Disc vs Drum Brakes

Disc vs Drum Brakes

Submitted by jgriffith on Thu, 11/12/2015 - 14:04



With the recent change to the U.S. DOT stopping distance requirements, are drum brakes up to the task?  The short answer is yes.  However, are disc brakes the future?

Disc brakes carry a hefty $3000 price, or about $500 per wheel, ballpark.  This is why fleets often raise the question on why they should spend so much capital on disc brakes because drum brakes are still very useful and meet U.S. DOT requirements.

Disc brakes do offer additional margin in terms of safety and stopping distance.  This is good for hilly roads or when carrying heavy loads.  They also are very good for powerful start and stop cycles.   Maintenance costs are lower over the lifetime of disc brakes.  The maintenance cycle of disc brakes is just shy of double the length of drum brakes.  Time on disc brake maintenance per wheel is also much faster, about 1/3 of the time per wheel than drum brakes.  Disc brakes are pre-lubed and sealed, essentially, for life.  Other than a few parts that wear out, disc brakes do not take much more than a visual inspection.  Drum brakes have many more moving parts and require a more difficult inspection.  Disc brakes also feel better on the driver and provide a sense of confidence to drivers, which is often used as a recruiting tool for companies.

On the other hand, drum brakes have been enhanced immensely over the past few years, and may be exactly what you need.  Yes, inspections and maintenance cycles may be a little more time consuming, but disc brakes could be more than you need if you aren’t careful and do your homework.  Make sure to check out all of your variables including traveled terrain and load weight when considering brake types.  If you have questions or concerns, contact our sales department to help make the decision with you.

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