook around, in some instances the anchor pin can also assist or replace the wheel cylinder in keeping the brake shoes from rotating with the drum when the brakes are applied.


By turning an adjustment screw, the adjuster can be lengthened to ensure that the brake shoes remain a similar distance from the drum as the shoes wear down.


Disc parking brake

Disc brakes often feature a drum-brake style setup, inserted into the central rotor cavity.

Drum parking brake

When the parking brake is set, a lever secures the brake shoes against the braking surface.

Parking Brakes


Disc brakes can be more convenient to service.


Essential disc brake components are exposed to airflow, keeping temperatures down and friction (stopping force) up.


Drum brakes are generally less expensive to manufacture.

Components are sealed inside the drum and better protected from harmful elements.


Created in partnership with Quote.com

Research & design by Animagraffs


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