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What Are The Differences Between Drum Brake vs Disc Brake?

Oct 22, 2020


Want to know about the differences between drum brake vs disc brake as well as its pros and cons? This article will show you everything about these types of car brakes.

It is obvious that all cars need brakes because they all need to slow down or stop. Drum brakes and disc brakes are two common types of car brakes in today’s vehicles. While disc brakes are often used in the front wheels, drum brakes, in contrast, are often used in behind wheels. In this article, will explain to you about each brake type in detail.

Let's jump straight into the comparison!

disc brake

How disc brake and drum brake works?

1. Drum brake vs disc brake: The ultimate comparison 

The drum brake and disc brake are commonly used in modern car models nowadays. They both have the same features as below:

  • Either slow down or stop the vehicle’s movement 
  • Use hydraulic fluid to create friction 
  • Have pedal side 
  • Require forces on the pedal side to turn the brake system on

However, there are differences between drum brake vs disc brake as below: 


Drum brake 

Disc brake 



Drum brakes are structured a bit differently from disc brakes. It consists of shoes, a wheel cylinder, and a drum.

Disc brakes are set up there from wheel hub assembly, disc brake rotor, and brake caliper assembly. 

Working mechanism


When you put a force on the brake pedal, the hydraulic fluid will flow and press on the shoes located inside the drum. This force again pushes the shoes to press on the drum. The drum rotates with the wheel. These pressures create friction, which either slows down or stops the vehicle.

When you apply and put a force on the brake pedal, a high pressure made by hydraulic fluid from the master cylinder will push on the cylinder, then the piston. The pressure also is created against the surface of the disc brake rotor. The process continues with the hydraulic fluid flow back and pushes the caliper frame, then navigates an outer brake pad to squeeze against the disc rotor, and creates friction. This friction creates a force for the vehicle to stop.

Place of installment


People often use the drum brake at the rear of their vehicles, due to its ability to work as a parking brake.

People often use disc brakes in the front of their vehicles due to its stopping function.



Drum form

Flat (disc form)

Hyundai Eon

 On Hyundai Eon, the brakes were offered with disc at the front and drum at the rear.

2. Drum brake vs disc brake: Pros and Cons 

Car manufacturers tend to mix these two types in the same vehicle due to the positive aspects and drawbacks of each type.

Here are the pros and cons of drum brake vs disc brake:


Drum brake

Disc brake


Drum brake can work as a parking brake. It is much cheaper than disc brakes due to its lower cost of shoes inside and the drum


Disc brake provides the vehicle an effective stopping function, thereby disc brake is placed in the front wheels.  The disc brake is less affected by heat or water. Therefore, it can work longer than a drum brake.




A drawback of drum brakes is its internal part can be affected by the heat, and the drum can store water. 


More expensive than drum brakes due to more expense on caliper replacement and higher cost of the installment (all discs have to fit within the tire).  That is why people like to mix disc brakes with drum brakes to reduce the expense of the brake system without changing the braking ability.


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3. Drum vs disc brake: FAQs

The brake system in a car is quite complicated. And here are common questions about drum brake and disc brake that we often receive:

#1: What is a drum brake?

Drum brakes in appearance look like a drum and use a big cylinder that is opened at the back. When a force presses the pedal, the curved shoes inside the drum are pushed outwards, creating friction. This friction makes the wheel slow down and then stop.

#2: What is a disc brake?

Disc brakes, sometimes called "disk" brakes, use a flat, disc-shaped metal rotor that fits with the wheel. When the brakes are applied, the caliper forces the brake pads against the disc, slowing down the wheel.

#3: Why do so many cars use drum brakes in the rear? 

By installing disc brakes to the front wheels and drum brakes to the rear wheels, automakers can provide much of the advantages of disc brakes while reducing costs because drum brakes are cheaper to produce than disc brakes. Then again, a four-wheel disc brake car can still offer superior braking efficiency in wet weather and long devaluations.

#4: How to know if my car has a disc brake or drum brake? 

If your car has been made in the last thirty years, it most likely has disc brakes on the front wheels, and drum brakes on the back. If you are able to see any or all of the brake assembly, you can define the brake system of your vehicle by looking at its form and structure. While disc brakes are flat (like a disk) and installed a bit inside the surface of the wheel, drum brakes have the drum look.

#5: What is the difference between drum brake vs disc brake?

The features that can help to differentiate drum brake vs disc brake are heat-resistance and water-resistant ability. Disc brakes have better heat - resistance than drum brake, therefore it can keep its function working for a longer time than drum brake. The working mechanism of disc brakes also helps to kick water out of the device while the drum design of drum brakes tends to store water within.  

Drum brake vs disc brake

4. Conclusion

We hope this article has helped you understand the difference between drum brake vs disc brake, as well as the pros and cons. Parts for your brakes are now easy to access and there are plenty of ways to upgrade. However, there is a minor difference between their working mechanisms so that drivers should have various maintenance ways to keep your vehicle working smoothly with brake systems.

>>> Stay update with Hyundai Stories for more helpful car reviews and maintenance tips!


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