Are disc brakes really more effective than drum brakes? - Honda Civic Forum



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Old 12-31-2017   #1  
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Are disc brakes really more effective than drum brakes?

I know that disc brakes can be used more without fading, but when cold, do they actually stop better? For example: Imagine that traction is not a limiting factor, and I had a car with disc brakes in the front and drum brakes in the back. Imagine that I was going 60 MPH and I have to quickly stop, so I slam on the brakes. Then, imagine that I convert to 4 wheel disc brakes and do the same thing again. With all else being equal, would the car stop any quicker with disc brakes, and why? Thanks.
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Old 12-31-2017   #2  
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Re: Are disc brakes really more effective than drum brakes?

No because the car was designed for rear drum brakes and everything else being equal changing to disc won’t make a difference.


Disc brakes hold up much better than drum when it comes to heavy, constant use so if you were racing the car then yes switching to disc and replacing the proportional valve will give you better results overall.
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Old 01-01-2018   #3  
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Re: Are disc brakes really more effective than drum brakes?

Depends on the disk brakes and the drums in question. Disk brakes are very easy to change to a larger rotor, larger rotor if the proper brackets already exist to locate the caliper, they give a larger mechanical advantage and more breaking power. What Slumper said is potentially true if you're comparing a small set of disk brakes to a set of drums with similar stopping power. But in doing the conversion you can easily swap to larger rotors and gain a LOT more stopping power. Be aware there is no free lunch, and doing so may require larger wheels to accommodate the larger disk brakes. So even if static weight of the two different brake systems was comparable the need for a larger and very likely heavier wheel & tire combination is there which will effect performance in other areas, some good, some bad.

If tire traction isn't a limiting factor, and you do a conversion correctly and go to a larger rotor, yes you will decrease your stopping distance, how much depends on rotor size, calipers, pads etc. The more aggressive you go the shorter your stopping distance so long as you are using pads appropriate, you can go to aggressive in that "race" pads need to be hot to work. Cold they will be worse than stock.

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Old 01-01-2018   #4  
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Re: Are disc brakes really more effective than drum brakes?

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Originally Posted by DSMHondaguy View Post
Depends on the disk brakes and the drums in question. Disk brakes are very easy to change to a larger rotor, larger rotor if the proper brackets already exist to locate the caliper, they give a larger mechanical advantage and more breaking power. What Slumper said is potentially true if you're comparing a small set of disk brakes to a set of drums with similar stopping power. But in doing the conversion you can easily swap to larger rotors and gain a LOT more stopping power. Be aware there is no free lunch, and doing so may require larger wheels to accommodate the larger disk brakes. So even if static weight of the two different brake systems was comparable the need for a larger and very likely heavier wheel & tire combination is there which will effect performance in other areas, some good, some bad.

If tire traction isn't a limiting factor, and you do a conversion correctly and go to a larger rotor, yes you will decrease your stopping distance, how much depends on rotor size, calipers, pads etc. The more aggressive you go the shorter your stopping distance so long as you are using pads appropriate, you can go to aggressive in that "race" pads need to be hot to work. Cold they will be worse than stock.
Very good explanation, thank you. So would my car stop any better if I convert the rear brakes to drums? Thanks. +1 rep.
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Old 01-01-2018   #5  
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Re: Are disc brakes really more effective than drum brakes?

Drum brakes work very well and did so for decades.
Disc are a very simple design, but some drum brake setups are pretty simple too.
Each type has some pros and cons, of course.

Which type is better able to dissipate heat from repeated brake applications? Disc in most cases.
Heat, of course, is the enemy.
Quote:
With all else being equal, would the car stop any quicker with disc brakes, and why?
If you can jam the brakes and lock up all 4 wheels at speed, no matter which brake design employed..........no difference. (Also no directional control LOL)

Skidding tires don't make for short stopping distance though, no matter which brake design is used.
Stopping power is always limited by tire traction.
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Old 01-01-2018   #6  
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Re: Are disc brakes really more effective than drum brakes?

drum - enclosed. Keep heat in. Fade. If water gets in, it won't go out - Bad. although most modern drums are less likely to get water in.

Disc - open. better cooling. Less fade. First step after under water and water is removed.

Our cars are front heavy, most braking is done by fronts (still stock drum shoes at the back after 130k miles.
Proportioning valve is designed for that also, so as to not lock rears. Very few advantages on putting discs at rear, except for what i mentioned at start.

better tires are likely to improve braking, if tires are skidding (meaning there will be braking power left, not used by tires)
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Old 01-02-2018   #7  
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Re: Are disc brakes really more effective than drum brakes?

