The History of Automotive Brakes

The History of Automotive Brakes

Since the beginning of the reign of the automobile, we have seen advancements that our grandfather’s would think were a part of a science fiction story. The vehicles that we use on a daily basis for just basic transportation and the speed of their enhancements over such a short time would baffle anyone, and those are just the modes of transportation we find cost effective. What about the machines specifically built for speed; the race cars, and road eaters of our time? For a good science fiction story, just take a look outside.

There is however, one development that few noticed, but that was integral to any enhancements in speed. Today we are going to discuss the most important safety mechanism installed into your vehicle from the first day out of the factory; your brakes.

The history of your brakes isn’t really that complicated, and it starts with the saying “What goes up, must come down.”

In the same way, developers of the brakes in the past centuries were well aware of this, but in the context of cars the saying goes, “What speeds up, must slow down.”


Humble Beginnings

The earliest models of the braking system weren’t even installed into self-powered modes of transportation. The carriages, and cart-and-buggy of the earliest times had crude wooden blocks that rubbed against a leverage point on the wheel to prevent it from moving any further. This was the beginning of braking development.

Around the 1890’s, the makers of such vehicles began to use rubber tires, making a wooden braking block useless against the more pliable surface of the tire. This caused a host of people to attempt the creation of a system of brakes made differently, and from there, the automobile became realistic.


Drums, Discs, and Hydraulics

As developers began to branch out in their designs, most of the braking systems were still crude and sometimes rendered ineffective due to the fact that they were external. Rain, Dust, or Heat could all make the brakes of the past ineffective, and as time went on, car manufacturers realized that. An internal braking system solution arose, and took speed shortly after being introduced. From there, the drum brakes were the most commonly used. Hydraulic brakes, utilizing fluid systems began taking the spotlight as well, and that was fairly recent. Today, many drum braking systems are still used, and the newest advancements are brakes made of two discs rubbing together.


Final Developments

Modern braking system development is seeing a bit of a break. There are most likely private inventors toiling away in their workshops to develop the next step in braking technology, but for the most part, the evolution of brakes has slowed down a bit. Still, the foundation set in the 1900’s is still the basis of all car braking systems in circulation, and without those crude blocks of wood to start us out, the automobile would’ve never gained speed. Well, at least not if you expected to stop.