A Brief History of Your Car’s Braking System and Master Cylinder
Have you ever thought about how much we rely on our brakes? The master cylinder, and other parts of the brake system are important. With the evolution of the automobile, our braking systems have gotten more and more complex. To appreciate how far we’ve come, let’s go back to the 1800s to find out how automotive braking systems started out.
Wooden block brakes
Over the years, cars have used many different types of brakes. The earliest system was made up of a lever and wooden blocks. The lever moved a block of wood against steel-rimmed wheels to bring them to a stop. Wooden block brakes were originally used on horse-drawn carriages and steam-driven automobiles. They could stop a vehicle going around 10 to 20 miles per hour.
Mechanical drum brakes
Since wooden block brakes couldn’t stop rubber wheels, cars needed a new brake system. In 1899, Gottlieb Daimler reasoned that if a cable-wrapped drum was anchored to the vehicle’s chassis, it could stop momentum. Louis Renault advanced this idea. In 1902, he developed the mechanical drum brake. This is considered to be the basis for the modern braking system. Because this system was external, it was exposed to natural elements and temperature fluctuations. As a result, these systems experienced a lot of wear and often malfunctioned.
Expanding internal shoe brakes
The internal shoe brake was the first brake system placed inside the vehicle’s frame. The system itself was made up of brake shoes, springs, and pistons. Pistons expanded the brake shoes until they rubbed the inside of the drum. This friction caused the wheels to slow down, stopping the car. This was a significant development in auto braking systems. By protecting the brakes, they were able to last much longer.
In 1918, Malcolm Loughead invented the first four-wheel hydraulic braking system. It used brake fluid to move force from the brake pedal to the brake shoe. Loughead’s system required much less effort to apply the brakes. By the late 1920s, nearly every vehicle adopted this system.
In the late 1890s, rubber tires replaced steel-rimmed wheels. As a result, wooden block brakes became obsolete. The disc brake was patented in 1902 by William Lanchester, but it didn’t become popular until the mid-20th century. At that time, the speed capabilities and weights of vehicles were increasing. As a result, hydraulic brakes became less effective at distributing heat. The Chrysler Imperial was the first model to incorporate disc brakes with hydraulic functions.
Anti-lock brakes are a safety feature made to prevent brakes from locking up when in use. When a lock is detected by speed sensors, hydraulic valves reduce the pressure of a brake on a single wheel. This prevents the vehicle from spinning. Anti-lock brakes modernized the way brakes function because they give the driver more control. The first anti-lock brakes were used on airplanes in the 1920s and ‘30s. They were developed for automobiles and improved on throughout the 1950s and ‘60s. By the 1970s, anti-lock brakes became more affordable and commonplace.
What does a master cylinder do?
What is a master cylinder, and how does it operate? Even though it’s an essential component of your car’s brake system, it often goes unrecognized. In this article, we’re discussing the history of the master cylinder and how they work. The master cylinder is a tube in your brake system that lets you move hydraulic force from one part of the system to another. The original force comes from your foot pushing down on the brake pedal. That force gets moved through it to your brake calipers. These clamp down on your rotors to stop your vehicle.
People who know a thing or two about cars will tell you that the heart of your car is the master cylinder. Like your heart pumps blood out through your arteries, the master cylinder pumps brake fluid out through brake lines.
How the Pistons work with the Master Cylinder
Pushing down on the brake causes the pushrod to enter one end of the master cylinder. Inside, there’s brake fluid, springs, and two pistons. Likewise, pistons operate like plungers. They move the brake fluid through it and out to the brake lines. The brake lines carry them to your four wheels. Springs push back against the force of the brake pedal. This is why your pedal returns to its normal position when you take your foot off of it. To make sure no air enters the master cylinder, there’s a reservoir of brake fluid above it.
Today’s master cylinders have two brake lines. In our metaphor, the brake lines are arteries, so they transport fluid out of the master cylinder. Each brake line leads to two wheels which are diagonally-opposed. This is done as a safety measure to make sure your brakes will still work, even if one of the brake lines has a leak. The two brake lines move the brake fluid into cylinders on the brake calipers. This force causes the caliper to clamp down on the rotor, stopping it from moving.
Who invented the master cylinder?
The first person to make a brake system using liquid pressure in cylinders and tubes was Malcolm Lougheed. He invented his hydraulic brake system in 1918. These were an improvement to mechanical brakes, because they required a lot less force to operate. However, this original hydraulic system tended to have lots of problems with leaking.
Chrysler improved on Lougheed’s original system, and renamed them Chrysler-Lockheed hydraulic brakes. These were used in their vehicles from 1924 all the way up to 1962. Car manufacturers all ended up converting to hydraulic braking systems by the 1940s.
Dual-Cylinder Master Cylinder
The dual-cylinder brake system was invented in 1960 by Wagner Electric. This system had a dual master cylinder so it could separate rear and front hydraulic lines. This meant that if one line leaked, the other one could still operate. In other words, your brakes wouldn’t die if there was a leak, because the other line could still operate. The federal government mandated the use of dual-braking master cylinders in 1967. It’s estimated that doing so prevents 40,000 accidents each year.
Now that you know a little more about your master cylinder, take some time to appreciate it. If you think you have a maintenance issue with your master cylinder, give us a call. Our experts at Service Garage of Blaine are here for you. Schedule your appointment today at (763) 792-4949.
