Disc Brake vs Drum Brake

Over the year, the Brake Technology in our vehicles has improved drastically. During its early start, there were some serious efforts to stop the car effectively. However, with more new features like Carbon Steel, the introduction of ABS, etc., we’re now focused on reducing the stopping distances. But, a significant change that occurred in the early 70s included Disc Brake vs Drum Brake. 

Yes, in the early 70s, most automotive brands switched from drum brakes to disc brakes. However, at that time, many vehicles carried the stopping power in their front wheels only. Thus, manufacturers installed the Disc Brakes only in the front set of wheels. But, with more recent developments, we also saw many vehicles having Disc Brakes on all four wheels. 

Disc Brake vs Drum Brake: Which one is better?

Now even after so many years, Drum Brakes are still in use. But are they good enough? To know the answer, we’ll have to compare both types of brake first. Thus, we’ll start with deep learning on both brakes and see which one’s the best for our vehicles. Let’s get started: 

Disc Brake vs Drum Brake

History and Present of Drum Brake

Many of us now consider Drum Brakes as an older piece of historical braking systems. However, that’s not the truth, as this ‘older piece’ still holds its place in many automotive vehicles. Our regular Drum Brakes included a set of shoes/pads housed in a round drum. Thus, whenever a driver pressed the Brake Pedal, it forced these shoes/pads against the drum, slowing the wheel. 

Despite being capable of working rightly under typical situations, Drum Brakes had one major flaw. Under high braking conditions such as descending a steep hill, Drum Brakes lost their effectiveness many times. Why? The answer is the basic principle of the Braking Systems. 

First, remember that Brakes usually rely on two principles only; Friction and Heat, and Kinetic energy turn into Thermal energy to stop the vehicle. However, in situations like descending from a steep hill, Drum Brakes can’t absorb the heat enough and cannot control the car safely. But does Drum Brakes have any advantages to offer? Let’s have a look: 

Drum Brake

Advantages of Drum Brakes:

Here are some advantages of drum brakes over disc brakes:

  • Quite budget-friendly and readily available for all kinds of vehicles in the market. 
  • Drum Brakes can also provide some free space for the Parking Brakes.
  • It’s pretty easy to recondition the wheel cylinder as compared to the callipers on a Disc Brake. 
  • Lastly, it requires less force to put brakes on the vehicle. 

Disadvantages of Drum Brakes:

Now some of its limitations can be described as below: 

  • When applied for a prolonged time, Drum Brakes can fade away pretty easily. 
  • The shoe lining in Drum Brakes is made of asbestos which is very harmful to human beings. 
  • Due to its enclosed design, Drum Brakes can collect water, which might reduce the frictional properties. 
car accessories image

All about Disc Brakes

As we mentioned earlier, all types of brakes follow the same principles, i.e. heat and friction. However, in terms of components and basic structure, Disc Brakes are pretty different from Drum Brakes. For instance, instead of having a metal drum, Disc Brakes consist of a slim rotor and small calliper to stop the vehicle. Moreover, two brake pads are also present within the calliper. Hence whenever a driver hits the brake pedal, these brake pads clamp together and halts the vehicle. 

Unlike Drum Brakes, Disc Brakes aren’t vulnerable to overheating as their rotor is usually exposed to the air. Thus, even in high braking situations, Disc Brakes doesn’t lose their effectiveness. Let’s have a look at some more advantages of these brakes: 

Disc Brakes

Advantages of Disc Brakes:

Here are some advantages of disc brakes over drum brakes for cars and bikes:

  • Due to the proper placement of the rotor, Disc Brakes are much better at managing heat than ordinary Drum Brakes. 
  • As Disc Brakes use Callipers, they’re pretty easy to clean and repair. Moreover, you can even change the entire rotor for maintenance purposes. 
  • Unlike Drum Brakes, Disc Brakes are fade-resistant and doesn’t get affected by dirt, water, rust, etc. 
  • Long-life results due to easily accessible parts and better heat dissipation. 

Disadvantages of Disc Brakes: 

Disc brakes also have two disadvantages that can be concerning for some people:

  • Due to a large rotor surface, Disc Brakes are pretty known for being noisy. 
  • Lastly, Disc Brakes aren’t much effective when used as Parking Brakes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q 1: Which is better, Disc Brakes or Drum Brakes in a bike? 

Disc brakes are better than drum brakes as they are better at dispersing heat than drum brakes.

Q 2 : Are Disc Brakes better than Drum Brakes? 

Yes. Most modern vehicles come installed with disc brakes as they can more efficiently disperse heat than drum brakes.

Q 3 : How to tell the difference between Drum Brakes and Disc Brakes? 

On vehicles with disc brakes, you can see the shiny and smooth disc rotor through the brake disc. For vehicles with drum brakes, you can only see a round, mostly rusted-looking, brake drum.

Q 4:  Are Disc Brakes more expensive than Drum Brakes?

Yes. Disc brakes are more expensive than drum brakes as they are more efficient at dispersing heat.

Q 5: Disc Brakes vs Drum Brakes: Which is better in wet conditions? 

In wet conditions, disc brakes perform better than drum brakes as their centrifugal force tends to throw water off from the plate. 

Q 6: Can Disc Brakes stop my car better than Drum Brakes? 

Yes. Even with the smaller size, disc brakes are powerful enough to slow down and stop even high-speed vehicles.


Clearly, disc brakes are the winner here and this is the reason why most modern vehicles come installed with disc brakes. When driving in scorching hot weather of the Indian climate, you need brakes that are most efficient at dissipating heat. For this reason, disc brakes should be preferred over drum brakes.

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