In some fleet news history, disc brakes began appearing on automobiles in the early 1960’s, the same time disc brakes began to appear on semi trucks around the world. At this point in time, virtually every automobile made in the U.S. or imported here, has a pair of disc brakes, and at this point in time, 90% of semi-trucks on U.S. roads are still being outfitted with drum brakes.
Only in America
Around the rest of the world, disc brakes have become standard on 18 wheelers. The reason why is simple; in most cases they stop a truck faster. However, that conversion also adds thousands of dollars to the cost of a new rig, and although that may not be a big deal in the rest of the world, in the U.S., where absolutely everything is being done to cut the cost of transportation, it IS a big deal.
Drums VS Disc
Drum brakes have been manufactured since the first trucks hit the road, and therefore, both entire assemblies and parts are very inexpensive. In all circumstances, they do a credible job of stopping a big rig, they are reliable and for the most part, they are incredibly durable.
disc brake systems are a bit more complex to install than drum brake systems, but changing pads on a disc brake is less expensive in both labor and materials. In certain situations, like stop and go applications, disc brakes last longer and are far more durable.
It’s All About the Money
The reality is that, in most situations, the cost for disc brakes cannot be justified, and until that day occurs, drum brakes aren’t going anywhere, except on the axles of a big rig.
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