7 Warning Signs that Indicate Brake Problems
It’s never a good idea to procrastinate when it comes to car maintenance. This is especially true with your brakes. Thankfully, our cars know how to let us know when there’s a problem. Today we’re looking at the top 7 symptoms of an unhealthy braking system.
1. Wobbling or vibration
If you notice wobbling when you step on the brakes or vibration in the steering wheel, you may have a brake problem. One reason this could be happening is an uneven rotor. As time passes, rotors develop variations. The tiniest change in disc thickness can cause wobbling when you hit the brakes.
It can also mean that the brake caliper isn’t releasing correctly. The caliper’s piston can get stuck from excess build-up or rust. This results in it not retracting all the way when you take your foot off the brake pedal. You’ll feel this as a wobbling or vibrating sensation when you brake.
2. Grinding sound from the brake pedal
Do you notice a grinding sound that you can feel in the brake pedal? This could be a minor problem, like a loose stone stuck in the caliper. But, it could also indicate a more serious issue, like worn down brake pads. If this is the case, the metal indicator could be scraping against the rotor, damaging it. If your brake shoe has a lot of rust around it, this could also cause a scraping noise.
3. Soft or spongy brake feel or leaking fluid
A spongy or soft brake pedal probably means there’s moisture or a leak in your system. Although this doesn’t happen too often, the pressurized hydraulic brake fluid can leak. If this happens, your brake pads might not have the power to clamp onto the rotors. If you’re experiencing this brake malfunction, seek help right away.
4. Brake light illuminated on the dashboard
A brake light is the most obvious sign of a problem with your brakes. This warning light gets triggered by your car’s diagnostics system for a variety of reasons. It can mean you’re due for an inspection, or it can indicate a malfunction with your braking system.
5. Squealing noise when braking
Your brake pad wear indicators are designed to let you know when the brake shoes or caliper pads are worn out. They’re made of metal, so they make a horrible squealing noise when they come in contact with the rotor. When you hear this, it’s time to schedule maintenance.
6. Burning smell while driving
If you notice a burning or chemical smell, pull over right away. This could mean you have overheated brakes and you’ll need to let them cool down. An overheated system means your brake fluid has possibly reached a boiling point. If this happens, you’ll experience brake failure.
7. Pulling to one side while braking
If your car keeps pulling to one side when you’re braking, it’s usually a sign of a problem with your front two brakes. It could be a worn out brake hose, a caliper issue, or a misaligned rotor. These issues cause one side of the brakes to work harder than the other side, causing your car to veer to one side.
The most important safety system in your vehicle is your brakes. If you experience any of these 7 symptoms of brake failure, give us a call right away. Service Garage of Blaine installs only the best brake components. Give us a call at (763) 792-4949 to schedule your appointment today.
Brake Replacement: Everything You Need to Know
Replacing your brakes can be a complicated and time-consuming process. Today we’re talking about what you need to know when it comes to replacing your car’s brake system. Having knowledge of this process will help you decide whether this is a job you can handle, or if you need to consult an expert.
Replacing the brakes is a time-consuming process. This is because diagnostics can reveal underlying issues with your brakes. Since everything is connected, one problem may affect another part of your brake system. Most auto mechanics follow a general process when it comes to this. Let’s talk about those steps.
Steps to replacing the brake system
Loosen the lugs: Once your emergency brakes are activated, use a lug wrench to turn the lug nuts counter-clockwise. Use the wrench to loosen the lug nuts, but don’t remove them completely. Raise the vehicle: Move the jack under the frame rail of the car. Put the jack stands underneath the car. When it’s stable and the weight can’t shift, remove the wheels. Slide out the caliper: Take the bolts off the caliper and slide the caliper out. If it doesn’t come out easily, use a flat head screwdriver to pry it out. To avoid straining the brake line, rest the caliper on the suspension.
Remove the caliper carrier: Detach the caliper carrier by removing the bolts that hold it in place. Then remove the rotor: Some vehicles have locating screws in the rotor. If your rotor has one, remove this first. Taking the rotor out might be challenging if there’s a build-up of rust or debris around it. Install new rotor: After removing rust from the hub with a wire brush, install the new rotor. Clear oily residue from the new rotor with a degreaser.
Assemble caliper carrier: Put the caliper carrier back on and replace the bolts. Compress the caliper: Compress the caliper’s piston until it lines up with the housing of the caliper. Make sure the cap isn’t on the reservoir, otherwise you could blow a line. Install caliper and brake pads: Once you’ve installed the pads in the caliper carrier, attach the caliper bolts. Once you’re sure the caliper can move without binding, tighten the bolts.
Re-attach the wheels: Attach the lugs by hand, and then use a torque wrench on them once the car is back on the ground. Repeat, pump, and break in: Repeat these steps on all your wheels. Then, pump your brake pedal about 3 times until you feel pressure. Once you’ve done this, you can break your system in. You may hear some squealing for the first several miles, but this is normal. Accelerate your vehicle and let it gradually slow down a few times. If everything sounds normal, you should be good to go.
Should I replace my own brakes?
Brake replacement isn’t an easy job. It takes time, as well as a thorough understanding of how your braking system works. Unless you have a lot of experience, it’s best to trust an expert to handle this job.
Do your brakes need to be replaced? Let our experienced technicians at Service Garage of Blaine help you out. Give us a call at (763) 792-4949 to schedule your appointment today.