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Very good explanation, thank you. So would my car stop any better if I convert the rear brakes to drums? Thanks. +1 rep.
Again, it depends. Are you increasing the size of the front rotors as well? If so and tires are sticky, yes. But what people are trying to say is simply switching from drum to disk in the rear, won't do much to decrease a 1 hard stop, stopping distance with good tires on a clean dry road. What it will do, is help some in the wet, and will help some with hard repeated stops, but only marginal decrease in stopping distance. 85% of ANY cars braking is done with the front brakes regardless of drivetrain layout or weight distribution. It changes some depending, but the vast majority is always by far done with the front as weight shifts forward under hard braking.
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Old 01-02-2018   #8  
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Re: Are disc brakes really more effective than drum brakes?

OP: Is your question concerning drum to disc conversion related in any way to your unfamiliarity in drum brakes replacement (referencing another post of yours)?
I ask because I faced that situation earlier this year and up until that point I never replaced drum brakes. To me it seemed complicated compared to disc brakes. However, thanks to responses here, service manual and youtube vids it really isn't difficult. Actually, it went much quicker than I expected other than setting the proper adjustment...seem to take as much time as replacing internal parts.

I think a lot of people look at drum brakes as old technology and it is but, it's still being used on some new base model cars today: https://thebrakereport.com/drum-brak...ng-used-today/ LOL.. that link argues against drum brakes.
I should have known..it seems to come down to cost savings (brake/E-brake in one) for the manufacturer but acceptable on non-high performance cars like most stock civics are: https://www.web2carz.com/autos/every...rakes-obsolete

Last edited by Megalodong; 01-02-2018 at 07:33 AM.
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Old 01-02-2018   #9  
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Re: Are disc brakes really more effective than drum brakes?

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Originally Posted by Megalodong View Post
OP: Is your question concerning drum to disc conversion related in any way to your unfamiliarity in drum brakes replacement (referencing another post of yours)?
I ask because I faced that situation earlier this year and up until that point I never replaced drum brakes. To me it seemed complicated compared to disc brakes. However, thanks to responses here, service manual and youtube vids it really isn't difficult. Actually, it went much quicker than I expected other than setting the proper adjustment...seem to take as much time as replacing internal parts.

I think a lot of people look at drum brakes as old technology and it is but, it's still being used on some new base model cars today: https://thebrakereport.com/drum-brak...ng-used-today/ LOL.. that link argues against drum brakes.
I should have known..it seems to come down to cost savings (brake/E-brake in one) for the manufacturer but acceptable on non-high performance cars like most stock civics are: https://www.web2carz.com/autos/every...rakes-obsolete
Nope, the 2 questions are unrelated. So basically there wouldn't be any benefit for street use swapping to disk brakes? Thanks.
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Old 01-02-2018   #10  
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Re: Are disc brakes really more effective than drum brakes?

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Nope, the 2 questions are unrelated. So basically there wouldn't be any benefit for street use swapping to disk brakes? Thanks.
Not for stock D17 in your car..if you intend to do a K-swap then maybe so, not sure?
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Old 01-02-2018   #11  
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Re: Are disc brakes really more effective than drum brakes?

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Not for stock D17 in your car..if you intend to do a K-swap then maybe so, not sure?
How would the engine effect how it would stop? The extra 100 lbs. wouldn't effect how it stops that much.
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Old 01-02-2018   #12  
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Re: Are disc brakes really more effective than drum brakes?

They're not actually answering your question as asked.

like I said for a single hard stop converting to disks in the rear will make some but not much difference as most of the braking is done by the front wheels/tires/brakes.

if you want the shortest stopping distance possible, you will need larger front rotors and brackets to relocate the calipers, better pads and yes disks in the rear.

what they're trying to say seems to be the obvious that the biggest improvement with stopping distance will be noticed with spending your money on better tires. They're completely ignoring the fact your question was asked reguarding traction not being a limiting factor as your asking about the brake systems themselves which design has the most performance. The answer is disk. The thing is unless your car was built before 1970 it has disks up front and since the rear doesn't do much it doesn't have a big impact in 1 time hard stopping distance being reduced. If it originally had drum brakes on all 4 corners the difference is huge because you changed the front to a superior system and at the same time probably when with a more appropriate sized rotor that has drastically more "braking power" where it counts.
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Old 01-02-2018   #13  
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Re: Are disc brakes really more effective than drum brakes?

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How would the engine effect how it would stop? The extra 100 lbs. wouldn't effect how it stops that much.
A car needs to stop at every speed. More power (hp and torque) means more speed and most likely a higher top end available. I don't know where the cut-off point for the need of upgrading stock braking system to a four wheel disc system with larger rotors, calipers, pad surface begins based on top end speed is and I don't plan to research it. As I mentioned I'm not sure if a K-swap would necessitate such an upgrade or any at all?
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Old 01-02-2018   #14  
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Re: Are disc brakes really more effective than drum brakes?

K engines are slight heavier, thus, front gets heavier and weight distribution shifts further to front. Even less load on rears to make a difference.
Too much brake bias to rear could cause spin due to rear losing traction in the event of locking the rear tires - bad.
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