What factors affect a vehicle's braking system?

By Julia Freeman

We tend to take our vehicles’ brakes for granted; but in an emergency, they could save not just our own lives, but those of our passengers and other road users too. Hitting the brake pedal hard only to find that it’s unresponsive is something that none of us ever wants to happen, so take time to check that your vehicle’s brakes are in perfect working order.


There are two main braking systems used on modern vehicles: Hydraulic and Electromagnetic.

Hydraulic Braking System

This system uses a combination of brake fluid and cylinders. The pressure created by the ethers, glycol or diethylene, causes the brake pads to press onto the wheels, using friction to prevent them from moving. Hydraulic brakes have a low failure rate, are considered the most effective type of brakes and are the most common.

Electromagnetic Braking System

Electromagnetic braking systems are found mostly in electric or hybrid vehicles. They use the principle of electromagnetism to achieve frictionless braking. This increases lifespan and reliability.

Type of Brakes

There are two main types of friction brake components: disc brakes, and drum brakes.

Disc brakes are the most common brakes seen in vehicles today. They are effective and reliable, and do not overheat like traditional drum brakes tend to. They work using a combination of the brake rotor, caliper and brake pads. When the driver applies the brakes, the brake pads are tightened onto the rotor. This in-turn pushes the pads against the rotor, slowing the vehicle down and, when pressed continuously, ringing the vehicle to a stop.

Although drum brakes are no longer the most common component, they are still used in many vehicles. Brake shoes are used to slow the wheel when pressure is applied to the brake pedal. They are called ‘drum’ brakes because the components are contained in a drum-like housing.

What affects a braking system and its performances

There are many factors that affect braking performance, including:

  • Tyre size

  • Gross weight of the vehicle and the weight distribution on each axle

  • Wheel base

  • Height of the vehicle's centre of gravity (C of G)

  • Diameter of the master cylinder

  • Size of brake line and circuit type

  • Size of brake pad

  • Material of brake pad

  • Type of brake fluid

  • Rotor size and type

  • Caliper piston diameter and number of pistons

  • Brake pedal leverage ratio

  • Brake booster ratio

Additionally, overall braking performance and in particular braking distance, is significantly affected by the prevailing road and weather conditions. Therefore, many manufacturers recommend special winter tyres that are able to deal with wet, cold, snowy conditions during the winter months.

Tyre Choices

All Protyre garages stock a variety of car tyres. Our Premium tyre selection includes highly-rated and popular options from manufacturers such as Michelin, Pirelli, Goodyear, and Bridgestone. We also stock lower cost options such as Avon, Sumitomo, Fortuna and Hankook. In addition to these, thanks to our partnerships with numerous suppliers nationwide, Protyre is able to source any specialist tyre requests you may have.

All Protyre garages are staffed by knowledgeable and qualified fitters who will be more than happy to discuss your tyre needs with you should you so wish.

Book with Protyre

If you are unsure about your load rating or which tyres to get, click the ‘Find My Protyre’ button below and speak with the team at your local Protyre centre. With their wealth of knowledge and years of experience, you can be certain you will receive high-quality advice from our friendly team. Or you can book a free tyre check at a time and date to suit you, where our tyre technicians will be able to carry out a range of safety checks on your tyres to help keep you safe on the road.

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About the author

Article Author Photo
By Julia Freeman
Julia is Head of Retail Marketing for Protyre and loves engaging with customers and the business as a whole to make sure Protyre is more than just a local garage.
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