The mechanics of braking

Most of us take it for granted that when we press on the brake pedal, our vehicle slows down and eventually stops. But how does this happen? Is the force from your leg really enough to stop something as big as a car?

In fact, your brakes require much more force than you can apply with your foot. Your car multiplies the force in two ways:

1. Leverage

2. Hydraulics





The diagram below shows the factors involved in Leverage.

L = Load
F = Force needed to keep the Load balanced
dF = Distance between the Force and the Pivot
dL = Distance between the Load and the Pivot



Leverage can be used to change the forces needed to balance or lift a load. Using the same principle, the brake pedal is designed in such a way that it can multiply the force from your leg several times before it is transmitted to the brake fluid.




- In any hydraulic system, force is transmitted from one point to another using an incompressible fluid, usually a blend of oil derivatives.

- In most brake systems, the force is multiplied during this process. All you have to do is change the size of the cylinders relative to each other.

- As the hydraulic pipe connecting the cylinders can be any length and shape, the system is very flexible. One master cylinder can even drive several slave cylinders if desired.


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