There are two main types of brakes used on modern production cars. These include disc brakes and drum brakes. Disc brakes are most common today due to their capability of dissipating heat, and they are self cleaning. They are more expensive typically.
Drum brakes are cheaper, and are self energizing, meaning they can apply a greater force with less effort from the driver. Vacuum assist has made this advantage nearly obsolete. They also are insulated from the environment, however this is also a problem since brake dust builds up inside.
Stopping quickly and in an orderly manner is critical for the safety of a vehicle. Several electronic control systems aid in the safety of a vehicle. One of these is the anti-lock brake system (ABS). ABS allows the vehicle to stop in the shortest distance by keeping friction between the tire and the road at the peak.
Stability control is important for vehicles which undergo sudden changes, such as swerving. Stability control keeps the vehicle's steering neutral, attempting to prevent understeer and oversteer.
Traction control is important to prevent tires from spinning, and is commonly seen in RWD vehicles.
Now that you understand braking and some of the systems utilized to improve brake performance, let's take a look at calculating stopping distances of vehicles.
By now, you've pretty much learned the basics of an automobile. The next lesson will discuss forced induction and how to increase engine performance.