There are two types of braking systems used in today’s vehicles, drum brakes and disc brakes. Both systems use hydraulics to press a brake pad or shoe to the rotating surface attached to the axle. Though very common on older vehicles, today drum brakes are primarily found on the rear axle of lighter vehicles such as the Honda Civic, the Toyota Corolla, and the Ford Ranger, or larger work vehicles such as box trucks.
Drum brakes were first patented in 1902 by Louis Renault. They were used at all four wheel positions on most vehicles throughout the first half of the 20th century. Disc brake systems were developed around the same time, but were not adopted into widespread use until after World War II. In 1953, Jaguar won the 24 Hour Le Mans race in large part because the disc braking system it used had superior stopping power to the drum brake. From that point on there was a large-scale shift from drum brakes to disc brakes. Drum brakes are still made today, but they are much less prevalent than they were from 1900 to the 1980’s.
Drum Brake Systems have 4 primary components, the brake drum, the brake shoes, the wheel cylinder, and a variety of metal springs and clips usually referred to as the hardware kit.